For the love of everything sacred, not again….

I’ve been pondering my head lately.

Having had three (that I know of) concussions, I thought their stories might be worth sharing. The first was in land, far, far away. Well, actually it’s only an hour from me…. but I digress.

When I was 12, I was an avid horsewoman(horsechild?!?). Like most girls, I loved horses and begged my parents for riding lessons. For my eighth birthday, success!!! I was not a girly girl. I didn’t want “equestrian” lessons and had no desire, whatsoever, to ever use the word jodhpurs, let alone wear them. I wanted to ride western. I wanted to be a cowgirl. I was a natural, I was told, and after my ten lessons were up, I pondered my future in the world. Luckily, my mum bonded with the family who owned the ranch in question, and they agreed that if I wanted to help out around the ranch, I could continue lessons for free. I mucked out stalls, cleaned bridles, fixed saddles, and shovelled more shit than any other kid I knew. And I grew up in the country! Fast forward four years later, and I was still there. I was now a terribly experienced horsewoman (oh hell yes) to the point that I was now officially a trail guide. That meant that I was considered more experienced than any of the people wanting to rent the horses and go for a trail ride. Every ride had to have a guide.

This pissed off a number of adults, but it was quite entertaining the number of times I had to come to the rescue, at the tender age of 12. And I garnered a fair amount of respect the day that one of the bitchy horses (I still remember her name. Colby.) turned around and bit my leg instead of the horse I was riding. As big, strong, adults pried her teeth from my 12-year-old leg, with me cursing instead of crying, they stopped questioning if I was up to the task. In that time, I was pretty impressed with myself in general, because at 12, I had a regular paycheque. I was also pretty proud of the fact that, since I was responsible enough to take care of the urban adventurers, I was also responsible enough to go out alone. *insert dramatic music here*

It was a beautiful day. I was riding one of my favourite horses, named Sundance. He was a strawberry roan, so pretty, with a wonderful personality, and jeepers – could that horse run. 🙂 We weren’t even 1/4 of the way around the trail when it happened. A bee got caught underneath his saddle pad. I didn’t last long on his back. I was bucked off, got my foot caught in the stirrup, and was dragged for some distance until I was dislodged on a pile of rocks. That’s pretty much all I remember. Apparently, the alarm was raised back on the ranch when Sundance returned, sans rider. A search party was mustered, and apparently I came to half-way back. The owner sent my mum off to the hospital with me, with her promise that she would bring me back. I was, quite literally, going to have to get back in the saddle that same day.

I returned – victorious from the hospital – bruised, concussed, and still bleeding a little, but ready to get back onto a horse. They put me on Tag. She was 29 years old. Safest horse on the ranch, I was assured. No problem. I was 12, but I was stubborn and tough. We got 3/4 around the trail when we approached the back of what was then known as Bell Northern Research. It’s a nice part of the trail, a good open spot to run, with a forest up ahead to slow down and cool down through. On the other side of the fence was a baseball diamond that the BNR employees used to play softball. There was a jovial game going on that day. A few smiled and waved at us on the horses. And then it happened. No one expected a home run. The ball actually hit my horse on the ass.

Have you ever seen a 29 year old horse panic? I have. She tore across the field at a speed that only racehorses might be able to muster. Did the forest stop her? No. Did she follow the path? No. She found the path of most resistance, which included a number of buckthorn trees. If you’ve never seen a buckthorn tree close up, they have thorns on them that can reach 4 inches in length, and are strong enough that they can pierce a car tire if run over at just the right angle.

20 minutes later, I returned to the ranch, still concussed, still bruised, and now bleeding profusely from so many wounds that it would have been counterproductive to even count. The owner’s daughter had been my companion through this romp through hell and attempted to explain my condition. The owner shook his head, looked at my mother and was about to speak when I slid, bloodily off my horse, and promised to return the next day, so long as he didn’t send me out a third time.

For the record, I was back the next day…

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