Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another Late Update on our Tevis Preparations

Ok, first I have to apologize for not publishing this in a timely manner like I had promised.  So much for promising to do that!  Again, I have been extremely busy holding every aspect of my life together while keeping Sweetie in shape with weekly rides, trimming her hooves, etc.

First I want to report on Sue's big accident that happened in the middle of May on a training ride.  Luckily we were only about a mile from the house when it happened.  Sue was ahead of me on Raven about 20 feet, and he was wearing the same hoof boots he wore on American River.  For some reason he tripped on them going downhill on a two track road and Sue pitched forward hard and threw them both down.  At first I couldn't even see Sue, she was hidden behind Raven who lay on his side with his feet pointed uphill.  I raced over and leaped off, finding her on her back facing downhill with one leg pinned under him.  Both she and Raven were laying there groaning.  I asked Sue if she was alright, but she was unresponsive, just laying there groaning.  I tried pulling her leg out with no luck.  I kept asking her if she could breathe, etc. but still no response.  I started shoving on Raven who was also laying there unresponsive and groaning.  He couldn't get his feet under him to get up, as they were pointed uphill.  I thought, this is like a scene from "War Horse"!!

I wasn't sure what to do.  I asked Sue again if she was OK, did she need water, because she was clammy and looked flushed.  I sprinkled a little water on her face as she was laying in the blazing sun and squirted some in her mouth, and she seem to be able to drink, but was still unresponsive.  Up the trail about a hundred yards was a house, but I didn't want to leave Sue in case Raven got up, beccause he would step all over her in the process, most likely.  I continued to shove on Raven with adrenaline fueled strength, saying, "come on Raven, get up!!"  Finally he started trying to get his legs under him and rose up partway, only to come down again, now pinning my foot!  I thought, now we're really f***ed!!  We all lay there like we'd just been shelled on the battlefield, out in the sun, helpless.

I started trying to pull my foot out with all my strength, praying this time with each pull, six in all, until my foot was finally extricated.  Then I started shoving on Raven again, yelling "come on Raven, MOVE!!" and finally he rose up and got up all the way.  It had been about 20 minutes in all, I estimate, that Sue was pinned.  I sat her up immediately and asked if her leg was alright, was it broken, did it feel OK?  She thought it was OK.  Then I saw her phone in the side pocket of the leg that was pinned.  The outline of the phone in the pocket was all torn, and I pulled it out and it lit up, thank God.   I asked Sue, "Who should we call?"  Someone needed to come get her, and she just said, "I don't know..."

I started scrolling down her contact list and found a familiar name in the general vicinity and called it.  It was Alexis, The Hay Lady who's Standardbred mare was boarded at Sue's.  She wasn't there and I left a message stating our plight.  I scrolled some more and found another horse friend in the neighborhood and got her husband on the phone.  When I explained what was going on, he said she wasn't home, but the next door neighbor couple was there and were horse people and could help.  I got the wife on the phone and explained where we were.  She said they could come and get her but were going to call the paramedics first to meet them at Sue's house.  Sue protested, saying, "No, I don't have insurance."  At this point I don't think she realized how injured she was.  She called them and arrived a short time later up the hill from us.

While we were waiting I helped Sue get to her feet using a stirrup on Sweetie's saddle to pull her up with.  She started her series of "what happened?" questions, six in all, immediately forgetting everything and asking me again.  She held on to Sweetie's breast collar and we inched up the hill.  Our rescuers arrived and helped her the rest of the way and into the car.  Sweetie had just grazed patiently the whole time I struggled with Sue and Raven and I didn't even need to hold on to her.  I got on her and ponied Raven back to the house.  He was still somewhat subdued after his fall.  I think he clocked himself good.

When I arrived at the house, the neighbors were out looky-looing as there was not only a paramedic van, but  also two fire engines for good measure.  One paramedic asked me details of how long ago it happened, etc. while another strapped her to a board.  They asked her what day it was and she said she didn't know.  I knew she had a good concussion, having experienced a few myself.  She was going to be transported down the road to a heliport to be airlifted down to Roseville, as there is no trauma center at the Auburn Hospital.  I was surprised to hear this considering all the extreme sports that go on in this area.  Auburn has been designated the Endurance Capitol of the World, not just for riding, but for all endurance sports, like mountain biking, kayaking the wild rivers, ultra running, etc. so you would think the hospital would be equipped to handle the kind of accidents that might happen.

I decided I still needed to get my weekly ride in, since there wasn't anything wrong with Sweetie and I, so I put up Raven and thanked our rescuers and exchanged phone numbers. They looked at me kinda funny as I rode off.  There wasn't anything else I could do now except fret and worry, so I thought I might as well get my ride in so the day wouldn't be a total loss.  I rode about 3 hours and came back.  My cell phone didn't get reception out there so I couldn't check on what Sue's condition was.  I put Sweetie up and came in the house, finding it very hot, needing windows opened and fans going to cool it off for the two dogs that were inside.  I filled their water and let them out to pee.  I fed the horses and then walked up and down the road to see if I could get any reception.  I finally gave up and came back.  I was about to get in my truck and drive to where my phone would work when Sue and Alexis, the Hay Lady drove in.  That was fast, I thought, considering that Roseville is about 40 miles away, about half of it on windy roads.

Sue seemed OK and complained that they had cut off her good riding tights and sent her home in scrubs.  Her leg was bruised but OK, she had a concussion but her  x-rays were negative.  I was relieved to see her get out of the car in one piece and not have to stay in the hospital while we figured out how to take care of all her animals.   I drove home and crashed.  The next day I was sore all over from my efforts and my knee was a little swollen where I had wrenched it pulling my foot out from under Raven.  I put ice and arnica on it.  A week later it started getting worse instead of better, so I made an appointment to go to the Dr. and get a knee brace.  Knee injuries can be dicey, and I didn't want to have problems with it during Tevis.  It healed fine and hasn't given me any more problems.

Sue, on the other hand, has had to have her leg drained twice and has to keep a compression wrap on it.  She doesn't seem to have any residual effects from the concussion that I know of, though.  I know I have felt like I had a brain bruise for a month, especially after the last one, that split my helmet all the way through after getting dumped hard off a runaway horse onto a gravel road.  That Tipperary helmet saved my butt.  It could have been a fracture.  So much for the perils of horsebackriding.

Next blog will have the details of the Wild West Ride where we did two days in a row of 50's and did great. Also all the last minute preparations, including taking some out of state riders down some sections that we will be riding in the dark so they and both their horses will know it.  Stay tuned!  I'll get it in within the next few days before we leave for the starting line on Thursday the 2nd of August.


  1. Thanks for the details of the accident! I know more of what happened now!

    ~Sue :-P

  2. I assume Sue was wearing a helmet?
    This is a very scary account. Thank you for all the details. I could imagine being right there...
    This is a good reminder to go through an emergency drill with our friends we ride with and discuss an emergency plan, who to call, what kind of insurance, etc. (in Tahoe, we have CalStar!)
    I don't have my friends' husband's numbers in my phone... hummm.

  3. holy moly! thanks for the report on Sue.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  4. Hi, there - I came on over to your blog from Linda Benson's, via Equestrian Ink. Really enjoyed your description of riding the Tevis Cup! That's something I'm quite sure I'll never do on horseback (I'm a H/J girl), so it was fascinating.

    I'm also wondering if Sue was wearing a helmet when this accident happened. I don't understand why Raven would not get up for so long, either. Was he unsure of how/where to stand, do you think? It's a wonder Sue wasn't hurt any worse!

    1. No, she was not wearing a helmet. She will from now on. The reason Raven couldn't get up was because his feet were pointed uphill and he couldn't get them under himself to get up. I had to shove on him numerous times to jockey him around until he finally was able to. He also seemed like he had clocked himself good in the head when he went down. He lay there groaning for quite awhile. He was a bit subdued when I ponied him home too. Sue's leg is still not completely back to normal, it's had to be drained a few times and pressure wrapped. Yes, she is very lucky it wasn't worse, considering.