Friday, January 22, 2010

Good News! Complete With (Some) Promised Background...

I am very happy to report some excellent news! Mom is back in the saddle after a 5 month hiatus. Poor thing has been laid up with a compound fracture due to - surprise - being kicked by a horse! Not hers; she was riding at the time with some friends and just came between a hoof and it's intended target.

After initially refusing surgery (Quote: "I'm tough and I heal quickly")she finally relented and had a rod put in on December 4. She had her final appointment with her orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday, whose exact words were, "Take your drugs and use the leg. Get back to normal". Normal for her, of course, includes riding, so that is exactly what she did.

I could literally feel her smile over the phone.

So, I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you a bit more about Mom. I mentioned in a previous post that she, too, is weird. And not just because she is a horse person, but that is a whole other post. But the story of how she partnered with her current equine companion, Miss Mary, just proves how crazy we all are.

Now in her 60s, Mom is technically retired from the horse biz. But when a friend of hers who breeds Morgans asked for some help breaking a young filly, Mom was all too happy to help out. Her Thoroughbred T-Bird was getting up there in years and she welcomed a new challenge.

Weird side note: here is Mom, T-Bird and I having a bit of fun. He was a great soul who passed peacefully just this past year, and we miss him terribly.

But I digress. Mom and her friend took Mary through the ropes: round pen, ground driving, bomb proofing, and eventually got on her and began ring work before ultimately introducing her to Mom's discipline of choice: trail riding. Though she was raised on Saddlebreds and Hackneys, and came into Hunters when I took an interest in jumping, Mom liked the spunk and intelligence of this young Morgan mare. And, at 15.1 hands, she was a better "fit" for an "old lady" (Mom's words, not mine. Truthfully, if you knew Miss Mary you would agree with me that she is more of a mid-life crisis sports car than an old lady mount!).

Time passed. With T-Bird ready to retire, it only stood to reason that Mom spent more and more time on Mary and less and less on T-Bird. Though she still took him out for short hacks a few times a week, Mary was her mount of choice for longer rides. And Mary's owner was only too happy to oblige as it gave her someone else to ride with. A win-win situation all around.

Early October, 2004: Mom and her buddies planned a ride out in Dawson Forest, a favorite spot just an hour or so from where they live in North Georgia. The weather had been crappy; Hurricane Ivan had just passed through a few weeks before. That weekend's forecast looked beautiful, and the group was ready to get out and RIDE!

An hour or so down the trail they came upon a large tree across the path, obviously a victim of the recent storm. It was too high to jump, and too low to go under, but upon investigation there appeared to be a path about 4' wide between the upturned roots of the tree and a drainage ditch. Hooray! A way around. The first few riders passed through single file with no problem.

Mary was still pretty green at this point, but generally had a lot of faith in Mom's judgement. Still, as they passed the root ball something struck her as funny and she took a few steps back. Towards the ditch, whose lip suddenly gave way.

Mary slid backward down the embankment, and in trying to regain her footing managed to push herself over backward. On top of Mom. They came to a stop upside down in the bottom of the ditch, which was much narrower than the top. In a blink Mom was pinned under Mary, one leg trapped between the horse and the side of the ditch, with only a few inches of space between her back and the ground. Mary was stuck, legs in the air, unable to right herself. And there they stayed - for three hours.

Two of Mom's buddies rode off looking for help, which they found in - ironically - an off duty mounted patrol unit running drills in the forest. One of the ladies who stayed was a yoga instructor, who took Mom through some breathing and calming exercises. When the mounted patrol unit finally got to her, they were baffled as well. But persistence pays off, and they were able to - finally, using just brute strength - pull Mary over and free Mom.

Both Mom and Mary were sore and bruised, but miraculously escaped serious injury. Mom bought Mary the next week.

The non-horsey set in Mom's life - including my Dad - were surprised at her decision. Those of us who know horses understand better.

Throughout their ordeal, Mary - despite being young and green - never panicked. Had she freaked out and struggled, as horses usually do in situations where escape is impossible, Mom surely would have been crushed. There was just something about this little, spunky, level-headed mare that you don't find in every horse.

Us weirdos get that.

Happy trails, Mom and Mary.



  1. Wow, that's quite an accident your mom survived! How very scary.

    I would have bought Mary in a heartbeat too...what a good little mare.

    Your mom is lucky she was on her or it could have been much, much worse.

    (P.S. My mom is a weirdo too...funny how they pass that on, isn't? And I've passed the weirdness on to my youngest daughter.)

  2. Thanks Jenn! Mom gives Mary all the credit...she really is a wonderful mare. I'll post some Miss Mary pics soon. There IS a weirdo gene, without a doubt!

  3. WOW..what a story!!!!!!!! Your Mom is very lucky to have had a Mare with smarts in that situation. The picture of T-Bird is great..what a fun shot! :)

  4. Miss Mary is wonderful - great head on her. T-Bird was a great soul too...very few that would tolerate these kind of shenanigans!! The lady at the photo place thought it was a model horse :o)