Seven years ago right now, I was lying in the Durango, CO emergency room with a broken jaw, broken chin, concussion, injured back, dislocated shoulder, broken left wrist, sprained right wrist, and multi-trauma to both legs- from a horse accident. And I wasn't even riding the horse.
I'd been putting my big, beautiful stallion into his stall for the night, when a mare across the aisle nickered her sexiest, "Hey, big boy." The fellow I was holding by the halter in one hand and lead in the other, forgot for just a second that I was there, and instantly spun around away from me, to say 'hello' back, to the flirty mare. My fingertips caught under the cheek piece of the halter, and my feet happened to be positioned so as not give me a way to step with the horse. I was jerked hard into the air and then slammed down face first (well... whole body first, actually) straight into the concrete aisle floor, with no hands handy to catch my fall.
It wasn't too long before I was in an ambulance, speeding through the winding mountains to the nearest hospital, in Durango. My son, Honor, rode in the ambulance with me, refusing to be left behind. It took a few hours to run all the needed tests and to find all my various breaks. That wasn't my best day. Worst of all, my special little adopted daughter, Keyton, was named Rodeo Princes of the big town rodeo the very next day- and I couldn't be there for her big event.
My jaws had to be wired together. Now, that term doesn't sound too bad, until you realize that what that really means is that your teeth are clamped very tightly together by a system of sharp-ended wires that are woven almost like shoe laces from tooth to tooth, and then cut and twisted around each other very tightly until the wires are stretched almost to the breaking point- and so are your teeth. Not only does that make ones teeth and jaws painfully sore from the pressure on your whole face- which already has a broken bone (jaw), but add to that the fact that the roughly cut ends of the wires poke directly into (and through) the skin inside your mouth, making any movement at all excruciating. "Eating" became a long, tedious, and very uncomfortable process of being drip-fed Ensure through a tube that had to pushed down my throat about once an hour for the first several weeks. I was flat on my injured back, unable to move, talk, or even write for months. Honor- who was 13, literally moved into my room, slept in his sleeping bag on the floor, and took care of my every need for the rest of the summer- and continued to be my life saver before and after school for several more months after that. My jaw didn't heal well, and the wires had to be left in for over nine months. I could probably go without saying that I got just a little tired of Ensure! And, although he never said a word, Honor probably got a little tired of sleeping on the floor!
Everything eventually healed- mostly. My back is still a wreck and I can't ride much any more, but that's OK- I had a lot of good years with horses before this happened. Now, I pay the 'spirit of the equine' back for all those great years by doing what I can to help at-risk wild and domestic horses.
People who don't love horses ask if I sold that horse or had him put down; they also ask me if I hate horses now because of what happened that night. Since everyone who reads this loves horses, I don't even have to answer those questions, do I.