In the summer of 2011, I was asked to ride my aunt's horse for her to put hours on him. I said that I would do it, and added JR to my list of horses to ride. July 14th started off really cool, and I decided not to ride until a little later in the day...partially because I was watching Robin Hood: Men In Tights. I went out to ride about noonish. My mom came out with me to get the arena sprinklers on and to feed the barn cats. I saddled JR up and mounted to ride him to the arena, which wasn't very far from my aunt's barn. JR was around six years old. He was very lanky in appearance (I don't have a picture of him). He tended to trip a lot when he would move around, so I knew I would be working on keeping his head in the game and keeping his feet picked up. When I ride to the arena, I am not just walking to the arena. I'm flexing, circling...basically getting the horse's mind going. This day wasn't different. I flexed JR, then I put him in a tight circle, disengaging his hindquarters, picking up his shoulders. He was nice and relaxed, he never showed any signs of irritation. I then put him in a little jog, and was jogging little circles. The pasture I was riding in was flat and there weren't any holes (I checked when I walked to the barn). He was doing really well. He wasn't tripping, and he was listening to my cues. Now this is the part where details get a little fuzzy. I don't remember exactly what happened. I just remember watching JR's head go down, and then I remember landing hard on the ground.
The next few minutes were like those fade in/out scenes from a movie. Flash: I was looking at the sky. Flash: I was on my side looking at JR, who had also fallen. Flash: screaming every possible curse word I could think of. I was in pain. I couldn't tell if my shoulder hurt, or if my whole body hurt. The next thing I remember was I was halfway to the hospital, my mom driving way over the speed limit. I couldn't remember anything. My helmet was still on my head. I kept asking why I was riding JR, if he was okay, was I wearing my helmet, what day was it, what time was it. The questions kept repeating. I was in panic mode. After that, I was in the hospital. They had already done a CT scan on my head by the time the Morphine set in (that was the best feeling all day), and said I had a very minor concussion, but I'm going to have to stay for a few hours. I remember I kept complaining that my right shoulder was hurting and popping. They did an xray and said nothing was broken, but that there might be a torn muscle. It was popping right where my neck meets the shoulder. It was a few hours later when they needed to do another CT. I couldn't put any weight on my right arm. They had to pick me up and put me on the CT table. To make the very long night as short as possible...my dad had to ask the hospital for a sling for my arm. Something was not right, and our constant pestering for someone to look at my shoulder wasn't helping matters. I took the pieces of my shirt (they had to cut it off of me) and my helmet and boots and walked out of the hospital. My shirt had grass stains indicating I had landed on my right shoulder and rolled to my left hip. My helmet had not taken any damage, but it had just a little bit of dust on the back left side. My aunt had felt bad and so she put a band-aid that said "JR happened" to make me feel better (I'll admit, it felt good to laugh at SOMETHING that night). I ended up going home to watch Men in Tights again.
A month later, I went to another doctor because I just didn't feel right with my right shoulder. It didn't hurt after a week, but I wanted to look into therapy or something. I was still riding too (kind of against doctor's orders, but I really wanted to show). The doctor ordered an MRI and three six weeks later, the results came in. He said that I couldn't start therapy because the right clavicle was not where it was supposed to be. He sent me to a specialist who confirmed that the clavicle was broken in the joint where the sternum meets the collarbone. There were also major arteries in danger if I continued to ride. I stopped riding November 11th 2011, and had surgery January 3rd. Which was the scariest thing I have ever had. I wasn't able to ride until June 2012, though the doctor said originally I wouldnt be able to ride until January 2013.
Moral of the story, though I still had a concussion, and I didn't LAND on my head, and it could have been much much worse. I always advocated helmet wearing, but since this experience (which put me in depression for almost a year), I push the helmet wearing as much as possible.