My Worst Riding Injury

I was looking through some story templates on Instagram the other day, and one of them asked about your worst riding injury. There is no way that the tale of MINE would fit in the little place provided, or even on an entire story page. Out of all the things I’ve managed to do to myself, including cracked ribs, a broken tailbone, and a broken elbow, there is one injury in particular that was far far worse than any of those. It occurred to me then that I don’t think I’ve ever told this story here.

Let me set the stage for you.

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It must have been somewhere around 2003ish, and I was working as the barn manager at Rising Star Farm. This is when it first started up and was located here in Texas, at a beautiful farm north of Austin. Now they’re in Georgia and have tons of stallions and mares and babies, but back then I think we only had a few mares and may or may not have already purchased the first stallion. We had an OTTB or two that I was working on to resell, and I lived in the apartment above the barn. I also had a little resale pony that a friend and I had picked up unbroke and cheap, as a project. We had named her Lexi, but we really just called her Po (short for pony. I know, you’re impressed with my originality.).

LexiTrot
it tells you just how long ago this was, that I’m wearing a hunt cap

So one day I was riding Po out on a hack around the the farm roads – RSF was surrounded by other horse farms – at a leisurely walk on a loose rein. Po tripped over something, went down to her knees, and came up with a foot having somehow gotten over the reins. She just froze, and I went to jump off so I could safely unbuckle the reins before it turned into a wreck. Here’s where I made my error.

I did not make sure that I had completely cleared the left stirrup before I jumped down. In my haste the stirrup leather got caught between my legs on the way down, and I landed with my full weight, on the metal stirrup, on my crotch. I had somehow kinda slid down the stirrup leather like it was a fire pole, only the stirrup stopped me. In the crotch. Full force. WHAM.

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I don’t really know a good way to describe exactly what happened in that moment. The best thing I can say is: imagine what happens when someone gets punched really hard in the mouth and their lip splits open from the sheer force of it. Yeah well, that’s exactly what it did. Except to my lady bits. Across quite a wide area.

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I freed the pony from the reins and got back on before quickly realizing that I was bleeding. A LOT. It soaked through my pants within a couple minutes and by the time we got back to the barn there was blood pooling on my saddle. I quickly untacked and ran upstairs to the bathroom to figure out what the heck had happened.

Y’all. It was not a pretty sight. I won’t describe it in detail but lets just say there was tearing, and swelling, and things were ALREADY black and blue. BLACK. REALLY BLACK. In hindsight I definitely needed stitches, but I just mopped up the blood, got the bleeding under control, slathered some ointment on it, and proceeded with my day.

The next week was relatively awful. Wearing pants sucked. peeing sucked, showering sucked. Which… I was the only person working on this farm so I still had horses to take care of and ride. The state of my crotch had no bearing on the things that had to be done every day. I would wait to pee until I literally could not hold it anymore, and showered as little as possible. It stung. It stung real bad. The swelling and the bruising were the worst parts, though… there’s just no way to avoid putting pressure on that area with clothes.

po1
This pony was actually really cool though

There is still a scar to this day, you can see exactly where I slammed into the junction of leather and stirrup. Out of all the ways I’ve ever hurt myself with horses, nothing has ever been as bad as that. Nothing. It’s also by far the most random way I have ever managed to hurt myself. I didn’t even fall off! I can tell you what though, you never make that mistake twice. I’m very certain to kick completely free of my stirrups before sliding down, even to this day.

Please tell me that someone out there has done something even dumber and worse than this. It’ll make me feel a little better.

40 thoughts on “My Worst Riding Injury

  1. Omg I can’t even imagine the pain 😱. My cousin had a similar injury from a skateboard as a teenager. None of my horse injuries come anywhere close to that, my worst injury was when I tried to land on my feet when the horse spooked and I knew I wasn’t going to stay on and ended up breaking my ankle, which 2 years later still hurts almost daily. That doesn’t even come close to what you did tho!

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  2. no you win the dumb award sorry:)

    HA HA HA my worst injury was when that palomino mare (cannot remember her name now damn I am old) I got at Taylor sale panicked when either your or Stacy’s horse (I cant even remember who was there at the time in my field) made evil eyes at the palomino and I got stuck between the horse and the wire on the stall. The wire and horse won and I had 17 stitches and had to lay across a gurney in Round Rock for like an hour while they stitched it up. 🙂 HA Much nicer than breaking your ladybits 😉

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    1. I’ve been thinking about this, and I bet it was Irish that made evil eyes at your palomino. She was kind of a bitch. And she was both mine and Amanda’s horse so we share the blame.

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  3. Holy shit woman!
    I got major sympathy pain reading this…youch!
    Not sure if stitches would have really helped all that much, at least the area is pretty fast-healing.
    Also: I cannot come up with anything remotely matching up to that. Though I did manage to half dislocate my right hip when I was thrown off a horse and into a wall when I was 11 or 12. It was never checked by a doctor so I grew up crooked which led to a slight scoliosis of my lumbar spine…pretty stupid to not get it checked, in hindsight. But my parents believed my then-trainer who said it wasn´t serious. Pretty sure I had a concussion as well..

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  4. My worst was riding an unbalanced baby while just coming back from two years off of riding. I was weak and he had a huge trot. Coming down to the walk at the end of my lesson he tripped in a deep spot of sand and rocket launched my body out of the saddle and stepped on me in his effort not to conpletely crush me. I’m still mind blown the effort that horse put in not to kill me. Grade 2 lacerated liver, one punctured lung, the other lung collapsed, and damaged adrenal glands. I’m still recovering from the mental scar it left.

    But stupidest injury? I was doing a co-op program through my highschool at a well known h/j barn. It was my first real job with horses so all I knew was literally how to lead one. Anyways, it was spring in Canada and everything was mud. When I brought in this horse Indy my boss told me to take off his pull on bell boots. They were covered in mud and I had never taken pull ons off. So I was standing in the stall pulling with my entire weight behind it, my fingers slipped and I punched myself in the face. Fell to the ground and passed out in the stall for a couple minutes before coming to. Got up and told him I couldn’t get them off and told no one what happend Lol

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  5. Not horse related, but I one time tore my urethra by sneezing while peeing…. Pro life tip. Don’t ever fucking sneeze while you’re taking a piss….

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  6. I had the injury – though not to that magnitude! – this summer after riding Grif bareback at a trot through water. His trot was huge due to the water and I basically quit riding for a split second and WHAM. Withers to crotch, full fuckin’ force. Split me right open. The burning. Oh god, the burning.

    My scariest injury was having a big ol’ appy use my chest to stand up on after we both fell when I was in middle school. Fortunately, he stepped right over my sternum which saved me a lot of internal damage. Still had a hoof-shaped bruise on my chest for a few weeks! My mom even made me sleep in her room for a few nights to make sure I didn’t stop breathing lol.

    Dumbest? Riding a horse bareback and backwards to impress people at a high school party. The gelding thought it was bullshit and let me know by bucking me off right onto my ass in the field. Fortunately we were *just* out of sight of everyone partying so no one saw.

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  7. I’m cringing so hard reading this.

    My biggest dumb was when I broke my pinky – Runkle put the skids on a skinny that surprised him and I came off. I landed on my feet though, and got back on and continued my lesson. I proceeded to do the rest of my day. At the grocery store I got a bag of ice from the fish guy to ice my pinky because it hurt so bad and was swollen. After studying (doing 40~ math problems by hand) I was like maybe… this is forreal.

    I will say when I came off, I took a minute because my hand hurt so much and my trainer said “either get back on or we’re going to the hospital!!” she felt like a real mug when I said I had to get surgery hehehe

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  8. My dumbest was also my worst injury – wasn’t paying attention while trotting around when the horse stumbled minorly, and I frickin’ skidded halfway across the arena. I still have no idea how it was physically possible considering how slowly he was trotting. Shattered one elbow and strained a tendon in my other arm and was in PT for a good long time. Couldn’t use either arm for most of a semester. The dumbest.

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  9. Not horse-related, but as a child, I fell asleep at the top of a playground slide and woke up as I was falling. Broke my wrist.

    I could have done without reading yours, though. Ouch x a million. My broken elbow from Sebastian falling with me doesn’t seem so bad now.

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  10. Worst injury to date was slicing open my head at 2 years old because I thought I could fly. Still have the harry potter scar across my forehead to prove it. Worst horse injury to date (knocking on wood) was my old lease QH bucked high, felt me falling, slammed on his brakes and I did a summersault of his back, landing only on my head and neck. Like we have the video of right before and my hands were out, but I didn’t land on them. The doctors at the ER were incredibly confused, but I only walked away with a massive lump on my neck. Only horse related fall that sent me to the ER.

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    1. Ouch! After reading this I thought I’d share a crazy riding accident of my Dads, who is a very experienced horseman.
      A few years ago we were out trail riding/horse camping with a very large group, about 60 – 70 riders. We were riding in a small hilly valley with a river running through it and a few cattle pastures.
      Dad is riding his favorite bomb proof, done everything horse Diesel, AQHA draft cross, built like a tank.
      We start climbing a fairly steep trail, which is covered in a light grey gravel. Suddenly for no reason his Diesel jumps straight up and bucks powerfully, then runs down a side trail into the bush, stops turns and comes back, looking confused.
      Because of the incline, and that he was thrown backwards, my Dad falls much farther down (longer drop) and lands of the back of his neck. I jump off my horse, throw my reins to my husband and run to my Dad. He isn’t breathing, his eyes are open and fixed, I’m screaming Dad! Dad! A friend and retired firefighter is running towards me yelling “don’t touch him!” (Thinking his neck may be broken.) He reaches me and starts saying his name and telling him to breathe. After what seemed like minutes he blinks and pulls in a shaky breath.
      Many people saw how he landed. An ambulance is called, but, we are in the middle of the bush! He gets carefully carried out on a backboard through the bush (about an hour trek) by several people to the nearest road where a helicopter has landed to airlift him to the hospital. Everyone thinks he must have a broken neck.
      Nope. A dislocated shoulder, broken collar bone, and 8 broken ribs.
      What happened???
      Diesel was shod. He had stepped on a nearly invisible piece of ELECTRIFIED wire fence that had been broken. Same color as the gravel.
      Poor Diesel didn’t know what hit him! ⚡

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  11. I was lunging my horse at a horse show (I was 16 or 17 when this happened) and, like horses do, he ran away from me and kicked out as he ran away. You guessed it, he nailed me in the crotch at the full extension of his hind leg. Literally everyone at the horse show heard the crack. As horse girls do, I never went to the doctor and I couldn’t feel anything from the top of my hip bones to the tops of my thighs for about two weeks. I had a hoof shaped bruise on my crotch for about a month. A close family friend is a pediatrician and he told my parents that if my pelvis was broken, and it probably was, there wasn’t really anything they could do about it anyways.
    This injury was almost as good as the one when my brother shot me in the shin with a .22 when I was in 2nd grade. It was on a Sunday so my parents wouldn’t take me to the hospital until it was a weekday. Saw the doc Monday, they took the bullet out of my leg on Wednesday.

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  12. omg. I saw the title of this post, and really didn’t expect it to take that turn! Holy… Glad it healed. Ugh. I can only imagine how awful that was!
    I can think of lots of stupid falls, but fortunately I came out unscathed most of the time. There was one time I fell of getting on and broke my nose though. That was pretty dumb. It was a barely broke pony, (like saddle broke for three weeks) and my trainer neglected to warn me that she hadn’t been ridden in four days. I was swinging on and she threw her head up and knocked me off.

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  13. My injury was not as gruesome as some here, but painful enough, AND embarrassing! Long ago I took lessons at a pretty cheesy stable that was the only one I could get to on public transport. My horse for the day was a big bony, draft cross that I had to ride bareback because it had girth galls. (It was a *really* crumby stable, let’s face it.) By the end of the hour-long lesson, I knew that I now had girth galls, you-know-where, but it didn’t feel too bad. It was a sunny October day, and while riding I had tied my sweater around my waist. But on the way home, I felt the autumn chill and put the sweater on. As I did so, my hand brushed across my butt, which felt slightly damp. “Oh, just some sweat from old Ebony”, I surmised, and thought no more of it. BUT, when I got home, a glance in a mirror revealed the ghastly truth – the back of my britches was soaked with blood! What my fellow passengers on the bus, subway and streetcar must have thought is best left unknown…

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  14. As soon as I read the title I thought back to that incident… Honestly, I was less injured to that area giving birth to my 9 lb child.

    I think my worst injury is the one I did just a few months ago: trip, fall, break arm in two places, knock joint out of place, have to have surgery and a giant metal plate put in to put me back together. From tripping. After 25 years of horses, it’s my damn clumsiness that does that. I was coming back from feeding horses, so is it horse related? So dumb.

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  15. ouch. my lady bits are empathizing with you!!

    my worst fall was last year – riding Annie bareback in the winter and she went to turn around on a section of road and slipped on some hidden ice. We both went down hard and when she scrambled to get back up, she inadvertently kneed me right in the face. I broke my nose.

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  16. Ouch. All of them. Ouch.

    I broke my wrist and didn’t feel I thing (pinned it right back together with surgery) but I did make two people vomit when they came to “help” me with my horse. Who knew that your wrist dangling loose and backwards was so upsetting. I only had awkward moments doing the paperwork after bathroom, lingering pain after fileting the lady bits…OMG, please no!!!

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  17. ohhh I nearly avoided a disaster like yours but was dismounting slowly enough to untangle myself and muster a “thank God I avoided that one!” A quick review of times I was not so fortunate to avoid disaster:
    * cracked my pelvis coming off an old H/J school who hadn’t been ridden in a few days and given red cell and a much higher alfalfa portion (all unknown to me)
    * broke my foot clear across the bridge when grooming sweet 22 y/o appendix gelding spooked at a sheepskin saddlepad that had been on the rail across the grooming stall THE WHOLE TIME, he basically pivoted on my foot to break the cross-ties and zoom outta there. Didn’t know anything was broken until my older sister insisted on taking me to the dr. when foot was black, blue and swollen.
    * was leading current horse up a steep hill that he always likes to charge up. He was feeling a bit keen on that windy day so I put a chain on him anticipating shenanigans. He started to charge up hill, I corrected him and he did a fancy little spin kick and NAILED me in my upper thigh. At the time it felt like he hit me in my stomach, but perfect horse shoe bruise proved that my thunder thighs saved me from a break of any major injury. needless to say we had some groundwork CTJ moments after that and he now leads like a champ.

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  18. Broke my jaw when I was 14 and decided to jump on my children’s hunter bareback in the middle of winter…after show sheening her for whatever reason.

    Jumped on…and went straight over the other side chin first into a cavaletti that was on the side of the ring on the other side of the mounting block.

    Honestly lucky I didn’t break my neck landing chin first like that.

    I don’t ride bareback anymore…

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  19. I did something similar as a child on a tree that I was climbing. Slipped and came down WHAM with the tree limb in my crotch. I was too ashamed to admit to my parents that I had hurt myself in my lady bits so suffered in silence until it finally healed up. It was awful!

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  20. Ouch, Amanda. I cannot imagine! 😣 I have had many but my worst (meaning dumbest and most painful) was when I got done schooling a horse on a warm but very windy day. I untacked him, hosed the sweat off and put him in the stall to dry off. I needed to get to my job and he was 80% dry so lead him out to turn him out. He started to drop in the dirt for a good roll and like an idiot, to keep him from rolling and getting dirty, I shook the halter towards him! Duh, he leaped straight up in the air, spun around and took off at a gallop. When he lept into the air his back foot caught me in the abdomen, knocking me on my arse. The pain was excruiating. I laid there trying to catch my breath. I was home alone so no one to help. I finally managed to get myself to the phone in the tack room. My son came and took me to the ER where they kept me overnight, to be sure ther was no internal bleeding. The pain was so intense they put me on morphine!

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  21. Mine isn’t horse related, but I was getting ready for work. Flipped my head over to blow dry my hair upside down. Gave myself a grade 2 concussion. When I flipped my head over, I headbashed the corner of the sink (as hard as I could?). Required a full tube of glue on my scalp and lost almost an inch long section of hair. I now am very careful when blow drying my hair…

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  22. I was down and the barn feeding and stepping into one of my drafts muddy hoof impressions and shattered my ankle and had to have ankle replacement surgery! But you still win. Ouch

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  23. I lol’d at this, but while cringing!
    Thankfully I haven’t broken anything (yet). A couple of minor concussions, sprained knee, sprained wrist, kicks to the thighs about 3 times (including one from a Belgian cross). Not much for 30 years of horses!

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  24. My worst riding injury was fracturing my spine, and I’ll honestly take that injury over what you did to yourself any day.

    To make you feel better, here’s my dumbest riding injury. (Keep in mind that I’m in my late teens when this happened, so stupid decisions are abundant.) I was riding a particularly rank mare on a leisurely group trail ride in which my friends and I were also imbibing beer. This mare was renowned for not liking to go through water. She would jump it if she could, if she couldn’t jump it she would try to bolt around it. We came up to a particularly large puddle that she could not jump, surrounded by dense brush and trees. I had just opened a beer, when I suddenly realized that I needed both hands on the reins to get through this puddle. My teenaged brain came to the brilliant conclusion that I could just hold the can of beer in my teeth while getting the mare through the puddle. Halfway through the puddle, the mare bolted sideways out of the puddle and into the trees. I split my lip, chipped a tooth and busted my nose, but I stayed on the mare and did not drop the beer.

    I frequently wonder how I survived into adulthood.

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