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Q&A with Pete: What's it like being thrown from a horse headlong into a gate? - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [Pete and Pam's pages (photos and some commentary)] [Pam's journal] [Our company] [My Flickr Photos] [Arisia]
April 15th, 2010
10:06 pm

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Q&A with Pete: What's it like being thrown from a horse headlong into a gate?
A diagram of the forces on the brain in concussion

Image via Wikipedia

Hello folks, I'm here to answer questions about how I almost died. I'll answer the most frequently asked questions here, and you may add your own in comments.
Q: Back up a second, Pete. You almost what?
A: Yes, I nearly ended up dead or paralyzed on Sunday. It was pretty bad. I'm not attempting to minimize those who have actually died or been paralyzed; that is far worse than what happened to me. There are, however, a whole panoply of things that suck much less than being thrown off a horse, knocked out cold, and eventually being carted off to the emergency room in a cervical collar and on a backboard
Q: I'm still confused. I thought Pam was the horse-crazy person in this relationship. I'd always thought that if someone in your family was going to get carted off in an ambulance after an equitational faux pas it would be her.
A: I'm still waiting for you to come up with a question. Seriously though, there's an important difference: Pam knows how to ride horses; I don't. I can walk them around, pick my way along on a trail ride, cool a horse out after its workout. This horse was green--he'd been very responsive to voice commands and ground-driving, being tacked up, having people lay their whole weight across the saddle. Somehow I convinced myself that he'd be all right if I just got up and sat in the saddle for a minute. Pam was reluctant, but agreed that should be okay, as long as I hopped off if anything seemed bad.
Q: That doesn't sound too bad. What's wrong?
A: I've only ever hopped off well-behaved horses that stand still for you to dismount. Apparently hopping off a horse that goes crazy because somebody he thought was his friend is now sitting on him is a somewhat trickier proposition. Don't worry, though, I did end up off the horse very shortly.
Q: Really, what happened?
A: I wish I could tell you. The last memory I have is realizing that he was going haywire, and leaning to the left to swing my way off. The next thing I remember, I was lying on my back, looking across the sacrifice area, holding on to someone's legs, and feeling quite a substantial amount of pain--everywhere--but mostly in my neck and lower back.
Q: You don't remember anything?
A: Not a blessed thing. Pam tells me that I appeared to switch tacks from trying to hop off to holding on for dear life--another rookie instinct that must be overcome by training I haven't had. From Pam's description, a final good buck and turn launched me into a somersault. The somersault might have been okay if I had been able to complete and roll out of it. I have practiced that sort of move in Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. Sadly, though, any hope of finishing the "tuck and roll" gracefully were rudely interrupted by my head and then torso intersecting the plane of the closed metal gate leading in to the turn-out pen.
Q: Your head hit first?
A: Thankfully one piece of equestrian training I have absorbed is to always wear your helmet. I highly doubt I would be typing this account myself if I hadn't been wearing protective gear. If you ride, wear your helmet. No exceptions, no excuses.
Q: Noted; so then what?
A: Pam had been busy answering the same questions that I asked her over and over again, simultaneously trying to direct the rescue crew to the barn. She had to deal with my repeated questions and statements--such gems as
Me: "I fell off a horse?"
Pam: "Yes."
Me: "That was dumb."
All the while she braved dropped 911 calls, trying to keep track of my erstwhile mount that was wandering around dragging his reins, and fending off another curious horse on the other side of the gate who did not seem worried about the risk of injuring me further by pushing on the gate that my concussed head was pressed against.
Q: Wow, Pam is amazing.
A: I agree with you; as a counterpoint, may I only note that she didn't talk me out of this particularly stupid idea I had about sitting on a green horse.
Q: So what happened next?
A: The rescue crew triaged me, got me in the cervical collar and on the backboard. Apparently I yelled about this quite a bit, as it hurt. I don't actually remember this part. It was shortly after this point that I started to get a little more coherent and could begin remembering new things again. To cut to the chase, I was whisked to the hospital, where my dad met up with us to give Pam some backup with the two kids and broken husband situation. They put me in the CT scanner--I only have a vague memory of the cylindrical whirling thing. At some point they authorized some painkillers. Dilaudid [Valium, I believe] actually did nothing for the pain--it just made me sleepy so I wasn't awake to notice it constantly. The next drug they gave me actually did cut the pain somewhat. Head, neck, and lower back were the primary spots that hurt. It wasn't until the next day that I noticed the more odd pains--my right big toe, my left pinky, my jaw--as if I had been punched right in the chin, and other miscellaneous bit players came out to lend their voices to the stars.
Q: So what was the diagnosis?
A: Essentially that I am one extended bruise and strain from tip to stern, capped off by a concussion. Rest, stretching exercises, and avoiding anything that might result in another head injury while I am recovering from this one are in order.

Thank you all for your patience...this is about as much sitting as I can handle right now, so I'm going to do my stretches and call it a night.





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From:firebitch
Date:April 16th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
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Glad you're not dead!
I was bucked off of a pony at a very young age and never rode after that.
Horses - don't trust 'em.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)

Trusting horses

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I've known some that are rock-solid and reliable...and some that I won't even be near, let alone ride.

I just didn't get the category right for this guy.
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From:fibro_witch
Date:April 16th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
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Glad to hear you are safe and healing after your fall. While I love to ride, it has been a long time since I have ridden. And I never ever rode a green horse.

I agree that you should never get on a horse unless you have a helmet on. Even great riders (of which I am not one) get tossed some times.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)

Thanks

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Others have mentioned an Olympic rider that didn't wear her helmet on a what should have been a routine ride...Apparently she's now undergoing rehab for a serious brain injury.
From:fibro_witch
Date:April 23rd, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Thanks

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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Thanks

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From:quietann
Date:April 16th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
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Kudos to you for wearing your helmet! You're smarter than Olympic dressage rider Courtney King-Dye, who was not wearing a helmet when she thrown from a young horse when it tripped, and sustained major brain injury and is in the process of a very lengthy rehab...

Anyway, ouch! Horses are dangerous! But I gotta love them anyway... just wouldn't be the one to get on a green horse for the first time.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)

I wish her the best.

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I'm sure that neither one of us are happy to be object lessons in the advantages of wearing a helmet, nor the disadvantages of going without. Yet, there it is. It's less than two weeks later, and my symptoms are down to twinges, sore spots, and headaches...whereas it sounds like Ms. King-Dye's life has been forever altered for the worse.
From:quietann
Date:April 23rd, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)

Re: I wish her the best.

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From:dcseain
Date:April 16th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
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I am thrilled to hear from you, and pray the healing continues apace for you.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)

So far, so good...

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Come out and visit again, some time!
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From:elfwench
Date:April 16th, 2010 03:51 am (UTC)
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Wow, you are one lucky son of a gun on all accounts there. Glad to have you still with us. {{hugs}} Dilaudid is an opioid analgesic. http://www.rxlist.com/dilaudid-drug.htm

I think you should get back on the horse once you are healed, just not... um... that horse.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)

Right...

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Amazingly almost the only who hasn't trotted out that line--jokingly or otherwise--is prettypammie herself.
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From:deza
Date:April 16th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
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The first time I was tossed, my foot caught in the stirrup and I was drug through a recently-plowed cornfield. You can tell the real horse nuts because we'll go through something like that, then get back on and keep riding.

Glad you had the helmet on, but you may want to work with a trainer on breaking horses. I can tell you from experience that wheelchairs are a pain in the butt.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)

dragged through a corn-field...

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Did you have riding boots on? prettypammie is very strict about proper footwear for us when riding--everything has to have a proper heel, no sneakers, etc.
From:deza
Date:April 23rd, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)

Re: dragged through a corn-field...

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From:hammercock
Date:April 16th, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)
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Holy shit! No dying or paralysis for you!
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)

Right...

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I'm against those. You may smack me [gently] on the brain-pan and remind me of these important words to live by when next we see one another.
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From:vettecat
Date:April 16th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
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Wow. Very glad you're OK! (Do you remember what the second drug was? S. had the same experience after his recent surgery.)
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From:happypete
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)

Toredol (sp?)

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They mentioned the name as it was going in, but I really don't know much more than that.
From:vettecat
Date:April 21st, 2010 04:53 am (UTC)

Re: Toredol (sp?)

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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:55 am (UTC)

Re: Toredol (sp?)

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From:vettecat
Date:April 23rd, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)

Re: Toredol (sp?)

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From:dandelion_diva
Date:April 16th, 2010 07:05 am (UTC)
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I'm so glad you're mostly okay and I hope you're feeling much better very soon.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)

Thank you so much...

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I'm feeling loads better now.
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From:donnad
Date:April 16th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
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Wow, that must have been a scary situation for all involved, I'm glad you are mostly okay. I got to say, reading this I kept thinking, okay, he's in pain, he's not paralyzed. Pain is good. (well sorta.)

Fast healing thoughts...
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From:prettypammie
Date:April 16th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
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I thought the same thing when he was lying there moaning. I established that he could move his feet, then started the battle to keep him still. Oh, and the horse on the other side of the gate? I braced the gate, so he started nibbling and nosing at me. He is a 2yo WB. Very curious and very big.
From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)

Hey...

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From:badgerthorazine
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)

Kaboom!

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Glad you're just one big bruise instead of worse! Do what the doctor tells ya to, and no headbutting Pam or the kids. :-)
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)

Re: Kaboom!

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Sigh...but Nixie is so cute and one of her favorite things to do is to head-butt mommy or daddy and say, "Bonk!"
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From:martinhesselius
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
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Ouch --
I hope you heal quickly!
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)

So far so good!

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Thanks for the good wishes.
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From:gardenfey
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
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OMG! I'm glad that although you're hurt, that you are still alive! I wish you a speedy recovery.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)

Thank you.

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All the good wishes seem to be coming true. A little sore, a little bruised, a little achy--but definitely worlds better than last week.
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From:enchant
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
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Hug. Feel better soon mr happy!
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)

Working on it!

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Thanks for the cheerful calls! Keep on burning those calories, chica!
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From:waterfall_sh
Date:April 16th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Glad to hear you aren't seriously damaged. Take care of yourself, and I'm sure you'll be back to normal in no time.
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)

Back to normal?

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Wouldn't that imply that I started out normal in the first place?
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