My 4 year old gelding broke my back - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: California
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• Horses: 3
My 4 year old gelding broke my back

So I have a 4 year old appaloosa. He is VERY green, but also very mellow, and he often tricks me into being too careless when working with him, because he often acts older than he is.

A few months ago, I was riding with a friend in the arena. We were both bareback, and we were standing our horses next to one another while we chatted. My horse was being good so I dropped the reins. Then, my friend's horse decided to pick up one of the nearby plastic barrels in the arena, and toss it straight at my horse. My horse had a MAJOR spook and jumped to the side, bucked and bolted. I fell off and twisted my foot, getting a bad sprain. I was on crutches for two weeks.

Then last week, I was gathering up my confidence to ride again and I decided to go for a short, easy ride in the arena. I had been lunging him and he was doing well. So I put an english saddle on him and set a mounting block on his left side. He has always been kind of squirmy about the mounting block. As I was throwing my leg over, he moved and instead of landing my butt in the saddle, I landed on his rump. He freaked out and took off at a gallop. I should have jumped off, but didn't. He ran halfway around the arena, then started bucking. I came of when he bucked, and landed on my back, suffering a compression fracture of my L1 vertebra.

I am in the hospital, and I will be laid up healing for a long time. Luckily, I am not paralyzed and when I heal I will be good as new. I always wear my helmet when riding, otherwise I would be dead.

I'm so lucky to not be paralyzed or dead. I feel like it would be foolish to ride again and push my luck further, and it would be extremely foolish to keep riding this horse. I don't think he is too much for me, I was just unlucky two times in a row. I could just as easily have landed a little differently and I would be fine.

My parents (although I am 21 and an adult) want me to quit riding and get rid of the horse. My boyfriend and sister feel the same way. I have one friend - a fellow rider, who thinks I should keep the horse and get back on.

I thought about waiting until I heal, and then do ground work with him for like 6 months. Maybe try natural horsemanship and get him to be totally bombproof and way more obedient. It is his spooking and bolting and bucking that is most dangerous. He only does it with good reason - it's not just disobedience, but he is spooked really easily and he has a big reaction.

Does anyone have any advice? What would you do in this situation? Should I just sell him and buy an old bombproof horse, or stop riding all together? Please help. Riding is my life.

The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
He's of the color of the nutmeg and of the heart of the ginger.
His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch,
And his countenance enforces homage.
- William Shakespeare
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post #2 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 01:00 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2007
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It is unfortunate what has happened to you and i wish you well with your recover! I personally do not believe in buying and then selling animals....but for a lot of people that is an option. if it were me, i wouldn't ride until i knew that he was less spooky. i am breaking my gelding right now, and although i have sat on him at a walk around the arena maybe 3x in the past 6 months, i always have someone holding a lead until he gets used to the bit, weight, ect. until that time when we can ride alone, i am doing a bunch of ground work....the biggest mistake i made is not teaching him to stand we are backtracking on that right now. also, you need to expose him to a bunch of different things before even thinking about just getting on and riding. run at him, rub him all over and bang things near him, have someone act silly in the arena, plastic bags, branches, tarp, whistle, cell phone, ect...there's still so much you can do. it's not the horses fault its' the riders and if i fall off, it's because i wasnt' paying attention to the body language the horse was putting off. you need to be one step ahead of them :). good luck in your future endevour with the horse, if it were me...ide get a trainer to help with lessons and stuff, work for about 6 months, then maybe try again. just because you are not riding, doesnt mean you're not able to learn a ton more. everything you learn/teach on the ground you will use in the saddle :)
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post #3 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 01:07 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Arkansas
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I am sorry to hear about your accident, but happy you were not injured any worse.

Your horse is only 4yrs old. It's just going to take a lot of wet saddle blankets to get him "broke". I would hand him over to someone who will use him while you heal. He needs daily riding/working, a low or no-grain diet, and consistent training. Natural Horsemanship is fine, but this guy just needs hours under the saddle and time to mature. No amount of round pen or ground work is going to get him "bombproof". To become bombproof, he needs to experience life as a riding horse under confident and experienced rider/trainer.

I would personally hand him over to someone who will use him 4-6 days a week. Around here, that would be a working ranch, a sale barn, or a rental string. Four is a bit young to be working that hard though, so I'd wait until 4.5 yrs old, and maybe send him for some ground work training until then. Those hocks should be good and closed by 4.5 yrs old, and then he can start some harder work.

Once you're healed and ready to get back to work, if you're not 100% ready or able to work daily with a youngster and use safe practices with that horse, then you should either work closely with a trainer on this guy, or sell him and move on.

Good luck with him and don't give up, at least not on riding in general. Work with a trainer and learn your limitations. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
luvs2ride1979 is offline  
post #4 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: California
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Thanks for the replies!

I know the accident was more my fault then his. I was being careless. The thing is, he is not recently broke. When I was getting on that day, it wasn't like the first time I'd been on his back, it was like the 200th time. Normally, he is great under saddle and I get compliments on how calm and obedient he is. But when something spooks him, which is totally unpredictable, he goes crazy.

I have done most of his training myself and come an extremely long way with him. When I first got him he was accustomed to weight on his back, but not much else, and now he knows his leads, he can balance himself properly, he is even leg yielding and side stepping. His transitions are 100% better than when he started, and he has really begun to accept the bit. I admit that I should have been more cautious when mounting, but it was a freak accident and not the result of me being an ignorant beginning trainer.

I do not have the money to send him to a trainer. Ordinarily, I would never buy any animal planning on selling it, but I did not anticipate ending up in the hospital with a broken back.

I think the root of my problem is that I have been focusing on refining him under saddle when he really needs more work just being desensitized to things like surprises and new conditions. I need to know that he will be safe if something spooky pops up while I am riding, and it is much easier to teach him calmness from the ground rather from just getting on a putting miles on him. That's what I have been doing for the past 8 months - putting miles on him, but I think I need a different approach.

I am really, really attached to this horse. I love him like a baby and I do not blame him one little bit for the accident. I know he was just acting naturally for a 4 year old horse who is 1/4 arabian. But I am under a LOT of pressure from my family and friends to get rid of him. Besides, my confidence has been shaken and I don't know that I am brave enough an longer to give him the consistency he needs. I have fallen off and hurt myself before and it never phased me, but this time I came a breath away from never walking again.

The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
He's of the color of the nutmeg and of the heart of the ginger.
His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch,
And his countenance enforces homage.
- William Shakespeare
cherriebark is offline  
post #5 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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wow, i'm sorry to hear that but i'm glad you will be ok :P I personally think you should keep the horse, and build your confidence to get back on :) definately dont quit all together I think that buyer may be a little discouraged from buying your baby if they know he broke your back
good luck and feel better soon

A good horse can never be a bad colour...
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 05:37 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Australia
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I'm sorry to hear about your accident. I can see your getting a lot of conflicting opinions here and so you're going to need to think hard about who's advice you take. My advice would be to sell him and get another, quieter horse. As sad as it may be to sell him, its not worth keeping him if you don't have the confidence to work with him and help him grow out of habit of overreacting. I suggest you get a quiet horse that will give you confidence and help you feel safer. I really don't want you to get hurt again by riding your current horse, even if it wasn't his fault to begin with. Additionally, you don't have support from your family/boyfriend which always makes it harder. Perhaps they'd be happy with a compromise - sell your current horse for a quieter one. I know it isn't desirable to buy then sell horses, but I'm thinking of both of your future! Hope you have a speedy recovery!

When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ~William Shakespeare
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post #7 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Greenville area / SC
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I'm really sorry to hear about any accident concerning horses. Many years ago I was in a car accident and had compression fractures of 2 disks (it was so long ago -1976 - that I can't remember which ones but they were in the T region). After a stay in the hospital I was fitted with a brace that I had to wear for several months. It took a year before I was ready for physical work again. After that year I was riding motorcycles and started back with horses again (I didn't own one at the time).

My point is that it took a long time to come around and it needed to happen slowly. That is a long time for your horse to go without constant training at this stage in his life. Even so, I would suggest selling your horse and waiting until you are 100% then getting an older horse to reestablish your balance and confidence before starting again with a young one.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
iridehorses is offline  
post #8 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Oh man!!! I'm so glad that you're (mostly) OK! I agree that you should probably get a horse that is calm and bombproof.Or at least find one to ride. I don't know what type of community you live in, but maybe consider leasing your 4 y/o to a trainer that is near you, and perhaps try to negotiate riding one of their older lesson horses until you get your physical ability/confidence back. I'm sorry you have to make this tough decision.


steph is offline  
post #9 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 138
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I Am sorry to here your misfortune. I myself am facing a similar decision with a 5 year old gelding. I luckily haven't broken anything yer but could have. IF I were you, I would be very careful with not re-injuring your back. If you push too soo, you could do very serious damage to yourself.
aappyfan1 is offline  
post #10 of 16 Old 10-05-2008, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: SE Kansas
Posts: 10,620
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Sorry this had to happen to you, I too took a fall last year and fractured 3 transverse processes in my lumbar area. Not as bad as a vertebrae but still pretty painful for an old gal. Nothing my horse did, just me being careless. I never even considered selling my horse. She is a now 9 year old mare that I trust as much as you can trust any horse. She had to go riderless for 3-4 months while I recuperated. We had to take it slow, for me to get my confidence back and for her to get back in shape and refresher training.
Only you can make the decision to keep or sell your horse. If you think you will have the time, know how and confidence to restart your riding/training then I see no reason to sell him. Accidents happen. If you think you can gain the trust needed to be a good rider/horse team with this horse keep him. If you don't think you can, sell him.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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