Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ramblings.......... A Little on USEF.........a Little on Fear

The reason for my last post was not to scare people into thinking they can't be safe around their horses. The fact that something "might" happen will never stop me from doing what I do. The problem, certainly for me, is if I do get hurt, I rarely take good care of myself. I don't want to be a causuality of my own neglect.

I know I'm not alone in this dilemma. Many more horse people I know overlook their injuries than deal with them. In the instance of head trauma or blunt force trauma to the torso, such oversight can be deadly.

The reason for that is a blood vessel can be weakened enough to put a person at risk and there will be no physical pain associated with that injury. Only when the thing bursts is there any sign of the injury. That's why the level one trauma folks will immobilize anyone who's suffered that kind of injury even though all indications say the person is fine. Even a little movement can cause a weak blood vessel to explode. If I ever get ordered to complete bed rest when I'm feeling

The situation with horse people ignoring the dangers of head injury is significant enough that USEF now has a rule to deal with situations like this. It doesn't matter whether the accident happens on the ground or it is a riding accident. If there is an incident of head injury where there is any question of concussion the exhibitor cannot compete without a release from a doctor.

A form is filed by the show's paramedic. The show is in turn required to make a filing immediately with USEF. That exhibitor not only cannot compete at the current event but any event in the future until the necessary release has been given by a doctor.

Knowing human nature like I do, the fact USEF has taken this kind of stance tells me an exhibitor somewhere has paid with her/his life. Liability issues may be USEF's motivation for the rule but it's probably a good thing. Knowing of it's existence has helped me to see the seriousness of my flawed thinking about head trauma.

For me that brings up the subject of fear. Fear can be a good thing when it protects us from danger. BUT it's a bad thing when it is not rational. It's important that we have balance when it comes to fear and dealing with horses.

Finding that line can be difficult. What is a healthy amount of fear? What is crippling fear? Each of us must answer that question for ourselves because we are the ones that must deal with the consequences of our decisions.

For me, allowing the thoughts of what a horse "might" do stop me from enjoying them would be bad news. Horses bring me such joy I can't imagine a day without them that means I must find a way to be with them and be safe.

To do this I focus on ground manners. If my horses know their boundaries I'm less likely to get hurt. The more precise those boundaries are the safer I become.

If I'm ever feeling insecure around a horse, I channel my insecurities into fixing the problem. I go back to basics and start working on those groundwork boundaries. Nine times out of ten it will fix my insecurity and fix the horse all at the same time. That way I using my fear in a constructive way that keeps me active with my horses and makes me safer at the same time.

Pictured is Heiress. No horse has driven my fear more than this one.

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  1. Yeah, I'm one of those people who never go to the doctor for injuries. Honestly, I don't know that I'll ever change. I can only hope that I have a good guardian angel watching over me.

  2. I think USEF is doing the right thing by having someone get a DR's release before they ride after an accident. Even if it is to protect their butts, it also will protect the rider. I agree with you that there are a lot of people out there that don't get checked out after a fall. If I ever have another serious fall from a horse, I will get checked out, I am getting too old for any more injuries, and it is better to be safe the sorry!
    I also agree with the fear issue. Since that that fall from my Paint, I have had serious fear riding her. I started ground work last year with her and have felt my confidence increase ten fold. Just that feeling of being able to control her from the ground increased my confidence with controlling her while riding. It does wonders! And I will go back to ground work if I feel that fear slip back into my mind.

  3. Crashed off my horse. My tummy hurt quite a bit, but I was otherwise fine. Took a pill my friend gave me for nausea which knocked me out.

    The next morning I was still hurting a little if I moved in certain ways and finally agreed that afternoon to go to the hospital.

    I'd lacerated my spleen and had bled internally all night long. It had clotted, but I needed a blood transfusion and many days of hospitalization to be sure that the clot would hold and I wouldn't need my spleen removed.

    I was lucky. Go to the doctor! That's the lesson I learned.

  4. I think more people get injured when they have no fear around horses. They tend to not be as watchful and careful and then accidents occur. So I am totally agreeing that a little fear is a good thing.
    I tend not to be fearful of my animals, but I try to remember they are big and can hurt me easily without meaning it.

  5. Not a horse related accident, but last winter a friend of mine slipped on the ice and bruised her leg very badly. At first she was just going to "walk it off" but a few days later another friend told her about an accident he'd had with similar serious bruising that had resulted in a blood clot. She decided to go to the hospital at that point and sure enough, she was in danger because the bruising was so deep. She's now had to be on medication for 6 months and is under doctors orders that if she insists on riding she must wear a helmet since the meds could make any head trauma serious. So sometimes something that looks like nothing really is something.

  6. Just catching up - funny how it takes death for us to take a look at our own mortality. I lose count htinking how many times I could have gone to a doctor - or perhaps should have - after a fall off a horse while jumping - or buck when training. I'm even medically trained and am an emergency instructor - yet it seems everyone's always more important then myself.

  7. The recent Courtney King-Dye incident has also brought renewed attention to the issue.