Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing

Thursday February 25 2010

Little did Keith Urban know, I bet, that when he gave his 2006 album this title that it was the perfect theme for Endurance riders.

There's no question most of us love our horses and love the opportunity they give us to get out and ride, and ride far, and it's pretty obvious many of us are obsessed with it. Even if there is a little pain involved.

Look at Melissa, who broke her leg pretty badly a few months ago, and got 3 accomplices to sneak her out to her horse and put her on board. She may not be done with surgeries yet, but she's already making plans to ride Tevis (of all rides!) this year and is having her horse taught to lay down so she can mount easier. Her doctor isn't excited about that, but, what's he going to do?

Is she crazy?

Not any crazier than, say, Karen, who rode Tevis (of all the rides to do this!) with a broken rib, and a punctured spleen in questionable state of repair.

Karen II got jumped on by her horse, spent a day running errands before she went to the doctor and found her leg was broken. She rode once with a broken arm too.

Five miles from the finish of the 2009 Pan American Championship in Guatemala, a Malaysian rider's horse fell 5 miles from the finish. The rider was hurt and couldn't remount, but as his team was in contention for a medal, he walked the 5 miles in on foot leading his horse, and remounted (with help from his team) to cross the finish line before he was hauled off in an ambulance. He'd broken his collarbone. (They won the medal).

I heard a rumor that one US rider rode a loop with an IV needle in her arm, but i haven't been able to confirm that yet.

Julie Suhr, our 'First Lady of Endurance,' broke her shoulder in a fall from her best horse, HCC Gazal +/, 5 weeks before the Tevis ride that could have, with a finish, given her her 20th buckle. While the doctor told her she'd be fine in a couple of months (!!!), Julie rode Tevis anyway. She compromised by riding a borrowed horse, not Gazal, who tended to pull her arms out of her sockets. Her arm hurt the day before, and the day after, Tevis, but not at all on the day she became the first rider ever to receive a 2000-mile Tevis Cup silver buckle.

One of the world's top endurance riders from Australia fell off a horse last year and was in a coma for nearly two months. She's determined to get back to riding as soon as possible.

One gal broke her foot out on a loop on an endurance ride... but she didn't quit when she got to the vet check. She sucked it up and went out on the second loop and finished her ride... and only afterwards removed her shoe and dealt with the damage.

I myself am guilty of the Whole Crazy Thing, although I am definitely wimpier than a lot of tougher riders. I had a sorry accident 10 years ago, and was desperate to ride again. I had no business getting on a horse 2 1/2 months after the accident, but I was consumed with an almost deperate need to do so... and I did.

I broke a middle toe in June and, sad to say, totally wimped out from riding 2 days. I'm still miffed about that - I should have just cut the top of my shoe off and sucked it up and rode! (I mean - really - it was one toe, not even the big one!)

When I broke my rib in September, I climbed right back on my horse and rode him some more (before the breathing got too difficult : ) to make sure he knew he couldn't just get away with dumping me and running off. However, I just couldn't bring myself to do a 5-day ride a week later. (I could have dealt with the pain, but not the chance of worse injury, and the expense, and the extra time off I would have been forced to take.)

I have a knee that's about shot, but I keep riding - I can't take the time (or money) to get it looked at. I figure I have quite a ways to go before the pain gets really bad.

Why do we do it? Because we love our horses. We love riding. Even though there is 'always another ride,' we don't want to miss one. I don't think we are masochists. Or are we? I know we're addicts. Count me as one.

What about you - have you ridden with pain, broken bones, damaged organs? Or, I should probably be asking, how many of you HAVEN'T ridden without pain and damage, when you definitely shouldn't have?

Are riders of other disciplines as Crazy? Or is it mainly endurance riders that have a lack of judgment?


Mary said...

Yep...think your right there because "In riding a horse we borrow freedom" I think we also get some kind of endorphin release for any pain while we are riding/competing. Broke leg 3 times while galloping on race track and rode with cast all times...thumb on right hand but the cast made it bearable to a flack jacket to make my doctor happy and rode 2 weeks after. I did ride (pleasure not compete) with an IV in my hand while I was healing from injury caused by horse stepping on my thigh after fall. Last year I sprained my ankle the nite before a comp. and it just did not occur to me not to start the next day and guess what the pain was OK while i rode but had to have a friend trot my horse at the VC...weird...
WHY do we??? Not cause we are trying to prove anything I think its just what we do and it is the best medicine, pain killer, prozac I know of....If I can't get on the horse due to pain, and this has happened, I have to at least be around them... it just helps, its hard to explain to those that don't ride that while on board everything slows down even if we go fast and the world just makes sense, problems/worries disappear at least for the moment.
I just need to learn how to stay in 1 piece because I am getting slower to heal with age and all those injuries are starting to pay me back in aches!

Anonymous said...

ah yes as an endurance (ultrarunner)... it's the ol "nothing suceeds like obsession".. whilst a complete newbie compared to ya'lll.. it's also a lesson in "feel the fear and do it anyway" :)

sit down and ride
happy trails
cid and g-man