It's been a busy week.
Last Thursday I went to Austria and bought a really nice 8 yr old mare who will be a great addition to my string. On Friday we were working all the horses at home on the outdoor ring. It was a cold enough day and all the horses were unbelievably fresh.
I suppose with the poor weather over Christmas none of them got their usual routine and lately have just been ridden in the indoor. I jumped a few of my young horses and they were in top form.
Ruth was riding her new horse and she said to me that he was a bit fresh and would just do flat work today. The next thing I noticed he was bucking, and playing around and after he threw his head into her face she lost her strength and fell off. The horse fell with her and stood on her back as he was getting away.
A horrific sight, and extremely daunting for Ruth and all who saw it. Ruth was conscious all the time but screaming with pain. We called the ambulance and they were at the yard within 25 minutes. At this stage she was still on the ground with rugs over her and I travelled in the ambulance with her. The 25 minute drive to the hospital in Drogheda felt like the longest journey of my life. A thousand thoughts were going through my head and the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome at this time was frightening.
All the staff at the hospital were tremendous. Despite being over-crowded and under staffed they were all so helpful and polite. Ruth's x-rays revealed a break to her sternum and thankfully just bruising to her neck, shoulders and back. She's naturally disgusted as had all sorts of plans in the coming weeks. She was kept in hospital for 24 hours but thankfully is home now with me.
Obviously it's a setback but it could have been a hell of a lot worse. She was wearing a riding hat thankfully. On speaking to another rider this weekend he said his livery clients are having the same problems. Horses too fresh, do damage to themselves and the ground if turned out and it’s not always practical when 40 horses are in work all the time. It's a Catch 22.
In future though we must ensure that the fizz is out of them before they work outdoors. Perhaps this is something that others can take from this experience. As professional riders we’re always busy running to the next target without thinking of any risk. Look at the horrific plane crash in Cork last weekend. I mean you can be killed crossing the road but we must acknowledge that horse sports are high risk and this incident will certainly make us at Karlswood a lot more aware.
On a positive note though, it means I get to spend Valentine's Day with my fiancée! I was meant to be teaching in Milan but put that off to stay with Ruth, even though she wanted me to go. I think she too is enjoying the service here in Foxlodge, being waited on hand and foot by moi. I even washed and blow-dried her hair last night - hidden talents!!
Thank God Ruth will be ok and will make a full recovery with rest. It makes you stop and think though about what is really important in life.