I inhaled the early morning country air as I stood, bathed in the April sun. What a great day for it, I thought. The cold, sub zero winter had meant that we hadn’t really done much, had been restricted by the bad weather, sometimes housebound by snow. But today was different. Today Spring, maybe even the very earliest of Summer was here. It felt good. It felt good not to be wrapped up in duck down stuffed jackets and layers of wool and fleece.
He felt it too. There was a spring in his step. We hadn’t met before, he was new to me and I to him but I thought we’d get along just fine. His blond hair was highlighted by the suns rays. He was giddy, excitable. It perturbed me slightly but I figured I was in control. I wouldn’t let him get out of hand. We walked along the country path, a nice easy pace to warm up. He wanted to go up the hill but I was too nervous for that so refused him.
We decided to pick up the pace and canter up the field. The cool breeze felt therapeutic on my face and in my hair. His hair too danced along to the same rhythm. But something in him changed. He became agitated, skittish and I knew he wanted to be somewhere else. Suddenly he bolted. Took flight across the field. The rocks and hilly bumps in the grass whizzed past in a green and brown blur. I panicked. I pulled sharply on the reigns to reign him in and remind him that I was boss and unfortunately it worked and he stopped dead.
I struggled to balance my weight in the stirrups, grasping his rough mane in my hands but it wasn’t enough. I took to the air, sailing over his head. It took what felt like minutes to hit the ground. First my hip, then my arm, shoulder and then head. I felt a split second of relief that I seemed uninjured until the next split second arrived with a hoof in my back. Pain ripped through my pelvis. Any air that resided in my lungs had been evicted by the force and I now realised I was dying. This, lying on the ground, gasping, begging for my lungs to work, was how I was going to die.
The smell of the grass, soil and equine excrement filled my nose but got no further. The cool morning air that I had so revelled in only moments before, was refused entry to where I needed it most. I thought about my children, they would be devastated. My husband too. He had warned me this was dangerous but I refused to listen. And now I was dying and he was right: that almost never happened! I continued to gasp while I heard the steady beat of hooves coming towards me.
‘Help me’ I managed to croak. It took as much effort as I imagined climbing a mountain would take. ‘Please help me’.
Suddenly arms were around me, telling me to calm down and take deep breaths. I protested that I couldn’t breath but the voice was insistent. Just take deep breaths, you can do it. And slowly but surely, my lungs relented and took a gasp of air. I thought about my children again and my husband. I was going to live and I’d have to tell him he was right. I sat for what felt like an hour but was probably only minutes, just rejoicing in the ability to breathe again. I greedily took great lung fulls of air. But then it was time to stand up. No problem, I thought. As I lifted my left leg, a pain shot through me like an ignited arrow. My heart sank. I wasn’t getting away as lightly as I had hoped. I hobbled back to the car and sat, overwhelmed and sobbing. Embarrassment, shame, pain and embarrassment again ran through me. I had messed up. I was supposed to know what to do in the event of this happening. I had lost my nerve, felt too much fear. He sensed that. He didn’t know how to deal with it and this was the result.
I lay on the physiotherapists table the next day, wincing at every one of her touches. I imagined this must be what it’s like to be massaged by someone who really hates you. She told me to go home and rest, which I did. I lay in bed, hot water bottle behind my back and opened my computer. The sudden urge took over me and I began to type and type and type. My prose was not a long one. It read “Horse Riding Equipment for Sale”.