The Rider Rehab Calculator

Horse people.  Regular injury timelines don’t apply.  Here’s my personal handy-dandy Rider Layup Conversion equation:

  1. Doctors recovery recommendation: 6 weeks minimum for ribs to heal, expect 8, and know it takes a full year for bone density to return to normal after a break.  No horses.  (try to hear this info over the la la la la la in your head, you’ll need it for the conversion.)
  2. Plug in: Doctors Must Cover Their Butts, which shaves it back down to 6 weeks.
  3. Minus The Rider Factor: We heal quicker.  Subtract 1 week.
  4. Evaluate your new 5 week recovery time to come up with your projected possible re-ride date. We don’t care much about sore.  Real pain is a deal breaker, but real sore?  Nah.  Subtract 1 more week.
  5. Voila, the minimum time I must wait to get back on a horse: 4 weeks.  If there’s big pain, regroup.  If it’s just wow that’s sore: good to go.

I threw my doc’s ice/heat/stay quiet RX out the window, and iced the crap out of my ribs, figuring, like horses, it was going to warm up by itself when I took the ice off.  Who better than horse people to know the most fail-safe remedy for contusions, swelling and pain?  Ice.  Lots of ice, a lot of the time.  I strapped ice to my ribs with the polo wrap, and went about my life, changing it every time it hurt enough to make me want to quit.

I’m telling you, we all need to see our Veterinarians when we’re injured.

Week 4 arrived last week (okay, 3 days short, but who’s counting?):  I got on Tiny.

This time with a saddle, mounting block, and spotter.  Got right on, no pain.  A bit sore while we were walking around, but no big deal.  What really hurt was my back.  Apparently the force of breaking my rib rearranged the alignment of my spine.  OW.  My lower back never hurts.  I keep riding, because, well, that’s just chiropractic, it won’t hurt me.  I am über conservative: we walk.  I get real sore (but not in pain). Time to quit.

Problem.  Dismounting triggers the pain indicator to shoot up to Level “I’m going to DIE”.  It’s the swing-the-leg-over waist twist that produces the pain. Great.  I’ll be sleeping on Tiny tonight.

I contemplate other dismount methods.

  1. Offside Dismount? Nope.  Still twisting and swinging downward at the rib cage.  Yow!
  2. Teen Show Off Dismount?  Kick feet out of stirrups, swing R leg over his neck.  An upward twist, which didn’t seem to bother me while mounting.  Serious possibility.  I’d be sitting sideways in the saddle and launching myself forward  to the ground.  Something about this makes me uneasy.  I think it’s the possibility of a broken wrist.
  3. The Rump Dismount?  Haven’t done THAT in 40 years.  But this is Tiny, he won’t care.  I could just push myself back off the saddle, onto his butt and slide down.  The idea of my ribs sliding down that giant rump makes me pause.
  4. The Backward Rump Dismount?  Now that could work.  No saddle to bump.  Ease self off at backward angle.

I almost turn around before I realize how ridiculous this is.  What if he walks off?  I can’t look at him and judge how he’s reacting.  Plus if I slip, I’m under his back legs, right in good “AHHH!!!  What Was THAT?!?”, kicking range.

“Couldn’t you just lie down?”, I say to Tiny’s flicked back ears.  He snorts.

“Hey!”‘ I say indignantly, “Trigger could do it.”  He flicks his tail.  That would be NO.

Trainer rides up.

“Are you okay?”, she asks, concerned.

“I think I need a crane”, I say.

“You can’t get off?”, she says.

“Nope”, I say, looking at the clock.  “Will you bring me Chinese in an hour?

She laughs.  Uh. I’m not exactly kidding.  “C’mon”, she says, “We’ll get you off.”

Get off?  I’m already onboard with Chinese take out and a nice fleece blanket.  Tiny is comfy.  I’d better double the order.  Gotta share.  I picture noodles hanging out of Tiny’s big mouth.  Definitely need a large order of Chow Mein.

She hands off her horse.  She looks up at me, and verbally runs through all the previous dismounting scenarios.  I don’t even need to open my mouth.  She shoots them all down for the same reasons.

“Wow. You really ARE stuck.”

“Chinese?”, I say, hopefully.

“Hold on!’ she says.

She grabs the mounting block and plops it next to Tiny beneath the stirrup.  Tiny shifts uneasily.  He could care less about the mounting block.

Dang it.  I forgot his supernatural mind reading power.  There is a giant white take out pail in a bubble over his head.  He’s with the sleepover program.

I get off with the help of copious engineering calculations and verbal commands.  It’s a lot like getting the movers to place your sofa.  “No.  A little more to the left…NO, don’t put your foot down yet.  I think I like it better over there…Wait!  That didn’t work either, a little more to the right…”

Terra Firma never felt so good and so disappointing at the same time.  Big Pain.  Add 1 more week back into the Rider Layup Calculator.

(Actually, 4 days did the trick.  On and off Hudson, no problem.  I’m a terrible patient.  I don’t even listen to myself.)


8 thoughts on “The Rider Rehab Calculator

  1. lizgoldsmith

    I’d forgotten how much it hurt to dismount with broken ribs . . . now I remember!

    When I was recovering from my rib injury I decided to go on a hack with a friend. That would have been fine except for two things: 1st, Freedom wouldn’t walk, under any circumstanced. I had a choice: jig or canter in place. I chose canter. 2nd, we got lost. I was anticipating an hour. We got lost. THe one hour ride turned into three.

    My ribs KILLED me after that ride.

    Now it’s my rotator cuff. It hurts. I know I shouldn’t ride. But then again I shouldn’t have done the sleep over at the Science Museum either. Sleeping on the floor is not good for rotator cuff injuries. Riding must be better for them than that. After all, that’s why Aleve was invented, right?

    Stay safe!

  2. goamwat

    That cracked me up. No pun intended.

    I’m a firm believer that some combination of bag balm, linament, vet wrap, and tylenol can cure most ills.

    Congrats on getting back in the saddle!

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Ads for Absorbine Jr. used to totally crack me up. An ad for AJ came on in front of a non-horsey friend. I tried to control myself, which we all know makes it SO much worse. He said “What’s wrong with Absorbine Jr.?”. Of course I replied, “I use Absorbine Senior.” Which sent me into further fits of laughter, since I knew he’d have no clue what it was.

      I had to get the bottle out of the bathroom to prove it existed. He was horrified. “You mean I’m using HORSE liniment??”

      Pretty much!

      BTW, Sore No More is the bomb.

  3. AareneX

    I have told my family — and I’m not kidding — that I can treat most of my injuries myself, and for serious injuries I will just call Dr. Jenn or Dr. Foss (the vets).

    Most of them roll their eyes.

    My spouse doesn’t. He knows I’m serious.

    Vitamin I(squared), gal. (um, Ice and Ibuprofen).

  4. Michelle

    Ha ha! Well, I’m glad you’re back in the saddle. And I’m really impressed with your superpower healing abilities! Week 4 + 1/7 and you’re already back on?! You must eat your Wheaties, girl!


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