Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Doggone It

All right. I reckon I owe you all an update. (Many thanks for the concern of those who wrote to make sure I'm not in a coma somewhere.)

Absence of life support notwithstanding, this hasn't been my best-ever week. Since the Border Collie incident that resulted in my unscheduled -- and painful -- dismount from Consolation, I've run a gamut of emotions ranging from frustration to gratitude to resignation. I guess I'm still running, if truth be told.

Last Friday, my physical therapist informed me that my right hamstring suffered "massive soft tissue damage" in the form of "extensive micro-tearing throughout the semimembranosis muscle" as a result of blunt force trauma. Said blunt force also delivered a bone contusion to my knee, but the hamstring damage is considerably more distressing. If properly rehabilitated, however, it should heal completely. That's the good news.

The bad news is that I'm looking at about 6 weeks to return to full use for normal, daily activity and light workouts. Nine weeks or more for my preferred style of working out, which is to say, intense. At that point, I'm guessing I'll be able to ride safely.

Aside: Have you ever noticed how many people assume that you should be able to ride shortly after an injury, because obviously riding isn't athletic. All you have to do is sit there and let the horse do the work! I like to smile agreeably at these people and say, "Oh yes. Riding is a lot like skiing...you know, where the hill does all the work."

Anyway, though I plan to beat my PT's healing-time estimates through a combined approach of excellent nutrition, appropriate exercise, and (should I tell you this?) positive visualization, it's clear that I won't be riding anytime soon. By the time I get at least three months' conditioning on Consolation, the endurance season will be nearly over. If you've been reading The Barb Wire for any length of time, you understand that this is a heavy blow.

Meanwhile, what's to be done about the dog? Or, more specifically, about its irresponsible owner?

Many of you commented that I ought to file a report with Animal Control. Don't worry. I did. Last week, a county animal control officer served "dog at large" charges to the Border Collie's owner. Unfortunately, although the dog's behavior meets our county ordinance's definition of "vicious," it doesn't meet the supersceding state definition, which requires that a dog actually bite someone before it is considered vicious. The upshot is that the worst that can happen to the owner, if he's found guilty on this "dog at large" charge plus two more, is that he'll be fined $100 or less. The dog still won't have to be contained on his property.

Several individuals, including myself, have expressed hope that the owner will demonstrate a sense of responsibility and offer to cover my medical bills and the cost of a replacement helmet. Better yet, he might even build a fence or otherwise contain his dog!

Yeah. Don't count on it. The ACO observed that although the gentleman admitted ownership of the dog, he refused to acknowledge the chasing incident or the dog's frequent off-property roaming. And he wasn't friendly about it. At all.

So, if I want to pursue compensation, I'll have to file civil suit. Idaho small claims court looks like the most reasonable route, should I choose to take it. But is it worth my effort? I've no chance of a ruling that would require the dog to be controlled. The sum of money involved isn't substantial. (Yet.) What's much, much more substantial the loss of most or all of my 2009 endurance and training season. Does that count as pain and suffering? Legally, I doubt it...but emotionally? Yes. It does.

And yes, I'm still running that gamut. But I'll get through. I know what's at the end, even if I'm not there yet: Commitment. Setbacks or no, I'll keep climbing. Always have. Always will.

Longfellow said it best. (So well, in fact, that he named my farm.)

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
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horseideology said...

So glad you are not in a coma :)yuck on the bad news.

RE: the dog. Videotaping of said dog roaming off property; letters of any neighbors who are willing to support story that dog is constantly off property; letter from your attorney outlining bills that dog owner will be liable for (an attorney letter runs $50 to $100); capture of said dog and taken to kennel found as a "stray" and let owner bail out if he even bothers to show up - supports your story that dog is off property; and civil court. Because you also have work time that you will be down as well as deductibles and rehab.

Just me, but I would pursue. Even if you can pay for it all can you do so the next time the dog does this? Definitely the dog must go.

Susan Catt said...


This has been a heart breaking year for you. I feel so badly that you have had to face this year as it has unfolded. You are a strong gal, and I am confident that we'll see a much stronger competitor next year.

Also Consolation will be a year older and wiser, and more able to shoulder the partnership. My way of thinking is the Creator wanted you to slow down, just a little. Give this mare a chance to mature into her new role, and let Aaruba heal.

Dont forget your other blogs... some of us truly miss your recipes, yours and Travis's doings on the farm, and research of the long ride.

HUGS! Onward Marching Soldieress


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Darn. I was hoping to read more positive news. But like you said, it could have been so much worse.

I just wish I had your positive attitude. I'm so fed up with being patient in my own healing. It's been 4 months since my own fall and subsequent surgery...and just last week my horse caused me to be reinjured. gah!
Now I feel like I've took two junps backwards as I can't even walk again. I'm so darn frustrated I can't even talk about it most of the time, because I'm grouchy and weepy. I feel like such a failure. I want to be independant, strong, and doing what I love again.

But that dream is still months away. The summer will be over by then. I would have been better off if I had just broken my leg instead of tore ligaments. As you understand, those soft tissue injuries take so much longer to heal.

Just know that I'm thinking of you, and pulling for you. I have a strong feeling that your positive attitude and healing healthy visualizations will help you reach your goals fast, my friend.

Hang in there.

Shana said...

Glad to hear you're on the mend, slow though it may be (I can relate!)

I agree with horseideology, do you have any friends who are lawyers who would be willing to just write a letter on your behalf on their stationary? Might be just the nudge this owner needs to contain his vicious dog.

Life at Star's Rest said...

I'm glad to know you are still among us and will eventually be back to normal. It really has been a hard year for you with lots of loss and set backs; but the little I know of you through your blog, you will overcome all of this.

As to visualization, I won't laugh! I spent two and a half months doing visualization before my last surgery and the results shocked everyone, especially my surgeon. So if you feel comfortable with it, share what you are visualizing and we can help! Carmon

Life at Star's Rest said...

PS - my husband, who is a skier, had a good laugh at your comparison! Carmon

ellescee said...


I know (kind of) how you feel--last summer in mid-april I had a horse incident (involving a certain now-sold equine) that put me in the ER and set me back years in confidence and plans for the coming endurance season. However, after running the gamut of emotions you describe, I put everything up to the mysterious universe and figured things would work out as they should. I'd say they worked out quite well, considering.

Keep your chin up--I'm hoping to see you on Saturday! I'll be the one looking dog-tired and giddy on the big brown horse!


Jane said...

Terrible news...somewhat mitigated by it could have been worse...still terrible, painful physically and emotionally. Wish you didn't have to go through that.

I echo horseideology's plan if it doesn't create more emotional trauma for you. Come from long line of police officers and court system.
A huge percentage of all claims filed in small claims court (in CA, at least) are ruled in favor of the person bringing suit.

It's such a pain in the rear to bring suit, proof, and have everything lined up, that the judge is automatically listening closely, and inclined to believe your side of the story.

whatever you decide, I wish you the best in your healing, and comfort in your disappointment.

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

HorseI and Shana -- As it happens, I do have an attorney friend. We've talked. :)

Susan -- Thanks for the encouragement. I posted over on Nightlife today, just for you. :)

Lisa -- You're so right about soft tissue injuries! Sorry you're still struggling with yours. :( You have it worse than I, to be sure!

Carmon -- What an intersting idea. I'm visualizing the action of antioxidents clearing out damaged cells, blood flow and repair, knitting of muscle, etc. Not all scientific, but that's not the magic if it, is it? :)

Elly -- Hope to see you, and best of luck on Saturday whether I see you or not. :)

Jane -- Thanks so much. It might be worth the nuisence...

LizGoldsmith, EquineInk said...

So sorry to learn the extent of your injuries and your recovery time. It sounds both painful and frustrating. I've managed to miss a good part of the spring hunting season due to family obligations and missing shoes . . . I think it takes another equestrian to understand how much it hurts to miss what you've trained for over so many months. One of my friends has told me I"m being a good sport but she hasn't seen my tears of frustration over it!

We have no leash laws in our town and had to deal with a dog that literally chased me and my then four year old son into our house. It was growling and had it's teeth bared. My local police force basically told me that until it bit someone (!) they couldn't do anything.

Personally, I think the dog needs to be relocated. I've seriously considered it for our current next door dog which barks for up to an hour at a time. Our neighbors think the dog is "sensitive" and won't stop it from barking. But at least it's not vicious.

enlightenedhorsemanship.net said...


I understand your conundrum. I face the same issue, twice over. I can't talk about it here, but if I were to choose to defend myself, I could use the courts. I wonder if vindication and reparation are what we need. Personally, I don't have the juice to pursue it now on either front. I'm old and gray, and the strength to fight the good fight is gone. You are young and passionate and may have a great deal to gain by pressing a civil suit.

Whatever you decide, please keep us in the loop.

enlightenedhorsemanship.net said...

Oh and I forgot to say that horseideology is absolutely right. Documentation is everything. Even if you don't use it this time, it will come in handy heaven forbid there is a next time, or if someone else needs your assistance.