A Break In Stride

By Terry Golson

I am always mindful that horses have the potential to hurt their handlers. There are horses who are obviously dangerous, who threaten and use their bodies to inflict harm. But most aren’t like that. Most are amenable and cooperative beings. Still, horses are big, and they can move quickly and with little warning. Even the calmest horse can lift a leg to stomp a fly, and stomp on you instead. Even the boldest horse can take flight in fear and knock you over if you’re in their path. On Tuesday I was working with a client and her sweetheart of a Quarter Horse. She was riding. I was walking alongside. He has a history of spooking, which is something we have been working on. I noticed him get tense, then the next second he spooked sideways. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to change where I was or what I was doing. He ran over my foot. Luckily, he isn’t shod, and I always wear sturdy boots. Still. It hurt. I went to the emergency room.

X-rays clearly showed a broken bone.


When I got home, Scooter immediately set to work. He made sure that I stayed quietly on the couch while I wore a temporary cast and iced the swollen foot.


On Wednesday I saw the orthopedist who gave me the good news that the break won’t require surgery. It will, however, require that I wear a cast for about a month (or more.) We discussed that I would like to remain active, and that that entailed being at stables. The doctor fit me with a plastic walking cast, so that I could (in the doctor’s words) “wash the horse caca off of it.” The doctor also said, “I know nothing about horses but I can’t see why you can’t ride with the cast on.” I really like this doctor.

At this point, I’m at the ice, elevation and rest phase of recovery, not the foolhardy ride with a broken foot stage. (Although I’m sure I’ll get there!) I’m not even driving my truck yet, which makes me feel quite sensible! This morning, Steve drove me to the barn.

Horses are very aware of movement and changes to the norm. Tonka looked alarmed when he saw me coming in my lurching way, and he snorted at the crutches.


I let him sniff them, and for that Tonka got a carrot. Tonka changed his opinion of the crutches. Now they might mean treats!


Steve led Tonka out to the grazing field, and I hobbled along near them. Tonka kept eyeballing me, as this outing was highly irregular for so many reasons. I spoke reassuringly to my horse, and he responded to my normal voice by relaxing his posture.


My hands were full with the crutches so Steve held the lead line. At one point, there was a noise in the field, and Tonka spooked. He didn’t land on either of us. That’s the way it usually is.


I’m not a patient patient. How do you keep yourself from overdoing it when you’re laid up?

18 thoughts on “A Break In Stride

  • Stephanie

    Hi Terry…sorry this happened. I just want to caution you about the boot. I wore one and threw out my back and my hips because the boot causes one side to be higher than the other. Just be careful!

  • Gin

    I hope someone can help you by telling you how to be a patient patient, I sure can’t. I’ve had a lot of broken bones and two concussions, not all horse related, and I had a doctor who had horses so he told me what he thought I could do, not realizing a yellow caution light to me is a green light, and I never took proper care during recovery and always paid for it. So, if you want my advice, stay off of Tonka until you are out of the cast, it’s only a month. The “or more” might be if you don’t be careful. Good luck. And it REALLY wasn’t worth listening to my husband always telling me I should have had better sense!

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I might not listen to Steve, but I am grateful that he’s taking full care of the goats and chickens. I can only imagine what fun the goats would have with the cast and the crutches if I had to go out there to feed and clean up after them!

    • Trina Picardi

      Gin, Great advice. I have a pending day procedure but I’m being told no riding for two weeks. I love your comment that “a yellow caution light to me is a green light”. When you are so used to doing everything, taking care of house, horse, kids, etc its hard to ask for help or be a patient patient. I will try to heed your advice. Terry, my dear friend, will keep me honest too….as I will her.

  • Emily

    I don’t.
    That’s an exaggeration, but I listen to my body, not the docs.
    Bones will heal, though not as well post 50, as before.
    Mostly I direct my caution to not being reinjured or worse injured while recovering, but I try to continue as usual….as much as possible.

  • Tracy

    I would tell myself that not allowing proper healing of backs, heads (skulls) and feet can make you live with pain for the rest of your life. Break a finger and remove splints too early and you might have trouble lifting or carrying certain things in certain positions. Unwire a jaw too soon and you may forever have to eat softer foods. But let a foot bone heal poorly or not allow a back to heal properly, and chronic pain can literally sideline you from life. I tell myself to have a little respect for my body and let it do its work. And I remind myself to be grateful at its healing abilities. And then I sit my ass down! 🙂

  • Connie Moreau

    I hope all will be well soon, take care. I was going to let you know about our son’t mull. I had sent you an e-mail last fall about how to trailer a mule who didn’t want to load…you gave good advice! Our son fed her in the trailer all winter, she started to go in on her own just to eat. He also borrowed another trailer to practice loading her in. She started to load easily into the new trailer.. no wildness at all. In June they started to load her into her trailer with no problem, she didn’t want to stay, but they didn’t force her into anything…In August our son went out, haltered her led her to the trailer and she walked right in!!! He did alot of treats and worked with her alot…it turned out wonderful! Thank you for the blogs on trailering a horse they were helpful also. At this moment they are up in the mountains hunting for elk…you are the best Terry, get better soon, Sincerely, Connie

    • Terry Golson Post author

      What a wonderful report! Your son deserves all of the accolades for having the patience and taking the time to develop a deeply trusting relationship with his mule. It will carry over to their wilderness trips.

  • Debra Benanti

    I don’t know how to relax.. so I wasn’t a good patient when I had broken my wrist from falling wrong. But, the pain (from the surgery) was enough to keep me home with pain killers. Hoping for a speedy recovery for you.

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