The Last of my Musings…for Now

| January 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

On October 4, 2022, I fell from my cantering lesson horse, Dolly.  It was totally my fault; I was concentrating on giving her a jab with my right leg (which she did not need),when she saw something terrifying—a man with an enormous, coiled hose.   As I had my right leg in the air off her right side, she leapt to the left.  I flew off and landed like an over-stuffed suitcase, splat on the ground.  Bless Dolly’s heart.  She came right to me and graciously allowed me to hang onto one of her short little legs to get to my feet. 

My trainer, Linda, came running over.  The three of us decided that to calm down, Dolly and I should walk around the stable together.  We wandered through various aisles of outdoor pens greeting humans and animals we knew.  Dolly, as always, opened gates for me.  After riding her for about ten minutes, we returned to my special mounting block which is tall enough to accommodate my aged joints.  Being naturally lazy, I sit on the mounting block to loosen the left side of Dolly’s girth and raise her left stirrup, keeping it from flapping when she walks.  For months I have tried to convince Dolly to turn 180 degrees so that I can repeat this process on the right side.  Dolly has no patience with laziness and insists I should get down, walk around her, and then repeat the process.  However, this day she spun around giving me access to her right side from a seated position without my saying a word.  I should have known I was in trouble. 

Horses are very sensitive to what is going on around them; they are prey animals; to survive, they need to detect the strength or weakness of creatures around them.  Not only did she not make me walk around her, but she also placed her face firmly against my lower back supporting and pushing me the long distance back to the grooming and saddling area.  This is something she only does if I am in bad shape… dehydrated from riding in Lakeside’s heat, for example.  Otherwise, she would stick her nose in my armpit, jerk her head up as if to say, “Old woman, you’re just lazy.  You are more than capable of walking under your own steam.”

I had no idea that I was going to be more or less homebound for three months, as if it were a COVID-19 incarceration with a few exceptions: the only good one was not needing to wear a mask unless at a medical facility.

It turned out that after six hours in the emergency room, an X-ray showed I was bruised; use a walker.  With time I would be fine.  However, after a month, I was still in pain.  A CT scan gave me a new diagnosis: a fracture in the right anterior acetabulum and a fracture in the interior pubic ramus, both being right next to the head of my femur which is part of my fake hip.  I was to stay off that leg and follow up with my orthopedist.  Orthopedics was very efficient; many X-rays later, I learned that the breaks had already begun healing and that probably I could ride again in January. 

Due to my inability to walk, I did not see Dolly for two and a half weeks.   I arrived with my husband, a walker, carrots, and an apple.  Dolly ate her treats, turned away from me and proceeded to fawn over my husband whose existence she had never before acknowledged.  She blew in his ear and nuzzled him, lipped his hair, all the while sneaking sidewise glances to make sure I noticed.  Linda, Dolly’s owner laughed.  Apparently, this is typical Dolly behavior when someone she cares about abandons her.  There was no way to   explain that I had a legitimate reason to leave her.  I saw her twice more before she left forever for her new home in Massachusetts.  Each time she was a bit warmer.  I miss her and her owner so much.

My fractures healed seamlessly and well.  However, two months of barely moving have left me quite out of shape.  I no sooner returned to the gym to get back into shape so I could ride again when I tested positive for Covid.  Since I don’t feel sick, my work is cut out for me.  I will use our home equipment and hope that by January, my new trainer will have found me a new lesson horse, and I will be back in the saddle.

I have been writing this column since Spring of 1999 when the Mission Hills Garden Club was founded.  I was one of the founding mothers.  Now it is time to hand my pen to someone else.  I am not saying I’ll never write another column, but I will only write when I am inspired.  I do want to thank Patty Ducey-Brooks for printing my column, and those who either read my column or are inspired to join the Garden Club as a result of the column.  Writing this column for over two decades actually made me like to garden.  I never thought I would.  Gardening, dressage videos, and reading got me through the COVID incarceration.  The Garden Club has also introduced me to some of my very closest friends.

A view of Dolly from the rider’s perspective.


Category: Animals, Entertainment, Life Style, Local News

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.