I tend not to post when my life is fraught. This is against the general tendency of the confessional blogger, so yeah, I can understand why I really don’t have a huge readership, but I’d rather not exploit my own nature, you know?

But radio silence can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to break through, and that’s not healthy either. So here’s what happened in October.

I stopped riding. I stopped rather abruptly, actually, first being lofted violently into the air and then slamming into the dirt of the ring so hard it was like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. I thought I left a Patrice-shaped impact crater.

Yes, I got bucked off by Grey Gus on October 3, and I haven’t been back in the saddle since. A trip to the ER determined no concussion and no breaks, but it was three weeks before I was back to normal.

I know. I’m the first one to say, “back into the saddle!” But I can truthfully say that it’s not fear that’s keeping my butt out of the saddle, but pragmatism.

I got lucky. Very lucky. I’m in my 50s. Bone loss is already going on, because that’s the nature of being a human female. I walked (hobbled) away from a wreck that the next time could break my back, my ribs, or my neck. So while I’m mourning this accident that has grounded me, I also know that I was extraordinarily fortunate, and the right move is to walk away from a sport I love.

I also had to take a hard look at what has been going on with me and Gus. Over the past months, he’s become less stable and more unpredictable. I’d already stopped riding him on the trails as he had become nervous and anxious, leading to attempts to bolt and buck me off. This made me more anxious with him, creating a feedback loop that riders are very familiar with.

So another truth I came face to face with — whatever I am doing has caused a change in Gus, making him too dangerous for me to ride. He had become disrespectful of my space as well, so for instance, it has become unsafe for me to lunge him in the round pen.

I happen to be a competent rider, but I am not a well-rounded trainer, and if I am causing Gus’s behavior issues, I need to stop at once. Gus bucking me off was not, as characterized by someone, a “murder move” but a very loud communication from a horse who was not being listened to.

I got lucky. This could have happened out on the trails.

So what now? Well, I will eventually get back on a horse, but I will make sure that is a quiet, very calm horse. I will go back to a beginner phase, which is fine. I don’t need to go cantering out on the trails, or jumping fences anymore. I will still go out and visit with Gus and make sure he’s loved and brushed and tended to. Horses will still be in my life.

So that was my October. I’ve also been writing, and I will have some updates on story sales for next time (I hope sooner than six weeks!). If you want to keep up with the stories that I’ve been reading and been talking up, visit my pinned page with the 2015 stories that have blown me away this year.

What’s been happening with you?


Tex Thompson · November 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm

Oh, Patrice, that is so scary – I’m so glad it wasn’t any worse! “Back in the saddle” is all well and good, but not at the price of “back in a spinal brace”!

Patrice Sarath · November 9, 2015 at 9:15 am

Yeah, that was my thinking too. Anyway, I was just visiting Gus the other day, and I’ll go and see him this weekend, and while I won’t be riding, I’ll at least get to be around horses. That won’t ever change.

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