Karen's mishap

How to ruin a perfectly good day……………

Saturday 22nd January, what a perfect summer's day, just great for a ride in the forest, my absolutely favourite thing to do. My friend Sharon from work had just been up and I'd given all her family a ride on Badger, on the lead around the paddock and I was then ready for my ride with neighbour Alan. He was riding Badger and I was riding Daghar. We set off to look for some steers first that may have disappeared into one of the bush paddocks at the back of our properties, before heading off for our normal ride in the Woodhill forest.
The horse were feeling fresh but were generally behaving themselves, Badger being his usual bull dozer self, but Alan had him in complete control. We were heading down towards Old Telephone track and decided to try a few tracks that Alan hadn't been on and I hadn't been on for a few years. We eventually came out onto a road which lead us down towards the beach and a lovely track that runs parallel to the beach, and would end up meeting Old Telephone track again. This is a lovely track for cantering along, soft sand, little undulating hills and corners and generally lot's of fun, I had been along here many a time with the endurance club and friends in casual rides. Alan had just yelled out to me how fabulous this was and I agreed, we were in heaven! So it was much to my surprise that Daghar suddenly came crashing down around me, a lot of people know Daghar is temperamental and yes I have fallen off when he has been silly, but he is also extremely sure footed and well balanced. So how on earth could we be suddenly cantering along so calmly one minute and then nose diving the next? Before I had time to answer that question, I was thrown off to one side, landing in the sand, which would have been fine except Daghar had flipped over in the same direction, landing on my left hip! It was all so quick, he was up before I knew it and as I had heard a loud crack I was convinced Daghar had broken his leg, I wasn't to realize until later that it was me who was broken. Alan jumped off Badger and tried to convince me to stay down, me being me insisted on getting up and trying to get back on to ride home. It was quite painful to stand but when I realised I couldn't move my left leg sideways or anywhere I gave that idea up and lay back down. I couldn't believe how good the horse were being at this stage, I'm sure they knew I was hurt, they were just standing there, didn't move an inch, just focussed on me.
Alan showed me the tree root which had tripped Daghar, it was like a rope across the path and wrapped around his front leg, he didn't stand a chance, it was like a trip wire.
As it was obvious I wasn't going anywhere in a hurry, I gave Alan my mobile phone, but we couldn't get a signal under the trees, so he had to leave me and ride until he could get a signal and phone for help. He was gone around 45 minutes I think; I lay there thinking I'm so glad I lived in New Zealand where we don't have bears or lions in our forests. I heard them returning before I saw them, Badgers thundering hooves and a car in tow. Alan had returned with his wife Jackie, another neighbour Dave plus another gentleman and an ambulance. The ambulance officer had also organised the Westpac rescue helicopter, I could hear it above and they were trying to see if they could winch me out but there were too many trees above. I think they thought I might have suffered spinal injuries.
The ambulance couldn't get down the track, so I was put onto a stetcher and carefully lifted onto the back of Dave's 4wd-flatdeck truck. It was a bumpy ride down the track and by this time shock had set in and I was freezing cold, every time I shivered I felt sore. Someone put a neck brace on me and I was given some intravenous painkillers.
The helicopter landed in the smallest of clearings and I was whisked away to Auckland hospital. I couldn't believe the attention I was receiving and I felt completely safe. I was wheeled straight in to the emergency room where I was connected to all these machines, constantly taking my heartbeat and blood pressure. After they x-rayed me they found I had broken my pelvis plus fractured my sacrum. They realised I didn't have back or neck injuries and the brace was taken off. I was transferred to a ward, thankfully having my own room for a few days. These were the worst days as I wasn't allowed to move, had to just lie flat in bed, and in any case every time I did move it was excruciatingly painful. The doctors recommended surgery to pin my bones back together; it was either that or lie flat on my back for at least 6 weeks for the bones to heal themselves. So surgery it was, I couldn't wait to be able to at least sit up!
The operation went well and within 2 days I was up on crutches and now I'm back home going through the rest of the recovery process. I don't know how long it will take, but I'll get there.
I've been to see the horses and they are OK. I couldn't possibly think of giving up riding, I love my horses and am thankful that Daghar wasn't hurt. I don't blame him either, it was a freak accident.
One thing that I will always remember is how so many people came to my aid when I needed it. It is extremely heart warming. Thanks to everyone who helped me, and to Alan and Jackie for taking care of the horses whilst I was in hospital.
Thanks also to Chris, my partner who has been extremely patient and caring through the whole ordeal.
For all of you who ride, and especially in the forest, make sure you have a phone with you, wear a helmet and go safely.

Karen Legg

PS the Westpac rescue helicopter receives no government funding, so next time they ask for a donation think of how they helped me and how it could be you! (Though I sincerely hope not) A documentary is being made on my experience plus others who have been rescued by the Westpac helicopter and will be shown on TV2 sometime later this year.


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