Closing my fingers on the reins has never been a huge issue for me, especially not over fences. As a self-recognized “holder” I am more likely to have a vice grip on the reins instead of open fingers. So when I found myself in the emergency room with what I thought was a dislocated pinky after missing a distance, I was a little shocked.
Rewind to a few hours before and I am at BCET practice on Tahoe, one of my personal favorites of Becker’s school horses. After finishing a no stirrup flat session and a warm up course with no hands, I am thinking that finishing up with a plain ol’ regular course is going to be easy-peasy. Well, I must have jinxed myself.
Becker has an indoor that is MUCH smaller than our gigantic outdoor, so jumping courses inside is a big transition from outside. The fences come up faster, the turns are right there once you’ve landed from your fence, and I had listened to our coach tell everyone to go deep into the corners about a thousand and one times. So what did I do? Try to go deep in the corner by using an opening rein to prevent the usual land-and-motorcycle turn. Unfortunately, this worked better than I expected and upon landing we took a sharp turn to the right leaving me hanging off Tahoe’s neck like a spider monkey. He halted, I slid down, and we dubbed it a “theatrical emergency dismount”.
Round two over the third to last fence in my course was better and worse than the first time. I scratched the idea of an opening rein after the previous attempt and planned to push him over upon landing with as much inside leg as I could. Too bad we didn’t get that far. We took a launcher from a long spot causing me to get left behind and then thrown forward. In an attempt to not go flying forward over Tahoe’s head, I pushed my knuckles into his neck to balance myself. Unfortunately, my pinky got a little left out. I heard a lovely POP, got the corner of the ring, and looked down at my finger to see the top half of it bent…in the wrong direction. I peeled my glove off and convinced myself that it couldn’t be broken and that it was only a dislocation.
Fast forward back to the emergency room. Thankfully, our captain was there to drive me to the hospital, my coach was close behind us, and my boyfriend met us there, so I was given little chance to think about the fact that my finger was contorted. They gave me ice, took a few x-rays, and told me they would be back in a minute. As I was mentally preparing myself for the pain of relocating my pinky finger, the nurse comes in with a split and some tape. I immediately blurted out “IT’S NOT DISLOCATED?!” (Seriously, she must have thought I was delusional or something.) Part of me wanted to hug this lady for not having to pop that sucker back into place, and part of me was confused because how could it not be dislocated when it was BENT IN THE WRONG DIRECTION?! Finally the doctor comes in and tells me the verdict. Good news? It’s not dislocated. Bad news? Its fractured.
So here I am. Senior year, my last year of IHSA and BCET. With a most-likely-broken pinky. A pinky that could potentially take me out of this semester’s IHSA shows and out of the running to qualify for regional finals. All I can do now is cross my non-broken fingers that the doctor was wrong. (Though the swelling and purple color of it right now is not so convincing.) While I can’t technically ride under Becker in lessons or shows until I am cleared by a doctor, I can still ride my own horse. So this girl will be not be following doctors orders and will be riding her horse tomorrow and no one is going to stop her. What can I say? I’m a rebel. And NOTHING is going to keep me off a horse for very long, let alone a tiny little pinky fracture.
So folks, the moral of the story is this. CLOSE YOUR FINGERS!