The good news is that I'm not paralyzed, my collarbone and shoulder are intact, and I can still Vogue with both hands just fine. If I wanted to. Probably.
The bad news is that I now have a thorough understanding of the definition of a mutton-withered horse and the associated perils of attempting to ride one with an ill-fitting saddle.
The long version (because it's Monday. And I suspect you have little else to do):
My brother and June were in town and she fell in love on her previous (and first) horseback ride so I jumped at the chance to set up a trail ride adventure for the four of us during their weekend visit. I called all over gods green earth (read: greater DC area) all week in order to find a place that would allow us to cantor and run, as opposed to just moseying and trotting. Wanted J to have the unbeatable experience of potentially galloping atop a horse, and simultaneously showing off some of the beautiful areas of West Virginia.
I spoke to the owner of Elk Mountain Trails on three separate occasions since last Sunday. Her name is Barbara. She was very nice. We were on the phone for like 10-15 min a pop. Barbara instilled great confidence in me that her Elk Mountain Trails were exactly what we were seeking. We chatted about moving (since she was in the middle of doing so), the weather, and she reiterated frequently that we'd be able to cantor and run on the "hour and a half" trail ride. Accordingly, we planned nearly the entire weekend around this event (which necessitated a rental car) and ended up schlepping all the way out to Harpers Ferry, West Virgin-Eye-Aye, and on down the panhandle to Knoxville, MD. Upon checking in at Elk Mountain Trails in Knoxville, MD, we were told by some chick in a staff shirt to discuss running/trotting with the trail leader, as "the decision would be up to him". We were curious about the discrepancy between what she was saying and what Barbara had repeatedly told me, but we optimistically ventured onward. Shortly (actually, not so shortly, as it took over 45 min to saddle up and move out the staggering and already yawning group of 12) we found ourselves on a nose-to-butt, nose-to-butt trail ride through dense woods where the ringleader forced forward progress to a complete halt literally every five seconds. Literally.
Once we were on the trail, we spoke to the leader and were told that they "never, ever, run or cantor the horses". Turns out, this was to be the first and last accurate thing they'd say; the fastest I went was from horse to ground.
Turns out, the chick who saddled me up was distracted by a random friend of hers who appeared as she was adjusting the saddle of my horse (Rusty) and therefore couldn't be bothered to complete her task with accuracy. So, about 10 min in to the very, very, very, slow ride, Rusty's saddle came off, with me atop it. I remember leaning in with both arms and grabbing Rusty's neck, to no avail. I then made the mid-air decision to not land on my head. Wasn't sure immediately what I did land on, but despite my best efforts I still smashed my head against a rock pretty good. A few minutes later it became clear that I may have broken my arm, too. Oh so that's what I landed on!
Meanwhile, while I was laying there on the ground, my brother jumped off of his horse and ran over to be by my side, B was stunned and calling out, yet none of the four employees (who clearly witnessed the entire scene) did or said a thing. NOT A THING to help. And at no point during the remaining 65 min of trail riding did any employee mention my fall. Nor did they inquire as to my concussiveness during the 15 minutes we hung around onscene after the ride ended. With over 90 minutes of close-contact opportunity, no one who worked there so much as asked me if I was okay. In fact, the only employee who spoke to me was the same stupid chick who messed up my saddle in the first place, and what she said, while I was still wiping rocks and dirt out of my hair, was that the saddle "would never fit this horse correctly", "it was sure to come off again", but "don't worry, this is the last hill" and then asked that I "hop back on".
There were children present so I did not tell her exactly what I thought of this notion.
Oh and P.S.? It was so not the last hill. It was merely the first of dozens of hills.
I mean, how much horseshit was I expected to swallow?
I have been on a horse literally hundreds of times and never had anything like this happen. When brother went to talk to the manager, after the torment/ride finally ended (40 minutes earlier than they said it would, another lie, by the way, but we were all fine with that) they said it was my fault for being an inexperienced rider at which point my brother went gosh dern apeshit on them. That part was quite awesome.
Yeah, so, my arm may not look purty, but I am very thankful that a) I am not paralyzed and b) my brother is a loud-mouthed articulate --surprisingly, even when ragingly angry-- "attorney".
The employees of Elk Mountain Trails, in Knoxville Maryland (MD) not only made no attempt to rescue me/insure I was saddled correctly OR perform first aid, but knew in advance that the horse was mutton-withered (meaning a regular saddle would never fit properly OR STAY ON THE HORSE) and made no attempt to inform me of this (or, god forbid, provide me, a paying customer, with a ridable horse in a properly fitting saddle) even though I explicitly asked if there was anything about the horse that I should know. Questioning my level of experience after the fact was bullshit; even if it was my first time on a horse, they did not react appropriately (or at all for that matter)! To add insult to injury, our attorney had to do a good deal of fancy talking to get our money back.
The staff at Elk Mountain Trails was highly negligent, downright disrespectful, and blatantly uncaring. I'm not sure if this is their usual MO, but I won't be going back to find out.
If it turns out that I have a fracture (which I suspect to be the case, since my arm hurts a great deal more than my foot ever did, and that was broken. Right. From walking.) I'm going to have to sue. Which will probably be a pain in the ass considerably larger than the footlong bruise that appears there right now.
Oh, I'm sure we will all one day look back on this and laugh, much as I/we now do regarding the breaking of my foot by walking (not falling. Walking. That's right. Walking.) but for now, laughing would involve muscles that are just way too akimbo to engage.