A conversation with friends recently turned to the subject of broken bones.

As we shared tall tales of aches and breaks complete with gory details, I realised most of my tales of busted limbs end with "of course, it wasn't the horse's fault..."

Of course it wasn't. Animals have accidents too, you know. I've watched my cat fall off the back of the couch, my dogs try to sniff the ground while running and trip over their own noses and the chickens... well there was the one that fell in the water trough but mostly chooks don't have accidents, they are way too calculating.

My last broken bone experience was more the fault of some cows than of the horse I was riding.


I'd set off for a ride round some quiet country roads on an equally quiet Sunday afternoon and all went as well as could be expected when riding a horse who was afraid of road markings, didn't like walking in long grass and was highly suspicious of roadside letterboxes.

We'd made good progress dodging tethered goats on the side of the road, at least one ravening stray dog, some little kids on bikes and a bit of traffic, no problem.

Time for a brisk trot, I thought, and set off at trot speed along the verge beside a shady shelterbelt.

That's when the cows spotted us.

The cows were behind the shelterbelt and they got all over excited about the strange animal on the roadside and came galloping up to peer through the trees at us.

The sound of galloping hooves was bad enough, the rustling in the branches was worse not to mention the shadowy forms amongst the foliage, but the heavy breathing of 20-or-so cattlebeasts was all too much for my poor mare and she shied away.

Sideways we went, on to the edge of the tarseal and, having picked a particularly shiny patch of tarseal to land on, my horse lost all traction.

Her hooves shot out from under her and we fell on to the road with a resounding thud.


As I lay counting my limbs the horse leaped back to her feet, pretended nothing had happened (we've all been there - that accidental trip up on the footpath when you take a quick look round to check no one saw you...) and continued trotting down the side of the road.

Counting my limbs revealed they were all still present but my right arm was feeling less than wonderful.

I looked for the horse. It was still trotting down the road.

That and the fact I was in the middle of the road made me think I had better stop lying around and do something. So I tried to stand up. It was a bad idea.

It seemed that my ribs were in agreement with my right arm. They didn't feel fabulous either so I sat back down.

The horse was still trotting, getting smaller as she faded into the distance.

With my better-feeling arm I fished out my mobile phone and rang my husband. He didn't pick up.

While I pondered my next move the horse got to a bend in the road and trotted round the corner out of sight.

About then a nice couple in a car drove up and stopped to see what I was doing. I explained the situation and asked if they could please go and find my horse and shove her into the nearest paddock, while I phoned for an ambulance.

Off they went, while I rang emergency services and tried to explain where I was.
"In the middle of the road," I told them and gave them the name of the road I was in the middle of.

"Do you have a road number?" asked the helpful call taker.
"No," I told him, "I'm sitting on the road."
"Can you see any road numbers?" he asked.
"No, just paddocks," I told him.
"So how is the ambulance going to find you?" he asked.

"I am the person sitting in the middle of the road wearing a high-visibility vest and a riding helmet," I told him.

"Oh," he said.

The helpful couple came back and told me they had ushered my horse into a paddock and she seemed unharmed. I asked if they had taken her saddle and bridle off and they said no they didn't know how, but if it needed to be done they could phone a friend who knew about these things.

I said yes please as she may roll and break the saddle's tree.

The nice couple looked puzzled as to why something with four legs would need to roll anywhere and why was a tree involved and perhaps they should warn the paramedics I had bumped my head.

The ambulance arrived and the nice paramedics asked me what had happened.

"Well, it wasn't the horse's fault..." I told them.