"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Knee

So almost 3 weeks ago now, Charles and I went on a long trail ride at the park across the street where we did about 10 miles in 2 hours or so. I figured out the best way to get in 10 miles without repeating trail loops, which means if we ever want to do 20 miles, we just have to do the same route twice.

Beaming :)
Lily says, "Can we stop taking pictures already and just go?"
We had an absolute blast. This was Lily's official comeback from the sinkhole experience: she trotted throughout the trails without hesitation, attacked hills at a canter or even gallop going up, and insisted on trotting going down. I was laughing at her throughout the ride. She was all, "I did the OD! This is EASY!" Gracie did a good job of keeping up. The day was overcast and in the 80's but so, so muggy that the mares and us all looked like we'd been doused with a hose less than 30 minutes into the ride. We made sure to cross through the river a couple of times to give the mares the opportunity to drink water. Gracie pretended to drink while Lily guzzled each time. I think Gracie is one of those horses that won't drink until she's done 15+ miles...

I love this river. The water is so clear!
Wading into the water above her knees
Lily and me
Gracie pretending to drink water...

We were on our last leg of the ride and cantering through one of the wider sections of trail, except it wound around the trees. We've done this section every time we go to this park, usually at a trot or canter. Charles is familiar with the turns and I've told him that you have to be careful with tight turns on the trail because the horses are well aware of where they fit, but they don't normally take into account the extra room needed to accommodate saddle flaps and rider knees as well.

Well, Gracie took a sharp turn around one of the trees too tightly. Charles tried to correct her at the last second but she simply turned her head, not her body. Charles's left knee got slammed into the tree full force at the canter...it's really a miracle that he didn't fall off from the impact. He didn't even lose his balance. But his knee sure paid for it.

It took us 30 minutes to get back to the barn. Charles immediately took ibuprofen that I had in my saddle bags. His knee was still the size of a grapefruit upon returning to the barn.

We set Charles up with an ice pack in a chair with his leg propped up while I hosed off and fed both mares as quickly as possible. I knew he had to be seen by a doctor but he can be a stubborn mule when it comes to getting medical attention. Thankfully, Kathy, Zoe and Dianne were all at the barn at that moment and they all saw his knee and they all said he should be seen. It didn't take much convincing actually, which basically showed how much he hurt.

I put Lily and Gracie back out and we rushed over to Charles's hospital. One perk of working in the ER is that everyone knows you and you get ushered in. It helped that the ER was quiet at that time of the afternoon as well.

One of his coworker doctors saw Charles; she examined his knee and determined it to not be dislocated (which was hard to tell at that point with the massive swelling it had developed). X-rays were taken and there were no fractures. He was set up with crutches and pain meds and told to take the week off of work.

Day of the accident.
4 days later.
It's half that size now, but it has bruising over the knee itself that is starting to turn all sorts of purple and blue, and looks hideous. It
He's ended up needing 3 weeks off, but after 2 rechecks with an orthopedist, it was confirmed that there is definitely no ligament damage either. The swelling over his knee is simply fluid buildup that needs to be reabsorbed and that will take time. It's too thick to be drained. He can walk without cane or crutches but does tire out after a couple of hours on his feet because he is still limping. He is cleared to return to work next week but is on exercise restrictions including riding for the next 3 months just to play it safe.

He's been trying to imitate Dr. House in the meantime. :) He was so, so, SO lucky though. I can write about it now that things are on the mend. I still feel awful that this happened on my watch but I was riding in front, had warned him about the tree, and we'd ridden that trail several times before. It was just one of those freak things that can happen to any of us. But now Charles knows to at least slow down if it looks like the horse is not going to make the turn with enough room. If you're going to hit it, at least try to do it slowly. That's saved my own knees countless times.

In the meantime while waiting for the final verdict, I'd been riding on my days off and worrying whenever I wasn't actively working. It kind of cast a shadow over everything else the last 2 weeks.

The weekend after the accident, Kathy and I trailered to Seneca Creek Park to ride. It was a lovely 8 mile loop that we did mostly at a walk. 

My phone decided it didn't want to take photos on this day, so Kathy very kindly let me use hers:

This section looked like an enchanted forest. So, so beautiful!
View of the trail (and Gracie) from between Queenie's ears
Going up one of the inclines

Old grain mill
Seneca Creek. The trail pretty much followed the creek the entire way.

It was surprisingly hilly and both Queenie and Gracie broke a sweat climbing. Gracie was a very good girl and became a pro at crossing bridges...except for the one time she decided she didn't like one particular bridge (I have no idea why) so she turned and dashed up the side of the hill next to the trail! I brought her right back around and we crossed the bridge right on Queenie's tail. 

At the next bridge, Gracie tried that same stunt again before I could even get her close to the bridge. Oh HELL NO! She got brought to a halt STAT and I asked Kathy to wait, as Gracie needed to go first. No way was she getting away with this new trick. I pointed Gracie at the bridge and kicked her forward. "Yes ma'am!" she said and crossed like there had never been an issue. There were no other problems with the various bridges we encountered on the trail.

Again, she reminds me SO much of Lucero.

Sweaty mare is sweaty.
And pouting because she couldn't go around the trailer to steal Queenie's beet pulp...she had just finished her own!
I want to note that she was SO GOOD about loading into the trailer, both going and leaving! Only a couple seconds of hesitation before she hopped on.
Other than that adventure, I limited my riding to the arena or the driveway, though I did take Lily to the Hill of Doom in the back woods to practice hill sets. It's a short hill but it's very steep, probably at a 75 degree angle. I need to get more pictures for you guys; I only have one shot of it from last fall and it does NOT do the incline justice. We worked on it for 20 minutes, galloping up and walking back down until every time I turned Lily to walk back down, she'd pause, "You're kidding me, right? Again?! I'm bored." You wouldn't know it had been any kind of effort for her though...she pranced all the way home afterwards!

Goofy horses.

Since he couldn't accompany me with the horses and we couldn't do any of the other stuff we normally do outdoors like running and hiking, we tried out a couple of new restaurants, like the Dogfish Head Alehouse.

Raison D'Etre. Yes, please.
Turned out it was live music night and a band called Bad Influence was playing!
They played Grateful Dead-type songs. Good music.
In Tampa, Charles and I used to love going out to a local hippie hangout called Skippers Smokehouse where they had a Grateful Dead cover band. We used to just love to sit and people watch. This brought back memories. 
I was called to do a bib clip on old man Paris, the Cushings OTTB owned by the three ladies at my previous barn. It was a really wonderful visit where I got to catch up with everyone: BQ, Jackie, Tina, Alex & John, and Paris's moms. I was originally planning on being there for two hours tops...and ended up staying for four!

Paris's moms pay for his clips with the most wonderful surprises, sometimes with food made by themselves (they are amazing cooks!) or with gift cards to some really awesome local restaurants that we never would have heard of otherwise. This time around, I received a gift card to a place called Tower Oaks Lodge. We had never heard about it before so Charles and I decided to check it out that same evening.

Thankfully I had decided to check out Yelp reviews to see which dishes people liked the most (we looked at the menu beforehand and everything sounded amazing), and read that most people dress up quite a bit to go to this particular restaurant. Based on the prices (comparable to, say, Carraba's. Restaurants in the DC area tend to be expensive but this one was on the lower end of the spectrum for what we've become used to. Not cheap, but most entrees were under $20), we would not have expected that. So we dressed up a little more than originally planned and were really happy that we did: there were a lot of people in cocktail dresses, dress shirts and pleated pants. Very country club. We weren't quite that fancy, but just enough to blend in. I hate being underdressed...

The place was stunningly beautiful, and I'm still astounded that we'd never heard of it before!

The food was as beautiful as it was delicious.
They make everything from scratch using local produce and meats. Their menu changes depending on what's seasonally available.
Yup, the place has a decorative tack room!
In fact, there was an equestrian theme throughout the restaurant.
This hallway. Magical.

I mean guys, that's the bar!
These photos are all mine, but if you want to see better photos, go to their website.

So yeah. We're just relieved at the moment. 


  1. I'm glad to hear there's no permanent damage to Charles' knee, poor guy! That's a lesson most of us have learned the hard way.

    1. I know; same here. :/ I'm just glad he's okay and getting better!

  2. Oww poor Charles! Thwacking knees on things is no fun!

  3. Replies
    1. It was the size of a large grapefruit when I took those photos. :(

  4. Not nearly as bad, but I hurt my knee in November and went to the quack (German doctor) and he xrayed and ultrasounded and said, "OK, there's no water on the knee" and I was like "No kidding, that's a real condition?"

    Like the game Operation - one of the tasks is to remove Water on the Knee? Poor Altair.

    I love that he's riding with you, but I shall not show my husband this post cuz...knee!

    I'm glad you found a horse that reminds you of Lucero. Her neck is so much better now (it was scary before) and that photo shows what a nice long hip she has. Nice that she can be "convinced" to proceed. Mine cannot--putting my heels into my horse at a creek results in a loss of several hours time.

    1. No, definitely don't show J! "Water on the knee"...I guess they mean effusion in the knee? That's a funny way of describing it.

      Oh my goodness, yes: Gracie's neck was awful before. She was the poster child for insulin resistance. She even had the fat pads over her eyes. It's amazing what a more appropriate diet (grazing muzzle on during the day, handful of low starch ration balancer am and pm) and exercise will do for them! When I first got her she was a blade of grass away from a laminitis attack.

      Gracie does have a tendency to balk like Mara does when she feels intimidated. Usually I let her look and she gets over it in a few seconds but not this time with the two bridges. Every time she asks to stop to look at something, I'm reminded of your girl though. Except Gracie will cow kick in protest if you ask her to move on before she is done looking at the intimidating object!

  5. Ooo, that knee looks gnarly. My condolences!

    1. I wanted to post pics of it now, but while it looks MUCH better swelling-wise, it is all sorts of purple now. It's weird how the bruising has behaved: he initially had it above and below the knee and once that healed, it started at the knee itself.

  6. Wow that restaurant looks amazing!!!

    Ouch! I'm so glad Charles's knee is going to be okay. That looks so painful!!! I would not have been able to ride with that for half an hour. He's tough!!!!! I learned as a kid to watch my knees. I smashed it a few times but never that bad. I hope he's not in pain anymore.

    Oh and that old grain mill is awesome!

    1. Yeah, it was still a half hour ride for us to get back to the barn. He actually did a lot better riding than walking; he couldn't really walk once he dismounted. The pain is pretty much gone now; he just has discomfort and temporarily limited motion as a result of the remaining swelling.

      I loved that grain mill too! And the restaurant was just magical. We're looking forward to going again sometime.

  7. Yep. Looks like the textbook image for "dislocated knee". He's gotta learn to be more agile in the saddle if he's gonna go fast around things like that! Haha. I learned to whip my legs out of stirrups and throw them places out of the way when I was a kid after spending months riding a horse who LOVED to make attempts to throw my legs into beams. No fewer than 12 attempts during a lesson. Nevermind that my antics in the saddle to move my leg look bizarre and kind of like I'm running from an imaginary spider web or bee... Carlos, join me in my frantic saddle antics to avoid pain! Together we shall remain flawless and beautiful because trees will leave us unscathed!

    Additionally, that restaurant looks KICKASS.

  8. That sucks about Charles' knee...but now he's got a great ride story to share on the trail when he meets new people. There's nothing like the time-honored tradition of trying to top someone else's injury story:)

    1. Hahaha great point, and something that I'm sure he will be doing!