We had just returned from a 9-mile ride. I was in the trailer preparing to head to the mess hall for lunch. Suddenly, a deafening noise interrupted the usual sounds of horses whinnying for missing stablemates.
I rushed out of the trailer in time to see a Lifeline helicopter landing in the open space a mere 80 feet from our trailer. Understandably, the horse tethered to the trailer next to ours was having a meltdown. The immediate appearance of his owner settled him enough to allow the copter to land.
Apparently, a lady had come off of her mule. The mule fell on her and broke her hip. She is 66 years old and part of “The Wild Bunch”… a group that had been coming to the Big Piney for many, many years.
Soon after landing, several EMT’s piled out of the helicopter and jumped into the truck of the guy who runs the camp. They headed up to the ridge where the accident occurred. Soon after that, the helicopter took off. The new plan was to land in a meadow closer to the injured rider.
We learned from her riding group that she had surgery the day after the accident.
Are safety precautions only for wimps?
Our week at 4-J Big Piney was our second organized event in 3 weeks. At each ride, someone got hurt. I mentioned in my blog about Daniel Boone Days in Virginia that our friend Butch came off of his horse and broke two ribs. He also punctured a lung. He, too, spent some time in the hospital.
Alan and I saw maybe one or two other men wearing helmets. We met and rode often with a couple from Illinois. She wore a helmet, he didn’t. She is an experienced rider. He’s about the same skill level as Alan… an “advanced newbie”. Sure, a cowboy hat looks a lot cooler… but it isn’t cool to drool.
This couple both have severe allergic reactions to Valium. What are the odds, if they were in an accident and unable to speak for themselves, that they would be given Valium? That is a very, very common drug.
We suspect that we take some “silent ribbing” about our safety precautions. To our knowledge, we were the only ones in camp wearing hit-air vests. We were among the minority wearing helmets, but more and more women are doing that. And we were the only ones who had visible medical and emergency information available should we need it. I would not want to have to try and remember critical information if I was lying on a rocky piece of ground with a broken hip.
My guess is that some folks assume we take all of those precautions because we are riding those “crazy Arabians.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our horses are well trained and responsive. They are extremely surefooted. They rarely spook, and if they do, it is in place. We had a photo session at the Big Piney and then rode them bareback using only halters into the river for another shot. Not exactly wild beasties…
All of our animals wear identification information
Additionally, both of our horses have been wearing ID tags since we left Colorado. We are constantly in new places where no one knows us or our horses. All four dogs have (or had) collars embroidered with their name and my phone number. They are being tied to the trailer intermittently throughout the day. They are not terribly used to being tethered, and two of them have pulled hard enough that they broke their plastic, quick-release collars. Two more are ordered and will be shipped to our next camp. I am going back to what I used to always order… regular, metal buckles.
Maybe we are paranoid. Maybe, we are just having such a wonderful time living our dream that we don’t want to interrupt it with a lengthy stay in the hospital. We are by no means foolish enough to think that our advanced precautions are absolute protection against injury. But we want to give ourselves every opportunity to stand up and walk away after an accident.
We have left the Big Piney and moved on to our next destination, Coldwater Ranch in Eminence, Missouri. More coming about that next week. But I wanted to provide a few more details about 4-J, for those of you who have never been there…
4-J Big Piney Facts
The trails are amazing and vary between easy and challenging. You will never run out of new places to go. They are very rocky, though, and some folks put pads on their horses. There is a farrier available in camp. He’s good and SUPER reasonable!
The stalls are small, as they are in many places. They are about 8 feet square and covered. They provide all the shavings you want and clean them out when you leave.
Black tank pump-outs are available, with come-to-your-trailer service. Additionally, you can purchase hay, grain, and firewood. They have a small tack shop as well.
There was an awesome artist on site, and she decorated many trucks and trailers, ours included!
The same photographer has been there every year. This year’s photoshoot was lots of fun and we bought the jpg files for a VERY reasonable price!
We thoroughly enjoyed the fun show that I wrote about in last week’s post about the Big Piney. We also enjoyed the tack auction (two separate ones, both new and used tack.) The couple that we met and rode with ended up buying a new LQ trailer from a local dealer, and a new saddle. And then they bought a horse at the auction! There was a benefit auction for foster kids in Arizona that raised over $20,000.
Canoeing or kayaking down the Big Piney River is an option. We enjoyed an 83-degree day last week on the river! Finn and Kara enjoyed it as well!
Alan and I love going to 4-J Big Piney and rolled over our reservation deposit to next year. We highly recommend it!