Blogger Contest finalist Rick Wallace was all set with his fall schedule leading up to Fair Hill CCI3*, and had his sights set first on the American Eventing Championships at the Texas Rose Horse Park. However, the best laid plans always seem to change– Rick suffered an unfortunate broken wrist and will be watching from the sidelines this fall. Many thanks to Rick for writing, and we hope he gets well soon! Visit his blog at teamwallace.org.
The American Eventing Championships (AEC) have become a must do event for TeamWallace Eventing (TW). Over the years, we have participated in the AEC’s and have marveled at its growth and participation. Developed to be inclusive of all the levels in Eventing, the AEC’s has established itself as the goal event of many riders throughout the country.
I decided last December that TW Eventing would be traveling to Texas to participate in the 2013 AEC’s. It was my goal to get all my kids qualified and to get Ultimate Victory qualified to do the $40K Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Championships. The schedules where made and the work was done and TW Eventing qualified everyone on the team.
The planning for the AEC’s have been challenging for several reasons. My daughter, Elisa Wallace is doing the Million Dollar Mustang Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas the weekend before (it is going on now) and I had to figure out how to get all the horses to Texas so that I could be able to watch her in the finals should she make the top 20. I had planned to head to Texas on September 20th and had help from our incoming USEA President, Diane Pitts on finding a private barn to keep the horses in Ft. Worth. Special thanks to Diane for taking time to find me a place to go.
I had to coordinate with parents on the kids traveling to Texas and worked on how to minimize missing school days. I have a busy consulting company which I had to figure out how to make sure I did not fall behind in my commitments and I have Cherry Hill Farm which I now lease and have to ensure care for the entire 40 acre facility. All this can be daunting but the plans were made, schedules developed and all seemed to be fitting together very well.
As all plans go, we are often hit with road blocks and mine came after my run in the CIC 3 Star at Poplar. Ultimate Victory’s training regiment was redeveloped after Bromont and he has been responding very well to the conditioning program. He finished 4th in the OI at Chatt Hills the end of August and we heading to the CIC 3 Star well prepped. We managed a very nice stadium round and headed out Sunday morning on the cross country course.
Ultimate Victory – Cody – was jumping nicely as we headed down to the angled brush at the Mulberry Pound. Knowing he drifts left, I did not make the line correction needed and as we approached the brush and I felt the drift begin. He boldly jumped the angled brush and made the drift left, enough left that we had no ground to land on on the backside and he landed in the ditch. It was basically on his belly and I was standing next to him on the other side. I was able to undo my air vest so it did not deploy and Cody climbed out of the ditch a little bewildered at what had happened.
I was disappointed at my approach and we headed to the barn with just dirt on his underside. Of course, now I am trying to figure out the fall season with Fair Hill being our final goal for the year. It was then apparent that I needed to do extremely well at the AEC Advanced Championships in two weeks which would prove to me that we were both ready for Fair Hill. We were already qualified but I wanted my green Advanced horse prepared if we were going to tackle a CCI 3 Star again.
TeamWallace riders finished up the weekend with Parker Miller and Jos Baco having a successful move up to Training and Ultimate Decision who won the dressage…again…went clean cross country but moved to 5th after having rails in his weak phase. Briggs and Taylor had some bad luck in their first CIC 1 Star. Briggs managed a beautiful CC round but missed fence 20 at the end of the course and Taylor’s mare did not like the soft footing in the stadium. Always a work in progress.
The trip home from Poplar with my student Briggs Surrat was full of optimism as we talked about the AEC’s, the need to never forget a cc jump again and the excitement of competing in Texas. As we pulled into Cherry Hill Farm, I was tired and ready to get the horses off the trailer and get some rest. Little did I know, all my well laid plans were about to go up in smoke.
I have to say to those of you reading, many accidents happen when loading and unloading our horses. We should never let our guard down even when we have easy horses. My excuse is that I was just plain out stupid. Ultimate Decision – Mark – has developed a bad habit of bolting backwards when you undo the partition. I know this and have made concessions on how to unload him.
Cody came off first and Briggs took him to the barn. I put the butt bar back up and untied Mark. I was thinking about the weekend and not really paying attention to what I was doing. I reached for the release on the partition and for some reason I went to grab the extender release. My right hand was on the partition and Mark bolted backwards slamming the partition into the tack storage wall.
What I saw happen was surreal. My hand went all the way back to my arm and was held there while Mark push back to the butt bar. To see you body part do something it should not do is very weird. I do not remember any pain but when I saw my hand released from the weight of Mark, it just flapped on my arm. All I could think was, “I just broke my wrist in two, how the hell am I going to ride next week!!!”
Mark stood patiently at the butt bar stop and I went to the trailer window and yelled for Briggs to get back to the trailer. He came running down and all I could manage was, “I just broke my wrist. Get Mark off and get him to his stall.” Poor Briggs looked mortified as he say my limp wrist – ok no jokes please. The swelling started immediately and we still had Hat Trick to unload.
Briggs made it back and I released Hat Trick’s partition and he was unloaded and put up. My mind was blowing up. I stayed calm and instructed Briggs to get his bags out of the trailer and to go home because he had homework. A very important thing for me and my kids are good grades. He asked if he needed to take me to the hospital and I said, no homework is more important for you. I WILL BE FINE! Ask Elisa about that line. I say it all the time.
I took my bags out of the living quarters, took them up to the apartment, looked at my horrible wrist and went to my car. I was alone and I broke down for just a minute soaking in the realization of my Fall plans being destroyed. I knew this was a bad break and I knew surgery was going to be needed.
I called Elisa who was in Texas already with the mustangs and being my beautiful supportive daughter, I cried one more time. She told me,” YOU WILL BE FINE!! You can ride in a cast. Take a deep breath”. So I did. It made me feel better for the moment.
I drove to Tallahassee, about 25 miles from the farm with one hand making necessary calls along the way. I called a Dr Randall, a friend of mine, and asked her which hospital was the best one to go to and she told me. When I arrived, I found a place to park and headed in the emergency room. Ok, when hospital staff look at an injury they are not supposed to gasp. They did. Made me feel even better.
Some pain meds, xray’s and confirmation that my wrist was very broken, I headed to Wendy’s got #6 and a frosty for Sam and headed to the condo in town to pick up the dogs and watch Big Brother. I am such a Wallace.
Determined that I would not let this interfere with my riding, I went to the Orthopedic Doctor in the morning and announced that I was going to be riding in the American Eventing Championships next weekend. They looked at me like I was crazy. He told me I needed surgery and wanted to do it October 3rd which was perfect for me as it would not interfere with my AEC schedule.
Of course, I instructed them I needed a temporary cast that I could ride in and so they put one on and after about 10 minutes, I called the doctor back in and asked for 3 inches of it to be cut off. He rolled his eyes and had it shortened. I was told it was a compound fracture into the joint and would require a plate. Well Fair Hill was out but I held on the the hope of the AEC’s.
Yes, crazy thoughts but it helped me make it through the horrible shock of all the hard work preparing for the season. My backup plans needed to be made so I called Elisa and asked if she would ride Mark if I could not ride and of course she said yes. Then I had to make a call to one of my best friends, Jon Holling. I believe I sent a text first…. “Jon, I broke my wrist, would you consider riding Cody at the AEC’s if I can’t?”
Reply (paraphrased): ”Oh man. I am so sorry. What the hell happened? Of course I will.” A sigh of relief went over me and I knew no matter what, my horses were in good hands. Now for the last test to make my stubborn head realize that I was not the rider for my horses at the AEC’s.
I woke up Tuesday morning. Got my barn manager, Kristen to saddle up Cody and off I went with my “riding cast”!! I had told Jon that if it wasn’t going to work, I would get Cody right down to him in Ocala. Well, I could flat just fine. Yes painful but I could do it. Then I realized, you fool, you can not jump with a compound fractured wrist. I turned Cody back to the barn, pulled out my phone, called Jon and told him on was on the way.
Jon Holling is one of the best riders in the United States and I say that with all the honesty and knowing as a rider. I have had his and Jenn’s help over the years and he knows my horse but has never ridden him. I would leave it up to Jon on whether he would take the ride over after he sat on him. Then it will be his decision on which division to do him in, the OI or the Advanced.
It was a long day taking Cody down to the Holling’s. I watched Jon ride Cody brilliantly and he committed to doing him in the OI and would ride him throughout the week and make a final decision when he got to the AEC’s on the division he was best suited to compete Cody.
I love Jon and Jenn and of course, Katy Long. They have stepped up to ensuring my hard work does not go down the drain. I drove off the Holling’s farm knowing I had made the right decision and knowing I had some very special friends.
I made a lot of phone calls on the way back from Ocala. Robert Kellerman was fantastic and made arrangements for me to get the entries changed. Christina Gray helped me with what I needed to submit and Rob Burke at the USEA gave me some guidance as well. Thanks to everyone for their help with this awful situation.
I know my situation is not any different from all of you in meeting challenges from an injury to ourselves or our horses. The scrambling of changing plans, redirecting schedules and working on the details can be daunting. All this with a cast on and a major aversion to pain medication. It makes me extremely ill.
Right now, all things are reset. I will be standing by to fly to Ft. Worth on Saturday should Elisa make the Mustang Finals. Then fly back Sunday and load two of the AEC horses from Cherry Hill Farm on Tuesday to go the Tyler, Texas. I have managed so far but do not look forward to the surgery which will put me down for awhile. This too, I shall overcome.
I want to thank and be very grateful to ProRiders and the disability insurance which comes with membership. Samantha Lendle has been very diligent in providing me with all the paperwork needed to file my claim and so I want those of you out there who are not members to go to the site and join. It is a benefit that can not be passed up.
Special thanks to my sponsor Tredstep Ireland for believing in me and my horses. This is only a small bump in the road and I will be back out with all three of my horses soon. Thanks to my daughter for taking the ride on Mark, truly a catch ride as she will only get a day or so on his back before competing. Of course, thanks to the Holling’s and Katy Long and thanks to my TW kids and their parents.
I will continue to write about the AEC experience from the ground and from the perspective of an owner and trainer. Making the best of the circumstances is my message to everyone and good luck to all the AEC competitors this year at Texas Rose Horse Park!!