I still need help putting the saddle on Huszar and I still need a lift to get on Huszar’s back. It has been almost six weeks since my accident. I realize that the most important thing for me to remember as I heal my broken bones is to know where I want to be. I want to be riding my horses! I need to dare as what I know takes daring. I need to do what I love. And I need to accomplish my dreams. My dream is to ride Zum after he has been retrained not to buck and run away….

High head

Horses with a naturally high head, like Arabians, normally have very little tendency to resort to bucking to solve their problems. To deal with Zum’s bucking, I need to raise his head. A horse cannot buck as long as his head is up. In order to buck, a horse needs to arch his backbone and that is mechanically impossible when his head is elevated. It makes sense. But Zum uses bucking as a means to escape from a situation. He gives no warning that he is going to buck.


I decided to ride Huszar today, one month after my accident. I had help putting on the saddle as I still cannot move my right hand. I cannot express the joy I felt being up in the saddle on my horse again. I neck reined Huszar with my left hand and he was as happy as I was to be out, riding free in the hills and arroyos under a blue sky!


I need to get Zum out of the corral everyday and take him on walks. My right wrist still doesn’t move so I need someone to help me with walking Zum. My ferrier took Zum’s shoes off but Zum wouldn’t let him trim his feet. I have to keep massaging my right wrist so I can move my knuckles. I need to trim Zum’s feet myself.

Good habits

Bad habits like bucking are learned by repetition of stress-producing situations. Bad habits can be unlearned by repetition of good subhabits. I am constantly reinforcing Zum’s good habits now. I am displacing his fear with the reward of security.


I am so happy to be able to hike with my dog Karuna again. I rescued her a few years ago and her name was Katie. She used to run away every opportunity she got. Now she stays by my side. Karuna means ‘loving kindness.’ She is living up to the name I gave her. I am so grateful for her love.


Stress is the most usual cause of escape behavior. An escape that succeeds is likely to be repeated. Before Zum’s bucking and running away habit can be broken, its component parts must be unlearned. I have my work cut out for me. I have to retrain Zum completely. His fear of doing a task is equal to his fear of not doing it. I have to relieve his stress every step of each activity that I do with him. Then I need to substitute reward and build security.

Free of fear

I know that the one thing a horse wants more than anything else is to be free of fear. His basic motivation is to be in a state of emotional security. It is when a horse feels insecure that he develops bad habits. He remembers well anything that hurt or scared him badly even if it only happened once a long time ago. When a similar situation presents itself. he will react to his remembered fear and do something violent. Zum has trauma relating to certain stimuli. For now, as I recover from the accident, I can exclude negative distractions and build Zum’s confidence in me.


People are telling me that I need to sell Zum. He has bucked me off twice now. Both times were very serious accidents for me. I will agree that Zum is spooky. He is afraid of horses, cows, mules and motorcycles. Zum is young and inexperienced. He can be worked with on the ground to get over his fears. Zum is not a perfect horse but for me, he still feels right.


I am getting better. Right after the accident, I did this three step shuffle…step with the right foot, step-step with the left foot. My cousin called my walk the broken rib waltz. I was hunched over with the pain in my ribs and lung. Three weeks later, I can walk slowly and lift my chest. My doctor wants me to breathe deeply to heal my collapsed lung. I can practice my deep yogic breathing while I take my donkey to graze on a small hill.