The Trail Forward

The feel of drizzling rain on my eye lids brings me back to the moment. I open my eyes trying to make sense of why l am here. The slight tug on the reigns which are still gripped in my hand reminds me that l am with Caliska, who looks down on me with concerned eyes asking if she has done something wrong.


'Its ok girl', l tell her realising that l am in a spot of bother. It's the morning of 26th October 2019 and l now remember the sound of bone cracking. This occurred whilst dismounting and stepping back into that bloody hole, stumbling sideways but the foot staying where it was stuck. No doubt the shock of the breaking bone brought on the unconsciousness, the bodies way of protecting the mind.

Talking softly to Caliska l pull myself up using her stirrup, my head is spinning and l feel like passing out. Caliska is nervous but stands still allowing me to catch my breath. Great! No phone reception and l can't focus. Strapping my left leg tightly with my leather chaps, l now test my leg with some weight, painful but bearable.


Caliska slowly grazes as l hobble forward, stopping often so l can rest just for a short piece. We are about 1km from home now and l am now able to call my son, but struggle to remember where l am for a moment. Help is still a while away so we continue on toward home.


With some relief, l can see home down the hill about 200 metres away. My son has arrived with my house mate who takes Caliska home whilst we head to the hospital.

Hobbling through the emergency door of the Mersey Hospital l check into triage and lay down on the bench seat with my leg up.


The nurse calls me within 20 minutes and l am off for x rays. The verdict is a fracture of both the Tibula & Fibula with a few months of recovery as an added reminder.

The realisation that my annual ride across Tasmania is not going to occur at Christmas has left a very sour taste in my mouth. This is the time l use to reset, to shut down from the stresses of work and to leave the chaos of the world for a time.


This whole incident has rattled me for l am a man of focus, when l ride my mind is usually on the moment, but not this time. For most of this ride l have been busy thinking of the issues facing my department and the struggle l am having engaging my leaders to address the issues. Not my problem you say, well l guess it is now.

The mind is an amazing thing, one which when nourished with positive experiences and sensations allows us to feel that life really is amazing and nothing can bring you down.

However when those experiences are not so positive, painful or there is no end in sight, our emotions can run away from us, leading to feelings of anxiety, sadness, isolation and in the end being overwhelmed.


How do l know this? Because I am not immune to these experiences and even now working to overcome these challenges and those of my childhood. The greatest lessons learnt from this broken leg is that when you are not focused on the job at hand then things can and will go wrong.


If you are bringing problems of work home with you then you are not truly home. This is a warning, telling you that its time to step back, put things into perspective and if need be ask for help. If personal circumstances are too difficult to manage for one reason or another then again its time to ask for help.


Trail riding is my discipline. For me it is a discipline which soothes the soul, calms the mind and a tool which l find helps to maintain a healthy mind and heal some of the pains and scars of the past.


The sound of a horses hooves is like the sound of rain on a tin roof, thinking of the miles past and those to come relaxes the mind because of its simple undertones, to see the smile of those whose paths we cross warms the heart, but it is the bond formed with my horse that fills that hole in my soul.

As l lay under the stars looking up, it is these moments that l think of, those which make the life of a horseman a life worth living.


The signs that someone is struggling may be difficult to see, but sometimes it is the very small things which are out of character that can be the biggest give away. Don't just assume someone has a bad attitude, maybe there is more going on than you think.


Some times asking 'are you OK' is all that is needed, because knowing that someone cares can make all the difference.