“I mean, how many people can say, ‘My foot is broken, I’m relearning to walk, but I trust my four-year-old horse to safely maneuver me through shooting patterns?’”

In my last article I discussed how I broke my foot. This event shattered all my goals for the summer and fall. It was a devastating occurrence for me. I had an array of milestones I wanted to meet with Payco before heading to the 2022 CMSA Four Year Old Futurity in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Instead, Payco got fat and sassy in the field all of July and most of August. That’s right, MOST of August. We have returned to work!!

My first follow up appointment was on August 4, 2022. It feels as if it was an eternity ago. At that appointment the physician stated that my foot was healing faster than anticipated and should be completely healed at my next appointment in three weeks. She cleared me to bicycle — as long as I pedaled mostly with my left foot — kayak and horseback ride! Still no driving my truck, manual car or street bike, but I didn’t care about that. She said the magic words — I was allowed to ride!

There were stipulations though. I wasn’t allowed to go above a walk. I had to ride in my big ole’ boot. No putting my broken foot in the stirrup. Do not overdo it.

Photo courtesy of Marcella Gruchalak

The very next day I threw a saddle on Payco and guess what. I overdid it. I went for a short trail ride of 45 minutes but the pressure of going up and down hill, even with my feet out of the stirrups, was enough to make my foot ache.

I had to give myself rules, which I dislike, but at least I was atop my horse. I only allowed myself to ride for 30 minutes a day and it had to be on all flat. So for the next three weeks I either worked at a walk in my arena or I took a nice stroll down my street and back. It was quite uneventful but I suppose that’s a good thing when your foot is broken.

Three weeks flew by and before I knew it my next follow up appointment was here. This appointment was the appointment all my hopes and dreams were riding on. I prayed long and hard that my foot was healed, I’d be cleared for full riding and I’d have a few weeks to get myself ready for the futurity.

As I pushed myself into my next follow up appointment on August 25, 2022 — my knee scooter and I have become one since my last article, although I do still occasionally run into walls — I knew my foot wasn’t completely healed. I continued to have pain in the area where my foot was broken but, I was hoping the physician would tell me different.

I should know better. The physician confirmed some of the least exciting news I heard all summer. My foot was, in fact, still broken. I was devastated. I was really hoping to compete on Payco at the futurity. I almost cried right in the exam room. But then I remembered, I’m a bad a$$ b!+ch, and before I knew what I was saying, I asked my doctor if I could go and compete.

Photo by Mr. Quigley Photography

To my surprise he said yes! I’m actually still quite shocked about it. He gave me stipulations and they’re actually not THAT terrible. I am not allowed to go balls to the walls like I had planned. No dismounting onto the broken foot. No falling off. I must use my scooter at least 50 percent of the day, but I also must bear weight for some of the day. I’m allowed to take my boot cast off and wear my regular boot to compete — but then it has to go right back on afterwards! Try to limit my riding time.

AS SOON AS I GOT HOME — I mean I parked at the barn door and not even at my front door — I saddled up Buns and Payco and I rode. Just about every day since, I’ve been riding. Sometimes I catch myself so happy to be in the saddle that I ride until after dark, just watching the fireflies and enjoying the warm summer air.

Photo by Mr. Quigley Photography

My goals for the CMSA Eastern Championship and Four Year Old Futurity are completely different from the ones I had at the beginning of the year, but I’m just so happy to be going. My goals are to have safe, consistent runs and to show off how awesome my four year old is. I mean, how many people can say, “My foot is broken, I’m relearning to walk, but I trust my four year old horse to safely maneuver me through shooting patterns?” If there’s any team that showcases the mission of the four year old nonpro futurity, it’s me and Payco.

I’m excited to be back at it and enjoying the sport I love with the horses I trust. I can’t wait to walk into the ring and show off my horses!

At the time of publication, Marcella, Payco and Buns are in the midst of competing at the CMSA Eastern US Championships. We can’t wait to hear how they do!

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