Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: ‘I landed smack on my back from the very top of a buck’

  • Hello all and welcome back, this time with another edition of: ‘I’m injured’.

    I am currently on human box rest and I can safely say that if I was a horse, my rehab programme would not being going to plan, and the vet would be called to sedate me to stop me re-injuring myself!

    Straight after I got home from Sheepgate, I fell off (or took a very unplanned dismount). It was totally out of the blue, but unfortunately, falling off is an occupational hazard of riding (pictured top soon after my fall by my sister, who kindly captured the moment!). I landed smack on my back from the very top of a buck, then whacked my head back resulting in whip lash. I immediately knew that it had hurt so I gently rolled into the recovery position so I was already set for when mum and Sam came running over. After taking a 5 minute lie down, I thought I was fine. I didn’t get back on, but carried on working and just assumed I had bruised myself badly. Thank heavens I had my trusty Uvex hat on from Zebra Products, which really saved me from a more serious injury. And a massive thank you to them for supplying me with a new hat too. Wearing a hat is so so so vital, as it replacing it after every fall.

    My hat post-fall

    But when the pain in my lower back got worse rather than better, I knew it was time for medical help. After X rays, I was diagnosed with L5 Isthmic spondylolisthesis. This is a small fracture on my lower spine which caused the vertebrae to shift forward and press on the nerves, creating a lot of swelling around the area, which is why the pain was getting worse.

    So it was time for serious box rest for me. This included an awful lot of napping, hobbling around the kitchen baking various sweet treats to keep the girls on the yard going and watching a lot of TV — I’m proud to say I watched all of season three of Stranger Things in a single day. Because it’s an injury that it unnoticeable (except for my granny-like movements) it’s difficult for me to accept that I can’t do my usual jobs. As a family, we all pull our weight when it comes to yard duties and working horses. I feel awful for slacking and have been attempting to do things, usually resulting in someone shouting “PUT THE BROOM DOWN” and running to put me back to bed. But alas, it’s just not in my nature to sit still. However, I know that to get better I have got to give myself time to heal (I say, begrudgingly).

    This time off allowed me to do a few other cool things. Loaded up on painkillers and moving very slowly, I travelled down to Kent to take part in a photo shoot with Imperial Equestrian for their autumn/winter Pikeur collection. It was a fun-filled day with a lovely group of people, who kept the mood upbeat despite us wearing full winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots in 30+ degrees! I’m not sure I’ve ever sweated so much while just standing, but at least the face sweat created a natural highlight. The clothing pieces were all so beautiful and practical, I can’t wait to get my hands on some come winter!

    At the fashion shoot (I’m pictured second from the left)

    The horses have been kept ticking over by my fabulous mum, sister Samantha and two working pupils Juliette and Megan. Samantha and Simba have been getting on really well, as have mum and Sirocco. Juliette loves riding Seramai, who I unfortunately had to pull out of a regional qualification competition with, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to ride her at the last regionals at Keysoe. If not, Samantha will be piloting! Apollo and Simba have also been enjoying the water treadmill at New Hatches. Simba is loving it and it’s improving his fitness and strength so much.

    Samantha and Simba

    As well as the usual resting, I’ve been seeking regular chiropractic help from the wonderful Dr Dean at Halsa Group. He’s been super in aiding my recovering, so hopefully I will come back better and more aligned than before (no more crooked centre lines!).

    Seeing Dr Dean at Halsa Group

    Continued below…

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    And finally before I finish, a beauty tip. When I fell off, I had my hair in my usual long pony tail down my back. Obviously, this meant that it got the full whack of the fall and was totally covered in our new surface, GP Arenas top competition mix (which incidentally, is a lovely surface to fall off onto — I left an excellent body print in the sand). I brushed the sand from my hair, but the residue wax left behind made my hair look amazing! It had so much body and texture. So next time you are at a show and can’t think how to get rid of hat hair, go for a quick roll about on a nice wax surface and voila! Instant bounce.

    That’s all from me for now, but keep your fingers crossed I’m back up and riding again soon.


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