Anatomy of an Accident ~ On Life ~ And Death ~ Part II ~
What makes us more vulnerable to accidents, I asked? Beware anything out of the ordinary: distraction, interruption, loss of focus, added or different people, any break in your normal routine . . .
When Tragedy Strikes ~ Lessons About Life ~ From Dying
Ten years ago this Spring, one of my best friends was killed while riding her horse. This is the second post in a series of my struggle with the loss of my good friend, Sherrie T.
(Please read previous post: Lessons for Living ~ From Dying ~ On Life ~ And Death ~ Part I ~)
In the previous post, I did my best to come to terms with losing Sherrie. Seeking to go Up, into Goodness, and search for meaning in her loss . . .
In this post, I analyze what happened in her tragic accident, and strive to learn how to stay safe.
The Anatomy of an Accident
As much as I needed to come to peace with Sherrie’s passing, I also needed to understand: How? Why? What happened?
What could have prevented this???
Sherrie and I were both horse professionals. She was an excellent horse person. What caused Sherrie’s tragic death? How could I learn from this?
So I set out to find out what happened that night.
A short end-of-day ride. A series of unfortunate blunders. But blunders, that on any good horse, would not have lead to her death.
In the long run — my conclusion here — Sherrie died trying to make a bad horse good.
I learned at the Memorial Service, later, that a friend had asked her that morning why Sherrie no longer did Endurance Rides.
“Because I don’t trust my horse,” she replied.
Yet that evening she rode that horse, and she died, crushed by him when he fell on her in slick, steep footing, after spooking and bucking her off.
What did My Accidents Have in Common?
In trying to learn from Sherrie’s accident, I decided to look over my own. To look at every accident I’d been in — car, horse, and otherwise — and search for a common set of circumstances, trigger’s, or tip-offs that might spell trouble in advance.
(I also learned to cull the bad horses that elude domestication, that can’t be counted on to keep a rider safe. From temperament to visual to other physical limitations, evaluate the prospect for safety and compliance throughout the training process.)
Life is full of risks, and all of us engage in activities that are potentially deadly — all the time.
(How about driving in a car!)
How can we know when something should be avoided? Is there some intuitive warning system that we can learn to heed?
I made a list of everything I could think of.
What did my accidents have in common? Was there any knowing beforehand?
Red Flags! — Warning Signs!
In looking over the accidents, I found the following similarities:
1) Strong, Overriding Emotion
Pressed for Time!
2) **Broken Routine**
Something out of the ordinary — a series of mistakes or doomed circumstances, any one of which may be benign, but in combination prove to be deadly.
Normally I do it this way, but today . . . another
Usually I ride in this saddle . . . but today . . .
Visiting guests, gusting wind, distractions . . .
3) Intuitive Hit
Head’s up Hunch
Don’t Do It
This Isn’t Smart
Conclusion: STOP! Wait!
If you have any of the above circumstances, STOP!!!
Take your time. Wait it out.
**WATCH the guiding emotion!!**
If it’s fear, or pressure, or anxiety: It’s not worth it!
Disengage! Slow down!
I saw that often a series of blunders or mistakes made any activity way more likely to be dangerous.
Like, for example, a carriage incident I had one Thanksgiving when I went to harness Starboy to my Meadowbrook oak cart. I was in a hurry and didn’t really have the time . . . but
* I INSISTED on driving the carriage that day! (Overriding Emotion)
* My horse trailer that I tied to for hitching, was parked, for the first time, in the wrong place, on a down-sloping hill. (Break in Routine — the Ranch owner had moved the trailer because he made a new road to split up his property)
I hitched Starboy, tied to the trailer. He took one step forward. His neck turned like a noodle — but because of the down-slope my trailer was parked on, the odd step he took, and the restriction of the carriage on his hindquarters, he promptly buckled over — breaking the entire leather harness! (Requiring extensive repairs.)
Carriage drive over before it began.
(Fortunately he wasn’t hurt.)
Although I don’t recall having a feeling of dread (Intuitive Hit) on that incident, I did on some of the other accidents.
And yet sometimes, even when I’ve had a feeling of dread — everything worked out fine. So that emotion alone isn’t always a “given” for determining fate.
Yet a combination of the above seems to pre-determine susceptibility to an accident.
And I’ve learned from this, and I believe it’s saved me.
I’ve learned to listen to my intuition, and to back off when I feel pressured or rushed.
Like the other day, when I was in a funk. And I didn’t feel like driving in Malibu-to-home rush-hour traffic. And I stopped. And I listened.
And instead of hitting the freeway, I drove back towards the beach, parked my car and took a hike up a sweet Springtime canyon.
And I felt the sun on my skin, and I heard the birds chirp. And I smelled the young green foliage.
And I chilled out. And I was Grateful for my Life. And I drove home safely later, when the pressure was off . . .
Anatomy of an Accident:
1) Listen/Follow Your Intuition
* Quietly seek out Peace and Calm
* Let no Emotion interfere with this
* Move forward When the Energy seems Peaceful
2) Beware of Insistent, Stubborn Emotion — ie: Rushed for Time
* If feeling: frenzied, rushed, “off”, negative, insistent —
* STOP! CHILL OUT! Off-set the emotional spiral
* Wait for the Chill to return . . .
3) Caution: Especially Beware: Broken Routine!
* A series of blunders, poor judgment precedes disaster
* Beware anything out of the ordinary: distraction, interruption, loss of focus, added or different people, any break in your normal routine
4) PRAY! Ask for Insight
* Take a moment to meditate. Pray. Chill out. Breathe . . .
* Look up, out, into Nature. Connect with something peaceful
* Seek angelic help: What should I do? Go? Stay? Postpone???
*** This loops us back to #1)
5) STOP! WAIT! Don’t proceed further until the Energy clears
6) Stay in GRATITUDE
* We communicate with Spirit, God, through feelings, thoughts, desires . . .
* The most potent prayer is a prayer of Gratitude.
* Stay Grateful — Look. LISTEN. Feel.
(See My Yoda Story)
Considering I work with big, potentially dangerous horses on a regular basis, I can report that this system has worked.
Following the above guidelines has, literally, saved me.
I am much more chill about my actions now. I avoid going forth when feeling rushed or distracted or pressured.
I feel no shame in stopping and walking away from a potentially dangerous or nerve-rattling setting.
I now take the time to center myself, go up into Goodness and Gratitude — and feel the energy settle before setting headlong into what I’d planned to do.
I have also eliminated certain horses from my riding program, based on their inability to comply with the reasonable wishes and directions of their handler/rider.
And I thank you, Sherrie, for helping me understand all this.
For out of your tragedy, you gave me a beautiful, reflective gift.
And it’s just like you, to think of others, Sherrie. To give. To learn. To teach.
Our friendship continues, beyond time and space. Blessing and growing and continuing in the Goodness it began with, so many decades ago :))
Next post: Making Peace . . . On Life ~ And Death ~ Part III ~ Putting the whole experience together, making peace with not just the reality of Sherrie’s passing, but the Celebration of Life we all deserve, no matter which side of the Veil we exist on . . .
For insights into the lives of horses, please visit Dawn’s sister blog: Soul Horse Ride
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