I Won’t Let the Fear of Injury Keep Me Off My Horse

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

Share this article:

Share article via email
a summer break | Main graphic for column titled

When I look back at all the physical activities I used to do growing up, it’s hard to believe I was never scared of injuring myself.

I can no longer imagine myself in the thick of a physical soccer game without also thinking about getting hurt. Back then, I was constantly being injured, and the bruises I had were unreal.

Although I knew something was likely wrong, I didn’t know what it was, or that I had a high risk of severe injury and I’d have a difficult time healing because of it. When I was finally diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), my perspective changed.

Recommended Reading
a summer break | Main graphic for column titled

EDS Is a Part of Me, but It Doesn’t Control Me

Falls sometimes happen

I’m so grateful I can ride and work with horses. I even work two part-time jobs in addition to another full-time job to be able to do so. While my EDS makes this physically taxing and exhausting, the trade-off is worth it.

A few weeks ago, I fell off my mare, Cherry. She’s usually very laid-back, and one of the reasons I bought her as a competition horse was because of how safe she is to ride. Still, falls sometimes happen, even on the best of horses. I wear an air vest for safety when I jump or ride cross-country, and it provides great protection.

I wasn’t injured in the fall, but I was scared to ride cross-country again.

Cherry has been rehabbing from injury for almost 18 months, and the same day the veterinarian cleared her to go back to work last year, I shattered my finger, resulting in six screws and a plate in my right hand.

It had been nearly two years since Cherry and I had last run a horse trial, which consists of dressage, stadium and show jumping, and cross-country. A good event horse loves getting out and galloping during cross-country, and Cherry is no exception. She was excited for our first run back — unfortunately, a little too excited. When I asked her to slow down, she got upset, and I fell.

Finding our footing

I wasn’t worried about getting back on her, and I’ve been riding her at home without any trouble or fear. But I did worry about going back to cross-country, because I knew she’d be excited. And with EDS, I know I could be injured, which scares me. Last weekend, I was so scared of getting hurt that I got sick to my stomach.

Of course, Cherry got sassy and I got scared. A friend hopped on her for me to help settle her down while I took some deep breaths. I reminded myself that I’m a capable rider and that I have a great horse that needs me to trust her to do her job well and not stress about every little thing.

Despite dreading going back out and running a course, I did it. Yes, I can be stubborn, but I kept telling myself I could do it, and that Cherry wanted to do her best for me. I managed to silence my fear of being injured, and after a moment or two, we were on our way. By the time we reached the halfway point, I realized I was no longer just trying to breathe and was actually remembering why I love this sport so much.

I will not let EDS hold me back or get in the way of what I want to do, if I can help it.


Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Deb avatar


This was a great story about Cherry and her owner. I enjoyed it and it wasn’t too long jut uplifting.

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

Karen Del Vecchio

Thank you, Deb! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Tula Fitzgerald avatar

Tula Fitzgerald

So glad I came across your writing today. I shall be 74 next month and until 2010 I had no idea of what was causing such a mess of symptoms. I don’t recall all the things I stopped doing. Running, dancing, singing, swimming are just a few. After my 10 th surgery for torn ligaments my ortho told me I might have ED-hypermobility type . Now I have a good and informed primary care doctor and have improved my health considerably. As you shared, you were willing to get back on the horse, I’m ready to start moving again even if I do get hurt. I’m asking my doc to help me. You are an inspiration. Thank you.

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

Karen Del Vecchio

Thank you for the kind words, Tula! I appreciate the time you took to leave a comment. Best wishes to you as you "start moving" again!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.