Column: Horseback riding can quickly become a giant pain in the rear end

I recently discovered (the hard way) that horseback riding at a guest ranch can quickly become a giant pain in the rear end. I was one of six individuals who had booked a five-day, four-night stay on July 6-10 at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch in Northern California.

That ranch is owned by the Cottengim family of Burney and it is located between Burney and Fall River Mills.

As a guest at the ranch, you have superb accommodations, gourmet meals three times a day, excellent personal service from the staff and a choice of all types of outdoor activities.

Those choices include such things in the summertime as:

Fishing at Hat Creek, the Pitt River, Baum Lake and Lake Brittan, an 18-hole golf course at Fall River Mills, hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, horseback riding, playing horseshoes, all types of card games, lying on the beach and swimming at Lake Brittan and just goofing off.

On our trip, we arrived about mid-afternoon on July 6, checked in and then, just kicked back and relaxed for the rest of the day.

On July 7, four of us drove to the golf course, where the other three played nine holes while I drove one of the carts and served as their "ball spotter."

Then, July 8 arrived.

That day will live in infamy.

On that morning, we were scheduled to take a one-hour horseback ride to Baum Lake for a combination of trout fishing and a lakeside, gourmet lunch.

Seems innocent enough, doesn't it?

Well, not necessarily so.

We left the guest ranch about 10 a.m. There were a total of eight horseback riders: the six of us, plus Linda Cottengim and her grown son Todd, our tour guides.

This one-hour ride is on an old dirt road and a hiking trail through scrub oak, thick brush and lots of lava rock.

About half way to the lake, Linda decided to take a shortcut through some of the scrub oak trees.

She is a short person and was riding a small horse. I was behind her on the largest horse in the group.

On that shortcut, she went under a tree that had some dead branches hanging down. She ducked under the branches and kept going. I saw that the branches were going to hit my head, so I decided to break them off, for myself and for all of the riders behind me.

As my horse approached the branches, I leaned to the left, reached out with my right hand and broke off the branches.

When I did, all hell broke loose.

The noise spooked the horse and it bolted off to the right. I was leaning to the left and when it bolted, the horse threw me off balance, backwards.

My right foot came out of the stirrup and I fell off the horse with my left foot still stuck in the left stirrup.

When I fell, I hit my tailbone on a lava rock, bounced and hit another rock.

My foot somehow came out of the stirrup and the horse ran off.

I must have momentarily passed out from the pain because the next thing I knew, there were three people standing over me while I was thrashing around on the ground from the awful pain.

After a period of time, I shook off most of the pain, got up, dusted myself off, got back on the horse and finished riding to the lake.

By the time we got there, my rear-end was beginning to get swollen, it hurt like hell and I had a bruise the size of a half dollar on my rear end.

To make a long, sad, story short, the bruised area continued to get bigger and blacker and to hurt worse and worse.

I returned to the ranch by vehicle and spent the rest of the day and all that night in bad pain.

We left the guest ranch early Sunday afternoon and returned to Carson City.

I was in agony all Sunday night. My entire rear end had completely turned jet black and was very badly swollen.

On Monday, I went to the doctor and was X-rayed. The X-rays confirmed that I had a broken tailbone.

Yep, a broken tailbone.

If you ever want severe pain, try breaking your tailbone. That lends a brand new meaning to the word "pain."

Unfortunately, the doctors can do nothing other than give me pain pills.

I am taking extra strong pain pills every four hours, around the clock, plus using ice packs on the injured area.

Nothing seems to make the pain subside or go away.

It hurts to stand, sit, bend, kneel, squat, lie on my back, lie on my front, lie on my right side, lie on my left side, put on socks and shoes, get into or out of bed, lie on the couch, sit in a chair, or get into or out of my pickup.

I have a world record-sized, jet-black bruise that extends from my waist to the bottom of my rear end, clear across my entire backside.

One of the doctors told me it will take months to recover from this accident.

Through the years, I have had a fractured wrist, dislocated fingers, broken nose, torn ligaments, etc. but nothing can compare to this constant high level of pain. There are times that I just want to shout, it hurts so bad.

Do not break your tailbone. It is not fun. I know from personal experience.

Since my injury, I have also discovered the following sad facts of life:

-- Of the many dozens and dozens of people who I have asked, no one will rub my rear end to make the pain go away. Not one of them!

-- Norm Budden and Bob "Slick" McCulloch have given me the nicknames of "Tex" and "Tex-Ass."

-- Budden and McCulloch have also volunteered to give me a handful of quarters so I can practice riding the kids' mechanical horse in front of K-Mart.

-- Barb Henderson of Las Vegas has given me the new Native American name of "Broken Ass."

-- Jannie Dunn at X-Pressions went into hysterical laughter while I was telling her how I got hurt.

-- Elaine McGee bought me a seat cushion and can not stop laughing.

-- Barry Smith of the Nevada Appeal said I now have a new way of "getting my ass in a sling."

-- Dawn Rossi of Sacramento told me that I now have something worse than a crack in my ass.

-- Various clerks and receptionists can not stop giggling while waiting on me.

-- I have been ridiculed on live television by my own son, Jim, for breaking my tailbone.

-- I am afraid for anyone to touch any part of my body because I hurt so much everywhere, all of the time.

-- Bob Kennedy of Kennedy Books told me that "We are praying for you" and I told him "Pray this!"

-- Many, many people, all over town, have come up to me and have asked me to show my rear end to whomever is with them, who has heard about my accident. I have probably "mooned" half of Carson City, so far. No kidding.

-- Most of the folks at the Nevada Appeal have looked at my rear end.

-- Finally, my rear end might be seriously wounded right now, but I will recover.

Then I am going to get even with everyone, big time, for thinking that a broken tailbone is funny.

Until then, my butt hurts.


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