Thursday 29th of July 2021
Pumbaa Goess-Saurau

8 Ways To Stay Occupied When Out Of Action

Our injured ‘Gap Yah Eventer’, Pumbaa Goess-Saurau, offers up this well-researched advice for those currently having an unplanned ‘break’ (excuse the pun) from horses due to an injury.

Pumbaa’s road to recovery has been thwarted by both pain and boredom following her terrifying car crash in Austria where she had a very lucky escape. We wish the injured amongst you, who like Pumbaa are missing the start of the eventing season, a very speedy recovery.


Snapped by Clare Stringer at Belton, May 2015

Snapped by Clare Stringer at Belton, May 2015

“Equestrians are made of steely stuff, a well-known fact amongst our community. However, another slightly less fortunate fact is that life with horses is a safety hazard. Aches and pains are the norm in our profession, and personally I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if I were told we were the sole source of funding for chiropractors and physios everywhere.

Unfortunately sometimes aches and pains are the least of our worries. Breaks, bad sprains, operations of various sorts are, even for us, problems that require more than the trusty stiff upper lip and a strong drink. What is needed here is rest. Yes, ‘rest’, that word met with much dread and trepidation by horse folk everywhere – ‘I know I have a broken leg and severe concussion but whatever do you mean I can’t muck out 10 boxes, ride 35 horses and skip merrily backwards and forwards across the yard a 100 times tomorrow?!’

Currently my collarbone is pinned in place and my shoulder is having a pain party, plus last year I had my ACL ligament operated on, so I am now an absolute pro in the broken department (even if I do say so myself). So, taking my off games experience and putting it to good use I give you 8 ways to make your time out of the saddle a little more bearable.

For many of us the mere thought of being housebound is somewhat of a ridiculous notion: the horses are outside, the yard is outside…you do the math. But sometimes needs must, mother/husband/child/irritating-but-with-best-interests-at-heart friend has you trussed up with the door locked and the car key has ‘mysteriously’ disappeared, meaning that you really do have to accept your fate and put your feet up.


1. Netflix – The saving grace

It may be monthly but I can promise you, you will never spend a better £5.99 in your life. People complain about the lack of film choice on this sight but we’re not there for films. Oh no. Films last an hour or 2, you are an invalid now and must think accordingly: boredom in the long-term. Your answer? Series Box Sets and preferably one that already has multiple seasons. The possibilities are endless; you want laughter? Orange Is The New Black. History? Reign. Suspense? Making A Murderer. Drama? Gossip Girl. Crime? Prison Break. Supernatural activity with actors pretending to be teenagers? The Vampire Diaries. I could go on but I think you get the point…if you’ve got several hours to kill this is how to do it.

2. Books – They’re really not that scary

They also require opening to be read. Often is the case that books are bought with good intention, unfortunately said intentions are never realized. I can promise you though, it will be worth it. Reading offers an escape, it lets your imagination take the wheel and your mind wander to a different place – something that is crucial when you’re living in pain (or you’re bored out of your senses). Jilly Cooper, you’re a hero (Mr. Campbell-Black, marry me (please.)).

3. Phone A Friend – Chris Tarrant would be proud

If my disaster stories have taught me nothing else, the one thing I can take away from them is that human beings are actually pretty fantastic. As the saying goes, ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’…currently you are that friend (don’t be British about it, just accept that you need some help).

Friends, family, whoever it may be that you’re close to, they are the answer to your problems. Half of the battle with being broken is maintaining morale, and the way you’re going to do that is by smiling…and the way you’re going to do that is by surrounding yourself by people who make you laugh.

N.B. they might even let you FaceTime with their pet iguana and if that doesn’t make you smile then I don’t know what will…

4. Paperwork – now is ‘tomorrow’

‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. As a professional procrastinator this is a favorite phrase of mine (though perhaps not of my mother’s). That being said, desperate times call for desperate measures. Now is ‘tomorrow’ and for that pile of paperwork on your desk to finally disappear. It’ll kill a few of the many hours you’re trying to waste so get on it.

5. Cook – also not that scary

It’s fair to say that cooking is like Marmite in terms of the love/hate scale, or rather it’s like singing, as X Factor repeatedly shows us; you’ve either got, or you don’t. Obviously it depends on your level of mobility but cooking or baking is another great way to make yourself busy…particularly if you can find some poor soul to palm off the products of your domesticity to.

6. Physio – let’s get stretchy

I’m no doctor so I can’t say that this will be the right thing for everyone, but finding yourself a good physio can be life changing – that sounds dramatic but when you’re in a pain-killer induced haze every little thing that pushes you further in the right direction seems completely life altering.

Choose you’re physio with care though, they don’t all understand the insanity that comes as part of the equestrian package. You need someone who will work with you when they realise you’ll be getting back on a horse even if your leg/arm/head is only partially attached, rather than someone who goes a little pale and then starts to stutter out excuses. ‘You can’t do that’ is not a phrase the equine community take kindly to, so find someone who doesn’t use it.

7. A Sit Down Hobby – yes, they exist

I see you now eyeing this article with skepticism, but please bear with me. Equestrians are very active people, over active some may even say so I can see that the prospect of doing something while not having to move may seem distressing. Look at it like this; when you’re riding you’re sat down, so it’s the same thing just minus the adrenalin, excitement and (hate to be the one to point out the obvious) horse.

Tapestry, knitting, painting…chess if there’s someone else around. I now see you laughing, but laugh all you want because it works. As athletes we like to see progress and feel a sense of achievement, if you can find yourself something to do that isn’t strenuous but provides you with a challenge you’re on to a winner.

8. Pony petting – no zoo necessary

I’ve already mentioned that keeping your morale up is crucial to recovery, and there is no one better to put a smile on your face than your favourite four-legged friend. In America (where else?) horses are actually used to give therapy, they’re very relaxing animals and seeing your little darlings will give you the motivation to push through the pain on your road to recovery.

I wanted to give you 10 ways to fight boredom, but if I’m being entirely honest I don’t have any other suggestions.

I won’t lie: it’s tough, at times you can’t see an end to it all and you find yourself sinking into a bit of a hole. But with these 8 things you should be able to keep smiling and active, and for me that’s the best way to deal with your recovery. Please remember that there are always people around you who will be willing to help, and that just sometimes depending on others IS okay. To all those currently out of action, my heart goes out to you – I know how you feel! But keep fighting (and smiling), you CAN do it!”

Pumbaa x

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