Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ranch Mistakes Are Not Unusual, Just More Painful

Perhaps it’s the time of year or my advancing age, but I find myself lately reminiscing more. As they say, “Some of the best memories were not always the best experiences.” Such was my first major injury on Medicine Spirit Ranch.

It went something like this. The day was warm and welcoming. Trudy and daughter Katie were enjoying the lovely weather but chose to do so sitting.  I, anxious to practice horseback riding, saddled Doc, our gelding, andwished to enjoy the beauty of the day from his broad, well muscled back.

I rode Doc in a  pasture nearby the barn, enjoying the day and the ride, while Trudy and Katie sat chatting amiably on a nearby hill. Feeling I could manage a bit more adventure, I urged the horse into a trot and then on into a gallop and began to race across the pasture.

What I had not planned for was that Doc took issue with me bouncing up and down on his back. Mid-stride and without warning he bucked me out of the saddle and over the saddle-horn.  To my considerable surprise, I found myself riding along with my arms frantically searching  his head and neck for something to hold onto.

Realizing I would not long remain balanced in this precarious position and with Doc still loping through the pasture, I struggled to inch my backside down his neck and back over the saddle-horn. Trying to clear the saddle-horn felt akin to backing myself over the Himalayas. It just wasn’t going to happen. I don’t know how jockeys maintain their racing, butt-up, position but at least they have stirrups, something I  was sorely lacking at this point.

I recall slowly slipping sideways from his neck and having a flickering thought to look for a soft spot on the ground. After that I have no further recall.

I regained consciousness on the ground experiencing terrific pain in my neck, head, and right arm. My view from the ground was something like the picture below with me looking up into the flaring nostrils of my horse.

"I told you my back hurt."

“I told you my back hurt.”

It was only later when the vet found the calcium stones in Doc’s urethra which he referred to as beans that I understood the role his painful kidneys had played in my unplanned departure from his back. The pressure on his kidneys from back pressure must have hurt him and my bouncing up and down on his back had increased his discomfort still more. Doc had, under the circumstances, chosen to remove the source of his increased pain (me) although by doing so directly adding to my own.

I imagine Doc looking down at me on the ground thinking something like, “So didn’t I tell you my back was hurting when you foolishly decided to saddle me?”

As for me, my broken arm was later set, placed in a cast, and it ultimately healed. My jammed neck recovered as well. As for Doc following this event, he received twice yearly bean removals from his urethral sheath and urethra. Since that time he’s never bucked again, making both him and me happier.

In addition to the broken arm and jammed neck, I’ve encountered while working on the ranch a ruptured disc in my low back. This resulted from trying to man-haul trees from the creek (not my finest day or decision). This landed me in bed for six weeks. I’ve also been run over and rolled by an irate mama cow. Oh yes, and there was also the time a cow tossed me out of the cow pen. For comparison sake, I never in my long neurological career received a single injury while swinging my reflex hammer!

As mentioned earlier, this is now a great memory but was a bad experience!

Guest Worker Program at the Ranch


A new face temporarily resides at Medicine Spirit Ranch. No, Curly, our white Charolais bull didn’t get a black dye job nor did he lose 800 pounds. The Black Angus bull in the picture belongs to our good neighbors, Steve and Carla Allen and goes by the politically questionable name of “Sambo.”

The bull is staying for three months to breed with my heifers. Since they are first time heifers, we needed a small bull. Hope to sell the bred heifers for a good price in the spring.

The vernacular calls Sambo a “working” bull. Now guys, how much work can it really be? He has five heifers to breed and plenty of time in which to do it. No pressure here!

Lets see- he has plenty of grass or hay, range cubes, clean water, and five heifers. Does this really sound like work to you? And we refer to it as the “Life of Riley” but in reality it’s the “Life of Sambo.” He seems happy in his work.

We’il see how this breeding experiment works out next spring when the heifers are pregnancy checked. Meanwhile they will frolic in the most gorgeous weather we have seen in awhile.

I did a little research on Black Angus. They originally came from the shires of Aberdeen and Angus in northern Scotland. The cattle from Aberdeen were affectionately referred to as “hummlies” and those from Angus were called “Doddies.”

The transfer of Angus to the States began in 1873 when four Angus bulls were imported to Kansas. Over the next 12 years some 1,200 Angus beef cattle were imported and they have become one of the most popular breeds of cattle in the USA. They are especially prized in Japan.

They are naturally polled (meaning they have no horns) which for anyone like me who’s been bonked by a Longhorn’s horn sounds like a real plus.

Crashing Into The Digital Age


Thanks to Trudy’s cousin, Pud Kearns, I now have a website. With the release later this month of my book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales, it was important to increase my visibility. So much publicity these days is online whereas before it was done more by book signings and lectures.
To my amazement within the first 24 hours of a new FB page, over 100 likes came in. Wow, that’s an impressive reach- so many people and so quickly.
I look forward to answering questions and interacting with readers. And now I have a convenient and fast way to do it. This digital stuff is pretty impressive. Book out toward the end of the month. Hope to hear from you.