As of December 15th, I’ve been, for all practical purposes, under house arrest.
It’s not what you think, even if you think twice. No, I haven’t been naughty, and no, I don’t have Covid.
I’m recovering from some reconstructive surgery on my leg.
This is something that I’ve kicked around for years (sorry, the puns just fall into place.) However, I’ve always shied away from having anything done to my residual limb.
After all, for a guy who’s missing half a leg, I do alright. If you’ve been with me at a clinic, you know that I regularly jump onto and off of moving carriages, long line, and ground drive horses.
In my personal life, I have no problem out-skiing my T.A.B. (Technically Able-Bodied) friends. I teach and compete in skydiving (though, to be honest, gravity does most of the work there.)
All of that said, my leg situation is far from perfect. In the past couple years, I’ve noticed that I’ve been self-limiting many of my activities. I’m not out on the mountain bike the way I used to be, I delegate tasks that involve walking, and take advantage of every motorized form of transport that I can.
All of this became really apparent when I started working with video in the past couple years. In reviewing videos, I’ve seen myself walking like a gimp. That’s just not me.
No Easy Answer
I really thought I’d solve this issue by having a new leg built. The leg I’ve been walking is close to 10 years old, and, as we all know our bodies change over 10 years time. I figured going back to the drawing board to update the kicker would get me back on track.
Enter (and exit) Grumpy the Stump
Meet my friend, Grumpy the Stump. He’s the crotchety old man that lives inside the socket of my prosthetic leg. He’s comprised of chapped, swollen scar tissue, some boney bits, and a mass of neuromas.
Old Grumpy is not much of a companion. Most of the time he lives quietly, like Gollum at the bottom of a hole. He only occasionally comes out to share commentary on life in such a way as to seed people’s nightmares.
However, he makes his presence known when it comes to fitting prosthetics. He’s a bit like the princess and a pea. I guess I can’t blame him. If I had my face stuck in a sweaty sheath for 18 hours a day, I’d be pretty raunchy too.
The long story told short is that I’ve been trying to rebuild my leg for the past few years, and never having success. Grumpy the Stump has been the main reason behind the failures. So Grumpy had to go.
Under The Knife
On the 14th of December, in the year of the Covid, I checked into a hotel that used to be a notorious prison, and took a room on the 13th floor (not kidding!) That put me right next to Mass General Hospital where I’d check in with a surgical team at 5:30 the following morning.
Grumpy got a face lift (more like a face erasure). The surgery was a combination of orthopedic, muscle relocation, neural restructuring and plastic surgery. Because, if you’re going to go in, you might as well go all-in!
This project, frankly, scares the hell out of me. I’ve spent the past 15 years integrating prosthetics into my life quite successfully. Now, I’m risking everything I’ve got going right to hopefully create something better.
Now I’m at home, on the mend after the surgery.
The big thing is that I have to stay away from the ponies for a while. Actually, I have to stay away from just about everything that I’d normally do so all those bones, muscles, skin, and most importantly nerves can settle into their new form.
It’s not like the scenes from Rocky, Hoosiers, or any of those inspirational comeback movies. It’s more like… a guy sitting around in his pajamas, trying to remain relatively quiet (cue hold music here.)
This Is Your Chance!
This is good news for you because, you could have some of my undivided attention for an hour (or two!) This would be a perfect time to hit me up for some of that one-on-one coaching you’ve been meaning to schedule.
We can share a “year in review” session about the things you did with your ponies this season. If you’ve got pictures and video, I’ll look that stuff over with you and let you know what I see.
Then I can help you make a plan for next year. We’ll set some goals and develop focus in your training for 2021. You’ll get the advice you need, tailored specifically to your unique situation.
All of this, while you’re being infinitely entertained by me, while I’m on significant doses of controlled substances!
Really, what could pass the time better?
Getting On Your Page
I know that these sessions can be like standing in front of a snowblower of information. It can be hard to take it all in at once. So I’ll set up your own private coaching page here on CoachmansDelight.com.
That page will have a recording of your coaching, plus any notes or other useful info to accomplish your goals with your pony. You can even ask those questions that you forgot to ask. When we have followup sessions, we’ll add them to your personal coaching page.
Do It Now
If you want all of this awesomeness in your life, all you have to do is sign up for Personal Coaching with me. Once you’ve purchased a block of coaching, drop me an e-mail to organize a time for us to get together online.
We’ll Zoom, then BOOM, you’ll have a big knowledge bomb dropped on you like the Dr Strangelove of carriage driving! (wait, I’m not sure that’s the best analogy 🤔)
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
One Step Further
I’ll even go one step further. If you don’t feel like at the end of an hour of coaching that you got your money’s worth out of that hour, I’ll refund your tuition. Really, I’m that confident that I can help you, even through a computer screen.
Greetings from Nova Scotia Canada.
You are an inspiration to me and I am wondering whether you might be able to help me given your recent experience which I do hope is going to create a better existence for you.
I have had 4 ortho surgeries in the last 4 years and I’m not coming back well from the last one. I do hold out hope. My horse is currently being off property leased at a schooling barn where they are riding training her ( I didn’t want her to stand around doing nothing for another year ) and I am hoping I will be able to get back to working her in the fall of 2021. She is 5 years old, I started her as a driving horse but also would like to ride from time to time.
My plan when I get her back is to give her and me a refresher in driving. My goal is to pleasure drive and take part in local CDE. Can you help me with a plan for her and me?
I hope to hear from you thank you.
Thanks for the note. It sounds like you’ve laid really good plans for your mare. I’d be happy to help you make a plan, and keep her on track.
This is just the kind of thing that the online lessons are perfect for! Drop an email when you’re ready to schedule a lesson.
I can not imagine such a surgery, although you sound in wonderful spirits. I know you have a lot of spirit and grit so I imagine as soon as the Docs give you a GO you will take it on! They will have to hold you back with the reins. God bless and I hope for a speedy recovery for you
Suzanne Avery. Kansas
Hope your feeling better soon! Hope your keeping a journal, I think you should write a book. You are so talented and it looks like writing is just another thing you do very well. 2021 is a good year for recovering, not much happening anywhere.
Hopefully this summer we can do some driving. Autry is doing so well and we Thank you for all your help. Just goes to show “Old dogs can learn new tricks”
Looking forward to seeing you, John and Autry again really soon!
Andy I feel your frustration of not being able to go outside and do “horse things”. I broke my ankle and fibula, not horse related, and now I’m 6 weeks non weight bearing! Its summer here in Australia and now the COVID restrictions have been lifted I can’t get about and do things. There is a graded dressage day coming up in February and I can’t drive in it! As you said originally the thought of sitting around for a while has lost it appeal and I’m getting fidgety and want to get out! Many offers to be taken out in a carriage but I can’t get into one I never realised you had a prosthetic leg. I hope you recover well and can mobilise even better .
6 weeks is a long, long time! I hope you are getting toward a good outcome. It’s frustrating to have to sit on the sidelines!
Maybe you can scribe for the event in February. That’s a great experience.
Yes I had thought about scribing.
Happy New Year, Andy, thanks for sharing your story. You are a brave man ! I wish you all the very best this year – a speedy recovery and that the leg works out. Stay safe. All my very best wishes
Happy New Year to you as well Hardy. Always great to hear from you.
Thanks for the well wishes!
Glad you are getting Grumpy taken care of loved my lessons with you at Susquehanna Whips & Wheels clinics the cones classes were the best!!! Take care & have a very Merry Christmas!!!
Thank you for filling us in on your surgery. I pray you will have a full recovery and be back to being a physically active guy once again. Thank you for using this time to benefit others. I just love your lesson plans, online classes and great advice. You’re the best.
Thanks Wendy. It’s just a matter of time and waiting for things to heal up.
Hopefully I’ll get some more lesson plans together for you over the next month or two.
hope all goes well ,and get better soon
Wow Andy, I am sorry to hear that you are still having so much trouble with your leg. I hope this will put an end to it. Would happily take you up on the coaching thing if I was driving this winter. Have moved up to a decently going pair and would love your input.
Good to hear from you Leigh.
I’d love to see some pictures and video of the pair from the past seasons.
Wow. Long road Andy! Hopefully with your down time you have to heal, you will be back jumping into carriages and out of airplanes in no time. Best wishes for a healthy and speedy recovery!
Merry Christmas to you as well. Thanks for thoughts.
Good luck with your recovery — Drive On!
Healing wishes for a speedy and successful recovery from Australia. You truly are an inspiration and im looking forward to the new online classes you can write.
Thanks for the warm thoughts from Down Under .
Perhaps one day I’ll get down there and drive upside down with all of you there!
Wishing you a swift recovery & for Grumpy: a new lease on life
You were my inspiration for learning to drive.
Some 10+ years ago a friend talked me into auditing a clinic you taught at Vanity Fair Farm in IL.
I had no idea Driven Dressage existed & became a convert that day.
Marsha Marks & her Saint of a pony – Patches -took me from there.
But I did not have my own Driving horse until 2016.
That ‘s when my mini, Wascally Wabbit aka Bugs, joined my Herd of 3.
We have done one ADS CT, County Fair, three National Drives & numerous drives with my local Club.
Wish I had video to submit.
Maybe in 2021?
Thanks for sharing your story (though, I imagine there was a lot more in between that first clinic and now.)
I’m glad you’re having fun with your pony. I’ll look forward to seeing him sometime.
Sending healing prayers. You don’t remember me, from Granville, Oh. We would hold a driving clinic once a year. You were the person that made a difference. Thank you.
I do remember you, and I miss coming out to Granville. I always had such a good time there!
Thanks for the healing thoughts.
Wishing you a great and speedy recovery.
I really didn’t do much this year as there were not many places to go. But I will see if I can get some video done now and would love to hear what you have to say about four ( or more ) black ponies. I switch them around sometimes to get the ” best” combination. We now have seven.
Because, you can’t have just one!
I’m looking forward to seeing pictures and video soon.
Best wishes for a speedy, relatively pain free recovery. Take all the time needed, then take some more, before going back to the critters. I won’t bother you with questions as things are working out alright. Take care, Merry Christmas.
I hope the miracles of modern medicine will make doing all that you do more comfortable! Hopefully Old Grumpy will need a new name after healing.
I’ll take you up on your offer soon. Been gathering video and clarifying my questions.
Have a holiday filled with good friends, better pharmaceuticals and a comfortable couch. I enjoyed “the detectorists” on BBC acorn channel. The slowest car chase on film. And the best season finale final shot.
I’m looking forward to having a chat with you.
I’ll also check out the series you mentioned. Looks like fun!
Wow! Andy! You are amazing and an inspiration…. Having a coaching with you would be awesome…. but not sure I have enough information of my “pony” and I to be useful… but I will get to work at see what I have! Although… I am happy to say we have have been improving our driving little by little!
Wishing you a wonderful and healing holiday season!
Ah, Andy. Were your ears burning recently when I was telling someone the leg-falls-from-sky-dive story?
Well, here’s to retiring Grumpy….shall we have a contest to name his replacement? I’m wishing you good drugs and a good recovery. Hugs from me and my….well, you know…..my ass. Come see us in SC in 2021!
Thanks for the note Bonny. I think you have more information about your pony than you think. I think once we knock the cap off, we’ll find a fountain of things to work on!
Dear Andy, thank you for sharing your personal challenging journey with us, your audience. Your bravery, forthrightness, courage and well authored and amusing note is admirable! Thank you for offering us the opportunity to work with you while you recover. I look forward to signing in soon! Best wishes for happy holiday season.. Keep up your therapy!
Awe, shucks. ☺️
Thanks for your support. It means the world to me!
Andy, you’re one tough and resilient guy. I know you’ll do well with this new reconstruction. Wishing you the best.
Merry Christmas and happy new year. Regards Jean
Is this the one and the same Jean from Back Stretch Veterinary in Sherborn all those years ago?