Eight days after Celia Schnacky was thrown from her horse at Goddard Park after a dog frightened it, she is well on the mend and, in fact, plans to be back in her classroom at East Greenwich High School come Thursday.
But it will be a while before she can ride her horse, Hawk, again, as she has done twice weekly for the past 10 years.
“I’m a lot better,” Schnacky said Sunday. “I was really, really lucky.”
The incident took place late morning Saturday, Dec. 21, on the bridle trail south of the boat launch at Goddard Park.
“We had heard someone calling and whistling for a dog,” Schnacky recounted. She was riding with a friend and they were descending a hill. The dog appeared at the top of the hill.
“I yelled, ‘Bad dog, bad dog!’ I don’t know if it was his size or the speed – it just scared Hawk and he spun around and started running back up the hill,” she said.
It caused Schnacky to fall and she ended up in the hospital with a variety of ailments, the worst being breaks to her collar bone. She had surgery on that and her collar bone is now augmented with titanium plates and screws. She will need physical therapy for her neck.
“My cracked ribs seem to be healing,” Schnacky said. They aren’t bothering her like they were initially, with every breath she took. Her shoulder blade aches a bit, she said, and she has a black eye, stitches in an earlobe and a broken cheekbone.
Still, she says, “I’m expecting to make a complete and rapid recovery.”
Schnacky said she loves all animals, including dogs (she has one). But dogs off leash on the bridle paths present a danger – it’s also against the law. Enforcement, however, is minimal. According to the parks division of the Department of Environmental Management, only six citations have been given out to owners of dogs off leash at Goddard Park in 2013.
Schnacky said she sees dogs off leash all the time when she rides there. Often, she said, when she mentions to the dog’s owner that the dog should be on a leash, the owner will respond with something like, “Oh, it’s all right, he’s gentle.”But, she said, “horses don’t like surprises. They like to know what to expect.”
Schnacky said she isn't sure when she'll be able to ride again, but she plans to keep riding at Goddard Park.
"I don’t want that part of my life to be over because that’s my joy," she said. "I’m willing to accept the risk. I have to live my life."