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Broken bones and naughty ponies

Progressive dairyman Editor Jenna Hurty Published on 19 January 2016

That stupid pony. How dare he buck me off for asking for a flying lead change. Covered in dirt and too mad to notice the searing pain in my left shoulder, I jumped back on that pony, kept jumping and made him do that flying lead change after the jump.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes later when I tried to dismount that I realized something was wrong. I couldn’t support myself with my left arm or lift it over my head. In fact, I couldn’t really use my left arm at all.



That happened Friday afternoon, and I walked around like that all weekend. I had myself and everyone else convinced I’d just pulled a muscle.

At first, my mother believed me. At 13, I guess I had a higher pain tolerance than my mother realized, and I was adamant it was just a pulled muscle. But thankfully, my mom was a little smarter than I was, so when Monday morning rolled around and I hadn’t improved at all, my mother became skeptical and took me in to see a doctor. It’s a good thing she did too because, as it turned out, I’d broken my collarbone. I’d been so set on my own self-diagnosis I’d failed to see the truth: I was badly injured.

But how often do we do that? I know I do it quite often. I get an idea in my head and run with it, too blinded by my vision to see any warning signs that pop up. Or sometimes I’m so set on how I’ve always done things I can’t see a better opportunity in front of me.

Over time, and thanks to some hard lessons, I’ve learned how important it is to pause every so often and do an honest evaluation of the situation. I make myself answer the questions I’d rather avoid. Questions like: Is there a better way to do this? Do I really have all the information and expertise I need, or do I need to ask for help? Is there another perspective I need to consider?

If you haven’t done this recently with your youngstock program, I challenge you to do so. This issue covers a number of areas to consider, from navel care on day one (Navel warfare: The first battle to win for newborn calves) to new research on feeding forages to pre-weaned calves (Feeding forage to calves: Is it necessary?).


Perhaps you’re already past that and are considering completely redoing your youngstock program. If that’s the case, then I recommend you check out Joao H. C. Costa’s article on the benefits of housing calves in pairs (Best time to pair-house calves? As soon as possible) or learn about Pankratz Dairy’s new calf facilities (Pankratz family focus on youngstock positions farm for future).

But whatever you do, don’t be like me after I fell off that pony. Don’t be too proud and stubborn to ask for help. After all, while having a broken collarbone for most of the summer wasn’t a whole lot of fun, it would’ve been worse if I hadn’t visited a doctor when I did.  PD

Jenna Hurty
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