Setting the Pace at ValleyOrtho: “Kicked by a Horse? Call Dr. George!”

Brad Palmer didn’t know much about being a rancher when he moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1995. A runner from a small town in Illinois, Brad came here on an invitation from a friend to run the Basalt Half Marathon and never left.

He quickly became immersed in the local running community, and Brad, a strict vegan, ran nearly every day. In a profile published by the Glenwood Post in 2005, it describes Brad as an ultra-competitive but integral, supportive part of the running community.

As luck would have it, after moving to the valley, Brad befriended a man who was caretaker for the 153-acre Triple H Quarter Horse Ranch in Carbondale. He recommended Brad to the owners when it was time for a new caretaker, and he has lived and worked on the ranch ever since. He is responsible for the care of the land, the buildings and eight quarter horses that also call the ranch home.

Brad had no experience with horses before he took the job and he doesn’t ride. “I like my feet on the ground,” he says. But he clearly has affection for his herd, perhaps with exception of one, a philly named Luna.

In late December 2023, as Brad was exiting a fence, Luna “came out of nowhere” and inexplicably kicked Brad, connecting her back hoof with the lateral side of Brad’s right knee. “It went all cattywampus,” he said, describing the injury. Friends took him to the Valley View emergency room where he was seen by Dr. Marco Salmen, who diagnosed Brad with a detached ACL and a severe bone bruise. A subsequent MRI showed tears of the ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Luna’s kick to the knee took Brad out the local running races and he found it difficult to adjust to a sedentary life. It took four weeks for the swelling in Brad’s right knee to decrease enough for ValleyOrtho’s Dr. Christopher George to take him to surgery and get Brad on the path to recovery. During the surgery his ACL was reconstructed and the tears in the meniscus cleaned up. The MCL had healed to the point that it did not need to be addressed surgically. “It was a very successful surgery,” says Brad. “Dr. George was reassuring and told me ‘you’re going to get back to running.” His brother and nephew helped Brad recuperate and feed the horses – even Luna.

At his log home on the ranch, Brad has a variety of first place race certificates hanging on the wall. He mentions some of his favorites running events including the Thursday Night Run Club at Independence Run and Hike and the Strawberry Shortcut. 2024 was the first time he’s missed the Shortcut in 24 years, but Brad promises to be back next year.

He credits the work of Dr. George and physical therapy with Linda Geiss at Valley View Rehabilitation in Carbondale for his textbook recovery. Five months in, Brad is now back to running four to five miles daily often on the Carbondale Bike Path or up and down White Hill.

“Patience is the hardest part,” he says. “Not doing too much but not doing too little.”

This is not the first time Brad has visited Valley View for care, and it’s not the first time he has been kicked by a horse. “The last one got me right in the gonad, and believe it or not, that was not as bad as this.”

As for the horse that kicked him in the ACL, Luna?

“I’ll forgive her,” says Brad, “when I run a marathon.”