Rodeo gaucho

La Pampa, Argentina. So much dirt that it gets stuck in your ears, up your nose, and even in between your teeth. This particular day, being tied up in a lasso and dragged across the ground by a 7ft charging horse, the dirt got to a lot more places than that.

I was out in a dusty field tending to a suffering cow with my sister and el peon, or farm hand. Suddenly el peon wrapped the lasso around my arms. It was in that second that his horse, to which the lasso was tethered, got spooked and charged off. The lasso uncoiled, tightening under my chest and pulling me to the ground. I landed face up—and I was off!

I was dragged around the whole field, even going over the sick cow at one point! When the horse finally stopped having its fun with me, I jumped up, undid the lasso, and waved over to el peon and my sister. My sister was in tears, el peon was on his knees apologising, and I was laughing at the whole situation.

Every time I tell this story, I’m confronted with expressions of disbelief and concern. I always feel like they overreact that. However, I have encountered that reaction so often that I have started thinking: 'I am lucky to be alive. What a terrible thing happened.'

There is a procedure called 'debriefing' which is used when someone has gone through a traumatic experience with intense fear, loss and / or suffering. The goal of such a is to avoid post traumatic stress disorder. This takes place in just one session composed of seven separate steps. The seven steps are the introduction, the facts, thoughts and impressions, emotional reactions, normalisation, planning for the future, and disengagement. However, a study examining randomized controlled trials of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) versus no treatment conditions found that CISD had no effect, or may even have had a slightly negative effect for post traumatic stress symptoms. Why? Every time you take out a memory to think or talk about it, you change it and the memory gets altered slightly. If it was non-traumatic to being with, someone debriefing the you could assign meaning to the memory making it traumatic. Kala, el peon, and every other listener of my story assigned meaning to my experience, causing me to fear and stress about my one-on-one with the lasso. Only people that are clearly distressed should receive help. Others, like me, should be left to think of the ‘traumatic’ experience as they see fit; in my case, a great story.