State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer
State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer
May 13, 2013

Dan Muhlbauer can smile about it now. Just not laugh.

The state representative from Manilla, a cattleman, suffered three broken ribs when a 4-year-old quarter horse named Eber bucked him off during morning chores on Friday, May 3.

"Right now, our lots are all muddy so we jump on a horse and we ride through the cattle lots checking for ones that need to be pulled out of the lots, ones that might be sick," he said.

Muhlbauer, 54, said the "green-broke" Eber, named after one of actor Russell Crowe's horses in the movie "Gladiator," acted a little jumpy as the work progressed.

"He want into a small little buck while I was on him," Muhlbauer said. "I fell out of the saddle onto the horse's neck, lost control."

Muhlbauer landed on cement feed bunks.

"I landed right on it with all my force on my back," Muhlbauer said.

His son David, 28, ran over, thinking Muhlbauer had broken his back. The verdict shortly at Manning Regional Healthcare Center: three broken ribs on his left side. The hospital released Muhlbauer with pain pills, telling him the remedy is time. Blowing up balloons and breathing heavy is supposed to help by keeping the lungs moving, Muhlbauer said.

He's not taken the advice on balloons.

"I just talk a lot," Muhlbauer joked.

The one big problem, Muhlbauer said, is he can't laugh. Hurts too much. As he watched TV on recent night with family members - a good Western, Oscar Award-winning "Django Unchained" no less - they couldn't resist, and had Muhlbauer chuckling a little too hard.

"They got me laughing and about put me to the floor on my knees," Muhlbauer said. "I want upstairs. That's it. I'm done."

Did he shoot Eber?

"No, he's a good horse," Muhlbauer fired back. "We're riding him right along. He's coming along better."

Muhlbauer said he has 10 horses at the cattle operation now, all of which he has trained, except Eber. He sent that quarter horse to friend for breaking.

"This is the first one we took somewhere else just to get it started because we're so busy we don't have time for that," Muhlbauer said. "We run them through the cattle lots and he'll make a really good horse."

Muhlbauer, who attended the Carroll Chamber of Commerce legislative forum at Des Moines Area College's local campus Saturday and plans to be at the Statehouse Tuesday, said he recuperated at home last week. He had a phone on the ready in case House leaders needed the conservative Democrat for crucial or deciding votes.

He expects to be fully recovered in six to eight weeks. Muhlbauer will be doing some tractor work with his family's 2,000 acres of row crops in addition to finishing up legislative work in coming weeks.

"The biggest thing I've found is you do not laugh, cough or sneeze," Muhlbauer said. "If you stay away from those, you're all right."

The accident occurred just one day before the Kentucky Derby, the most prestigious horse race in the world, a fact not lost on Muhlbauer.

"I was sitting in my easy chair in the house, watching the Kentucky Derby," Muhlbauer said, noting that he felt more empathy for the jockeys.

This is Muhlbauer's second horse-related injury. A neighbor's horse bucked Muhlbauer off, breaking his jaw in three places, about 20 years ago.

With the new battle scars does Muhlbauer feel like a true cowboy?

"Of course, anytime you can break some ribs," Muhlbauer joked.