Saturday, April 3, 2010

We Meet Again...

....the ground and I.

It's been awhile, the last fall I had I believe was Fall 2002 (fall as in, the season that comes after Summer, before Winter....not..."the fall of 2002"). Although, that one was a doozy - a spook over a trail map dumped me off and resulted in a compression fracture in my spine.

This time we were trotting out very nicely, a nice ground eating, yet relaxed trot, and up ahead was a fallen tree. I notice my horse is eyeing said tree, but figure if we give it a nice berth, no problem. Well, that is, until a SPARROW or some other small bird made the bushes nearby rustle. Horse leaps to the right, I come reeling left but I almost pulled it together, and then she did another little leap which put me really off balance, and I try one last valiant time to hitch myself back up to the center, using my right leg...when I [accidentally] kick her (hard) in the rear end in the process of trying to get back on. This puts her into a sprinting gait I've never experienced in the saddle, let alone off to the left of the saddle! I try to holler "whoa!" but it did me no good, and I just decided to bail (or the decision was made for me, it's not exactly clear at this point). Of course, this all happened quickly, maybe 5 or 6 strides; it took way longer to write it and read it than for it to actually take place.

So as I am falling to the ground I decide I'm going to hang on to the reins, so she doesn't run away. Sure....everyone says not to do that because your horse will drag you and it's dangerous....but MY horse is DIFFERENT. ha. So I land on my left hip/back/butt/side area, then am quickly dragged over and ended up with dirt and grass stains all over my back, and right hip. I hung on to the reins for probably 3-4 strides before I realized "she's not stopping" and let go. THANK GOD I did, because as I let go of the reins I turn to look and Arabee had just fallen down as well. In retrospect, I realize she probably fell because as she was dragging me she had to pull pretty hard, then when I suddenly let go, she lost her footing. So essentially, I probably caused my horse to fall, and while at the time I felt somewhat vindicated "haha, I fall, you fall TOO" I quickly realized that she could've fallen ON TOP OF ME....and I felt badly that I likely caused her wreck, even if it was accidentally, which probably just scared her all the more of fallen trees and little birdies that make rustling noises, and she likely didn't learn anything other than that from the episode. But anyway - she quickly stood up and proceeded to gallop off towards the river. Uh oh.

I sit up after somewhat checking myself over (I'd fallen and been dragged across corn stubble....which really isn't the best stuff to get dragged across...although better than pavement!) and holler "Arabee!" and she stops and whinnies. She's confused and scared and lonely....I am her herd!!! So I get on my feet, call for her again, and whistle like I usually do when I'm calling her in from the pasture, and she begins to trot towards me. YAY! So she trots up to where I am and stands still, like she usually does, solid as a rock, almost as if nothing had ever happened. I check her over, no damage apparant...aside from some mud on her right side where she'd landed in the dirt. I put my foot in the stirrup to get on, and she jumped forward....I said whoa, then got back on, she was a little more jumpy than I first realized. And wow...I was stiff, and sore already, this wasn't going to be good!

So, we practiced "whoa" means WHOA, and then walked back home. I had a JUMPY horse! We were probably feeding off of each other, we both were uptight after the incident, she'd jump at a rustly noise, I'd get tense.....and so on. But we made it home. I never did work up the nerve to have her trot much, but we made it back and even in the barn lot she was still jumpy. So I walked her around, and turned and flexed her until she was calm, then got off and headed back to the house.

I'm not injured, at all. Maybe a little embarrassed to tell the story...but I figure it happens to everyone eventually if you ride long enough. I will say that those corn stalks were mighty hard on me....and I am pretty sure I have chunks embedded in my skin to prove it. My right thumb STINGS where the thumbnail was bent backwards, and the rest of my hand where I foolishly tried to hold my horse. And it wasn't really too much fun to ride home with dirt sandwiched between my butt and my breeches.....but no serious harm done. I'm glad I DID ride home instead of lead her in.

The thing of it is.....I'd have had a totally different story for you all had the fall not occurred. It was a GREAT ride (other than that one little blip that ruined the last portion...). I had awaken early to get a daylight ride start. Saddled up in the dark. Had a nice route planned out. Took her across territory she'd NEVER seen before, she braved things that she really, really was unsure about, and until that point I'd have said this was a really really good ride that was a good partnership building thing. Maybe it still was, I just hope that this one fall wasn't enough to shatter my confidence enough to make her lose her confidence in me.

Anyway, yesterday I'd posted about Arabee being off on one trotting diagonal pair. I was very cautious about tacking her up this morning, checking her over carefully. All 4 legs were somewhat stocked up from standing still over night, not hot...just stocked up. That went away after I walked her in her circles before mounting....but something wasn't right I trimmed that little chunk off her frog so there wasn't a pressure point (on her left hind) and that seemed to take the ouchiness away. The route I'd planned had minimal road/gravel - it was mostly dirt riding so I opted against booting since I hadn't had the chance to try them on her yesterday. But I will have her booted at least in front next ride, just to get her used to them if nothing else. Anyway, she showed no signs of that switching diagonal thing from yesterday and didn't seem off at all this morning during the ride, so maybe it was just a weird one-time thing. Anyway, I'm still keeping a close watch on her.

Regardless....I'm sending myself to boot camp, which I'd declared before I even left the house this morning..... It is a TIGHT squeeze to pour myself into these's hoping if I run/jog/walk every day from now until my first LD that I'll be able to comfortably zip my pants, besides the added fitness benefits.

So....I feel it is necessary to recap the most important lesson learned from my ride today:

If you fall, never try to hold onto the reins! No matter how good, loyal, well-trained, devoted, or (insert your adjective here_____) you think your horse is.

I'm just glad no serious damage was done, although it easily could have been!


Endurance Granny said...

Oh Nicole! I'm so glad this had a happy ending. Phebes almost hammered me again yesterday with a big sideways spook at the canter.....AND ....I .....BARELY .....HUNG...
WITH..........IT. BAD HORSE! (In this case she was being purposely ornery).

Now you know why at certain times of year I yell WOO WOO turkey!!! Which I was doing yesterday. Just wait until one of those monsters comes flapping out the brush at your horse.

But seriously glad you are okay, even if pride is somewhat bruised.



Anonymous said...

Sasham is a very brave horse. But one thing does do him in. Birds! Sound like they've got Arabee's number as well.

Falling off can be good, it means your pushing yourself. Trying harder things, etc.

I heard your not a "good" rider until you've fallen off at least 3 times.


Endurance Granny said...

Gee thanks Michelle, you have just elevated my status....I must be "expert" by now *LOL* as I've about last track of my being dumped quota :)

Anonymous said...

I fell off my first horse and broke my wrist. I was 8 yrs old. Trying to think but I don't think I fell off again until a polo horse did me in after I was married. I was in a kids hunt saddle and never bothered to change the stirrups that were way too short for me. He went from a gallop to a dead stop and I flipped over his head. Then I fell off Berone (he was blind in one eye, and I was trying to start him under saddle at the age of eight. I leaned over to give him a cookie, Daunna spooked him when she closed an electric fence behind us and he spun me off.) And that's the last time I've fallen off. 2005 I believe. So I think I've fallen off 3 times since age 8. But I could be wrong there could be another time in there I'm just not remembering it. Oh, yes, there was the time the palomino flipped over at a canter and just missed landing ontop of me by an inch. How could I forget that.

I hate falling off and many times I have come close but wind up saving myself. Good stomach muscles I guess! But truthfully the longer I go without falling off the more I worry about it, thinking my time has to be coming soon. (gonna go ride a green broke 3 year old next weekend!)


Anonymous said...

I'm not planning on recapping every fall I ever taken.But like you,I haven't fallen in a while.So I know my "number" is up!The arabian tree circle y saddle I ride in is pretty secure,so I can't take all the credit.It is definately my pick for solo rides.

I think when we are mothers our outlook changes about what we are willing to put up with! But I think the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a mother.I always return from riding ready to be the best mom ever..

Alicia and Synsation

Nicole said...

Thanks everyone - I'm still stiff and bruised! But I've certainly had well over 3 falls...this last one, the one in 2002, and at least 2-3 other falls off of my gelding, Jack, when I was first learning to ride my own horse as a kid.

And you're mothers, your risk-taking changes. And for me...riding isn't so much intentionally "me" time....but just I enjoy it so much...I come back from a ride ( where I didn't fall, anyway!) just grinning. So...when it works for me to ride, it's a really good thing. Another nice thing is that it really brings those abdominal muscles back from pregnancy! Which of course you can't see any definition now because I've got to lose the belly fat now, too, but at least I have some core strength back! haha

I think I"ll try riding again tonight. Most of the pain is gone. And I think it'll fit in the schedule well.

OurCrazyFarm said...

So glad you weren't hurt! My mare decided to jump and spook on one of our spring rides this year too. I haven't had a bronco ride for some time out of her, and was glad to actually stay on. Even that left me shaking and nervous about going out again. Good luck on your upcoming training! Hope you get your timing down so you can go compete! Happy horse riding:))