Monday, January 26, 2009

Flight or Fight, Fail or Prevail.

I knew something like this would happen eventually, and this will not likely be the last event of it's kind. When one is involved with horses one must accept that accidents will happen. Today was not the worst incident I've dealt with in my 15+ years around horses, but it was a pivotal one in my young relationship with Jr and for my overanxious nature. See, I knew when I bought my own horse that the "exposure to error" would be greater than say, a once-a-week ride on a 20 year old school horse. I knew that my "chicken-shit re-rider" status would be tested and I would either fail or prevail. Would I get back on or would I cower in the corner and just be terrified? Luckily this incident was a good starting point for equine disaster. Nobody got seriously hurt and it happened on the ground in an empty arena so no major catastrophe.

This is what transpired or at least what happened in my head...

We are lunging to the right. The lesson before mine exits the arena and I am alone in the arena with Jr. He's a little miffed that the other horses left, including his stall neighbor Mighty and his buddy Max, but he maintains himself rather well. Much better than he used to in a similar situation. What happens next happens faster than the speed of light: he spooks at something (I think it was two of the boarders walking out of the darkness) out the arena door (towards the other barn) and bolts full tilt directly past me towards the opposite side of the arena. While yelling WHOA the panic in my head flashes the following all at the same time: dragging dragging don't let go don't let go if he runs with the lunge line he'll surely step on it and break his neck oh god oh god too fast too - TRIP FALL SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT He's hurt he's dead he's lame.... no... he's stopped at the gate towards his barn and is standing there looking like an Arab stallion in heat. KAT is jogging out of the barn (must've heard the ruckus) and he allows her to come in and catch him and gather up his line while I try to breath and stop shaking and - OUCH! Oh my KNEE! Oh, no. pull up pant leg and check knee. Knee is fine. Knee is fine? Really? oh but it hurts. One more reason to wear fleece lined jeans: padding!

We caught our breath and I was able to explain that he wasn't being naughty and that he just really REALLY spooked. I really hate how there's no light between the barns and the arena. People walk out of the darkness coming from the parking lot to the barns. He's been startled that way before, but not this bad. He scraped the front of his right forearm, I assume on the jump cup of the jump standard he ran into I think while I was still holding the line. No blood, just hair loss and a scrape. I took him back out to try to lunge him more. He was spooking and snorting and didn't want go to the end of the arena that it happened in. Of course because I worry about everything I'm having visions of him spooking in that end EVERY time and having to rehabilitate him or only ride on the other side. At this point I'm considering NOT riding him but I knew better. This is where it was pivotal for me. Do I ride him? Do I do something safer? I KNOW you're supposed to "get back on" after you fall, but remember, I'm overanxious and rather chicken-shit so the prospect of getting ON this 16 hand snorty monster is NOT looking like a sane idea. He didn't want to lunge. He didn't want to do anything. He didn't look like he was lame or anything so I made him keep going. I had to ask over and over and over again before he started going at a steady pace. He started to calm down by the time KAT was checking the other student's tack and helping them mount. I called over to her and asked if he looked okay and she said yes. I went ahead and put his bridle on and mounted and he was just fine. It was like it didn't happen. He was a little hesitant by the door the first pass, but I let him stand there for a second and then moved him on. He did prick his ears up EVERY time we went by the far door but he didn't shy or anything and we had a fairly decent lesson. His lope started out with two thumbs down but got better. He wasn't in the mood for loping so he might have been a little sore from his rodeo.

So the bottom line is: I got on. Even though all kinds of horrors were flashing through my mind, I got on and rode. I made sure he was calm first, I'm not an idiot. Luckily he's a pretty calm horse. He has his moments but he's much calmer than most of the other horses in my past.

KAT brought me some ointment for his scrape and I'll bring my tube next time I go. He didn't seem bothered but he was very thirsty. It was really dusty in the arena - can't really water it when it's 20 degrees and I was literally covered in arena from head to toe. I came home and looked in the mirror and my whole face was covered. Pretty. Glad I didn't need to stop at the grocery store!

So now I'm sitting here with ice on my knee wondering what lovely colors it will turn in the next few days while the snowstorm hits and I am too busy with work to go ride until Thursday at the earliest. Snow storm tomorrow, work Wednesday night. Hopefully he doesn't get too sore. I wish he hadn't done that, but I'm glad it turned out okay.

1 comment:

  1. Live and learn- sometimes the only way to learn horse stuff is to DO it and have the crap hit the fan. Sounds like everything worked out really well in the long run, and the next time something happens, you will be more prepared to handle it. Good Job!! And I sure hope your knee heals up FAST too!