Recently BHIB posted about things you hear after a fall. What a timely post since I had just hit the ground on Sunday. It had been a lot of years since I’d been dumped and the ground was not any softer than I remembered it being the last time.
This was not the “it came out of nowhere” kind of a fall that some experience after an unexpected spook. This came after a million signs and warnings that I chose to ignore.
Before I go further, I’m fine. Definitely sore and I have a new awareness of just how often I use my neck on a daily basis, but I’m good.
Now, let me back this story up a little. It was a cold day and the fresh snow still coated the earth in bright white. Being the middle of Winter you could see for miles through the barren trees. The sound of neighbors shoveling and clearing ice from their driveways filled the air.
My Aunt who is borrowing Hubby’s Mare for the Northwood Farms Challenge, braved the icy streets to come get a ride in. We warmed up in the arena. Freckles was unhappy, not as agreeable as she usually is for my Aunt. Her shod hooves filled with snow and ice, creating an unsteady platform to walk on, I don’t think she liked it and she was good about letting us know. Ride on we did, however, venturing out into the pastures and ending up in our back lot. It was out here that she decided she’d had enough. The chaos of the neighborhood, the surrounding area she usually calls home looking so oddly different and us just being so damn far from the barn. She started to give my Aunt a hard time. Crow hopping and popping up, refusing forward motion and getting more opinionated as the ride went on.
We decided the best decision was to trade horses.
Keeping her in the back field, I started with a little ground work, focusing on getting her unstuck, able to go forward and making the gate to the barn a little less comfortable. When I got her attention on me and thought she had found a little relaxation I climbed aboard. We were working on finding forward, a few steps at first, just from one point to the next, so I could eventually build on that and get the full circumference of the field. I had not been in saddle long before my husband came through the woods to see how things were going. His approach caused her to put on the brakes, I asked for forward…she compromised and gave me some motion but instead of forward she went UP. I came sliding off with a nice flat landing on my back.
I laid there for a moment as she still stood on two feet, thinking if she comes over backwards things are going to get really bad for me. I rolled away, she didn’t flip over and came back down on all fours. I got up, walked over to her, she was thankfully standing nice and still where she landed, I threw a leg back over and we continued on with our game.
I rode her for about another 30 minutes. Offering her rest when she would walk willingly forward, at first just after a few steps between rests and then more and more steps in between until finally at the end I had a willing partner to go wherever I asked in the field. She blew out, lowered her head and generally acted more like a horse you would actually like to ride. I suggested we take her back to the arena where my aunt could remount and finish her ride on a happier horse. Which we did and she did.
Looking back on the entire incident I have conflicting emotions about it. On one hand I see it as a negative. I’m disappointed in myself because a ride to the back field in the snow on such a cold day was more than I should’ve asked for this new team to take on. I wasn’t paying attention to Freckles’ tightness as we drifted from the barn as I was focusing too much on my own ride. I knew her feet were giving her a fit and disregarded her perspective. I’ve lost trust in her. After being so solid for so long she has reminded me that she really is…well…a horse. I’ve lost trust in me. Questioning that I will consistently make the safest decisions for me, my horse and other riders. A reminder to myself that I really am…well…a human.
Now here are the positives. I’ve been reminded not to get complacent, not to make assumptions and it has come at a fairly low cost of just a few sore muscles. I have an expressed reminder to take into account the needs of my horses, what is going on with them is important. I’m proud of myself for the handling of the situation. After coming off, I wasn’t emotional. There was no anger or fear, just a methodical realization that it was time to get back on and pick up right where we left off. I’m kind of glad my Aunt saw her at her worst. If she is signing up to be with this animal, it is good for her to have the full picture.
I haven’t been back on either of the horses since Sunday. I’m anxious to get back out there, I’d like to see where she & I left off, but I’m also trying to give my body the time it needs to heal. There is a lot to be learned from a fall, but they are lessons I hope I don’t have to learn again soon.