Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Whoa, D@#* It!"

Speaking of wild rides, I had one last Thursday night that could have ended in disaster.

The trail ride didn’t start out well from the beginning. Scottie just wouldn’t stand still while I got both feet in the stirrups (my right ankle is partially frozen, and it’s difficult to catch that right stirrup). He just wasn’t listening to me, and I admit to shouting a few angry words to him like “Whoa, Dammit!” You know the feeling,  right? It’s hard to be horse whisperers at times like that. 

As usual, everyone else was waiting outside the barn for us, and I guess he was eager to join them.

The weather was perfect for a trail ride with temps in the low 70’s and a nice breeze blowing. All of the horses were feeling particularly frisky including Bard (remember the Peppermint Kid?), and we did a lot of trotting and cantering as we made the big loop back to the barn. We even practiced puddle walking with Scottie showing the other horses that puddles don’t swallow horses. This is a new fear he’s overcome this year, and I’m very proud of him.

We were riding up a sand road about a mile and a half from the barn, and all the horses were eager to get home. Ann and Carolyn had trotted on ahead while I waited for Bard and Anne to catch up. Scottie broke into a trot, then a canter and then a gallop to catch up. Then it happened. He stumbled and threw me off balance to the left. With every stride I went further sideways, but Scottie kept going. I grabbed for his neck but couldn’t reach it, and then the inevitable happened. I fell off. As I was coming down in front of him, I wondered if Scottie would step on me (he didn’t), and then I hit the ground, flat on my back, and my head hit pretty hard, and I slid in the grass for a little ways. Briefly I felt like I might pass out. The feeling passed, and then I lay there to do the post-fall assessment. Do I hurt anywhere? Is anything broken? Can I move? Can I stand up?

As I was staggering to my feet I heard Carolyn and Ann yelling at Scottie who had abandoned me and was heading for home. Then Carolyn and Anne both rushed up from different directions asking if I was okay. I was unhurt except for small cuts from my glasses that the helmet made as it pushed forward on my head. To my amazement, I had no soreness anywhere; not even a headache, although I was a bit unsteady on my feet.

The three of us walked toward home until Ann came back with Scottie in hand. He had stopped to graze. My feelings at that point were anger at myself for falling off and anger at Scottie for abandoning me. I asked him how he could possibly do that to me, but he didn’t have anything to say for himself; just acted oblivious to any wrongdoing on his part. He seemed to be wondering, “what’s all this fuss about?”.

I spotted a big downed tree on the edge of the woods and managed to clamber ungracefully up on it. From there I was able to remount, and we walked back home with no further incident. No way was I going to let Scottie get away with dumping his rider and going home! No way was I going to allow myself time to develop a fear of riding on the  trails again.

When we got back, I had Scott canter both directions in the arena before dismounting. I needed to do that for myself. Once in the cross ties, he hung his head and seemed to have figured out that he’d done something wrong. I sponged him off, turned him out and went home, still feeling no pain anywhere and feeling very lucky.

I WAS very lucky! I was wearing my riding helmet. If I hadn’t been, there’s no doubt I would have been knocked unconscious at the very least. I think this incident scared my riding pals more than it did me. They were wonderful to me, making sure I was all right and reassuring me that “we’ve all been there”. I’m very grateful to them.

I hope this incident will cause them to consider wearing riding helmets themselves from now on because you never know what might happen, no matter how well trained and quiet your horse is. This happened because Scottie stumbled; not because he ran away with me or bucked me off or spooked at a deer.

Tomorrow he and I will have a long talk before the trail ride. I’ll apologize for getting short with him and ask him to please take better care of both of us. And I will do the same by not allowing him to tire himself out too much.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, I’ve been busy mulching all of the flower beds, and do they ever look nice! There is just a little more to do and the job will be done. Below I’m sharing some photos of the new and old beds and plants. They don’t look like much this year, but by next year they should be wonderful! By then those lopsided shrubs will be properly pruned and tamed, too.
 Here is the new flower bed area; from the near shrub to the corner of the fence.

Where the yellow flags are is where the old driveway was. This area hasn't been mulched yet. Eventually, we'll put a tree ring around the maple; this summer, I hope.

 One of my new plants, a yellow Shasta Daisy.

The view from the road of the new flower bed area.

Red Volunteer Daylily. First bloom this year.

Spirea, foxglove and garden wagon.

Those lovely Asiatic lilies again next to my Annabelle hydrangea. Everything is blooming early this year because of the early heat we've had and the abundant rain lately.

This lime green shrub looks very pretty against the old garage wall. Those are Blue Star junipers on either side.


Judy Wood said...

Oh good heavens. That is always such a scary thing to go through. Isn't it funny how you always seem to have quite a bit of time to think about things while you are on your way down? I hope your riding group will take the "hard hat" lesson from this, but I wouldn't bet on it. I had one similar "stumble at a canter" scare decades ago (although less dramatic than yours) while riding bare-headed, and have used my hard hat religiously ever since. Bet you are a bit stiff and sore today!!

Karen Thumm said...

It amazes me how many thoughts go through your mind in what must be a second or two at the most, Judy.

What's also amazing is that I've had no soreness or stiffness from the fall, except a little in my neck. I can't explain why that is, but I'm grateful for it.