Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tumble and Twirl

This afternoon was gorgeous- 56 degrees, so I decided to go for a ride. Woohoo, This is the second time I rode this week!

Yesterday morning, I rode Annie. I decided to ride English for a change. Because I haven't ridden her for a while, I stayed in the arena. She was a complete fireball! She spooked at the barrels laying down at the end of the arena. She shied at birds flying past. She wheeled and danced. I warmed her up by walking (or trying to walk) for about 10 minutes and then I trotted and cantered her, reminding myself to keep my center of gravity, so she wouldn't unseat me with her wild outbursts. I tried to slow her down with half halts and circles, but she was so volatile. She was wound tighter than a pig's tail. I had to keep loosening my legs, because every time she'd act up, I'd grip to stay on. I trotted over poles and was pleased when she carefully lifted her legs over them. Slowly, she seemed to wind down and start to behave.

Lately, she doesn't seem to want to run around when I turn her loose so now I'm paying for it. I haven't ridden her for several weeks. Anyway, we rode for 40 minutes or so and then I slowed her to a walk to cool her down. I was very surprised when I suddenly realized that she had finally completely relaxed. Her head was low and her neck was stretched and she calmly walked without my constant reminders to walk and slow down. It was so nice! I decided to jog a bit more and she stayed calm! Hooray! I felt that ride ended much better than it started.

This afternoon, I took out Nadia. I saddled her up western, and we headed out. We rode along the highway, cars passing, and Nadia walked along, unfazed, until we could cross over to the big empty field for some trail riding. Right away, I got two different calls on my cell phone. Nadia just listened politely and walked on. I was thankful that she was so well behaved. I always enjoy her calm, but brisk, animated walk when we go out for rides.

At the far end of the field, we saw a mule and a horse, and she came to attention, prancing, with her head up. It occurred to me that if for any reason I fell off, back in this field, no one would know where I was. That is why I carry my phone with me. Nadia wanted to keep on prancing so I took her into a canter for about a half mile. Then, I slowed her down and circled back, trotting. The ground was soft but not muddy. After a long trot, she happily slowed to a walk and we headed back home. We crossed the highway and rode along the side for a while because of the barbed wire fencing. There is an easement of about 20 feet between the highway and the barbed wire fence where we could walk. We only needed to walk along the highway a couple hundred yards or so until we came to the side lane where we could turn off from the highway.

There were several cars coming so I wanted to turn off into the lane as quickly as possible. There was a small culvert by the road and to walk between the culvert and the barb wire, away from the cars, we had to go down the embankment. Just as we'd cleared the culvert and the barbed wire fence, Nadia suddenly slipped on the brushy slope. Her back leg went out from under her and she lay down. Somehow, I came off of her, up the hill, above her. I quickly stood up. She got up and her side was all black with mud. She seemed somewhat shaken, and I debated whether to walk her home or get back on. She seemed okay, although she stood with her back leg cocked. She didn't appear to be lame though, so I decided to mount up and we walked on home.

I have just finished feeding everyone and Nadia appears to be fine although she has mud patches on her hip, belly, and shoulder. I worry about her though; she is almost 26 years old.

This makes the third time I've fallen WITH a horse. This is the first time I wasn't hurt. I used to own a horse called The Riddler. He had a question mark blaze on his forehead. The first time I EVER rode him was in a halter with my husband holding the lead rope. He was unbroke, so we thought we could lead him around with me on his back. Well, I got a leg up, and he bolted, pulling the lead out of Scott's hand. He ran down the arena and we crashed into the fence. He landed on my leg. Have you ever seen a Nerf Football? If you cut it in half lengthwise and set it on the inside of your leg at your knee, that is what happened to my leg. Nothing was broken but I had a huge hematoma. My whole leg swelled and turned black. I couldn't bend my knee at all for 3 months. I recovered and realized that I had to train this horse to be ridden. That was one of the hardest "horse" things I ever had to do. I won't go into the training program right now, but he did get trained to saddle and my daughter and I both rode him.

A year later, I was riding Riddler, with a girlfriend on another of my horses, when Riddler tried to bolt. I pulled him up, on uneven ground, and he fell, on my other leg. Again, I was in agony. Again, nothing was broken but my leg turned black and blue. Again, it took 3 months to bend my knee. I could not blame Riddler because I tripped him up. But, I never felt safe on him again!

You just never know with horses! Nadia was a saint and Annie was a monster. Between them, I got my tumble and twirl!

Tumble and Twirl - song: Tumble and Twirl, artist: David Bowie, album: Tonight


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

WHEW!!! OH NO!! I'm glad I didn't see you fall from my bedroom window. I would have been a mess with worry!

I was reading your post and my heart was in my throat!

Fiona~aka~Val, I'm just SOOO relieved and thankful you and Nadia weren't hurt. How scary!!

Truly...It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN you fall off a horse.

Now remind me again why I want so badly to get back on my horse again.



Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Argh! You lived through one of my worst fears three times. I hope to never have a horse fall on my leg. My other fear is getting my foot caught in the stirrup after a fall and being dragged. I actually ride with only my toes in the stirrup because of that fear. If I feel the stirrup in my arch, I think my foot is too far in. I'm looking into breakaway stirrups. I'm glad you fell on the uphill side and cleared your horse, and I'm glad your horse is okay too.

Andrea said...

What a crazy thing, I am glad you got off safely. I am glad you are alright. And I have had one horse fall on my. I think the saddle hurt my left knee. IT was weird, the horse's legs just came out from under her?? Really strange, good thing she was only 14 hands and maybe 800 lbs. I still have nerve damage to that knee, and that was about 6 years ago.

We are some crazy horse people are we not? And we do this over and over again.

And the Riddler, what a cute name, I would love to hear his "breaking" story!! :)

Fantastyk Voyager said...

She slipped on the mud. It's hard to explain how we STILL have mud everywhere weeks after our last snow. New Mexico is high desert and is usually very dry. For an embankment to still be muddy is crazy!