I posted this on CoTH and on Grey's blog already, but felt it needed to be posted here as well. If I only post positive updates, it really doesn't give a fair picture of things:
I got launched on Thursday, and I mean "view of your saddle from space" launched.
The farmer was harvesting the corn across the road today, and I thought "wow, what a great opportunity to desensitize him to the trucks".
So we headed out to the hayfield. He was pretty wound up in the crossties, as in "I think the aliens have landed in the cornfield" anxious, looky, and fidgety. No matter. I'm brave these days. Going up the driveway, he took quite a look at the wheelbarrow by the garden, but I remained relaxed, supple and unconcerned. He marched past.
We headed to the hayfield pausing to take a good look at the corn chopper in the distance. He was very interested, but not stupid. We proceeded to the hayfield, went a third of the way down and cut across. One of the tri-axle trucks came up the road headed for the cornfield. We've gotten better about these huge trucks. He was walking very relaxed, not focusing on the truck, ears swiveling calmly and I thought "WOW, he is doing so great at this". The truck down shifted at the drive a hundred yards away and belched black smoke.
WeeeeEEEeeeeelllll.... I think I've pretty much put together the events of the next 5 seconds (I didn't last 8 ). He lept forward as I reeled in rein. People who do not ride Saddlebreds will not appreciate how their neck can go from relaxed and level on contact to right in your face with 2 feet of slack. I went hand over hand up the reins as my fanny took the back door and landed on his croup. He always takes exception to that and responded with a hearty buck which catapulted me back towards the saddle but he over shot his mark a bit. The slack was now out of my reins as I orbited at the end of them like a Thelwell sketch watching my horses head and neck grow smaller in the distance.
Not completely out of my wits, I shimmied down the reins back towards earth, somehow landing in the saddle. "Wow", I thought, "Maybe I can ride this". Think again. My horse was now in full flight, convinced that whatever it was that had roared had snatched his rider and was pummeling him from above and certainly going to snatch him up in it's claws and then eat him. Over the years, I've discovered an interesting fact about the Saddlebred breed, and that is that they do not need to get their heads down to buck. As my ass smacked down into the saddle he hit the gas and did his best Pegasus imitation. I gave up the idea of riding it out and started my pre-flight check.
I knew my feet were out of the stirrups, that happened during the back door exist. For three or four leaps I clung to his neck like a mutton buster at the local rodeo then realizing I was taking a worse beating aboard than I would hitting the ground began to exist stage right. "Hmmm" I thought "I always come off over the right shoulder. I wonder what that says about the straightness of my riding position?" When the ground was invitingly close I let go, landing on my right side, tucking and rolling while I watched white legs fly by.
An inventory of dirt, rips and bruises confirm that probably his right front hoof caught my right hip (tearing my jeans with a clinch) and his left hind (luckily unshod) brushed first the inside of my right calf, then the left inner thigh, the inside of my left elbow and finally he brim of my helmet where I found fresh dirt and some white hairs. Nothing about actually hitting the ground ever hurt and I came to rest spread eagle in the hay field. For a moment I enjoyed the sensation of the earth spinning, then I tried to sit up and had about as much success as an upside down tortoise as I wallowed groggily in the tall grass.
Within a minute I got upright enough to watch my horse streaking up the road beside the field and rounding the corner towards home. "Well, at least he's getting his exercise". Knowing there would be someone there to catch him, I concentrated on the task at hand… defying gravity while noting that either whiplash or concussion was making my jeans appear to be an aqua print and I know they are not.
Happy that I had my wind and still didn't feel hurt, just dazed with birdies flying around my head, I walked back towards to the barn, hollering ahead as I went so they knew I was on my way. My mother met me half way up the drive with my horse, and I was shocked to find I could still mount from the ground (16.3 hh) and that I still wanted to. We went back to the field and did serpentines through three more truck change outs. He wasn't boogering over the trucks anymore, but I must admit I stayed a bit further down field. He did NOT ask for a peppermint after I untacked, and looked a bit troubled when I left.
The last time I got launched that hard I was in my twenties. I'm pretty pleased I survived this one. That night I got little sleep. I was achy and sore, and eah time I began to drift off I would suffer one of those falling sensations, and a flash of grey mane on white neck. I finally fell asleep around 5 am.
I made an excuse not to ride the next day. Due to a cold front, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees, and it was windy with intermittent rain. All perfect excuses to stay home. It also made it convenient to wear long sleeves and pants to cover the rainbow of bruises that were deepening on my arms and legs. I could trace the path of Grey’s hind hoof easily up my left thigh, and both of my legs began to show smaller bruises previously missed.
Three days later it was time to get back up on that horse. I felt anxiety driving to the barn, but once tacked up I felt fine. Since the arena was being used for turnout, I headed straight back to the scene of the crime, now peacefully devoid of any machinery. I could feel the effects of adrenaline and knew I was hyper reactive to every sound, and movement from my horse. Luckily, Grey was in a calm, loagy mood despite the cool weather and made no move to challenge my seat. Each time a car approached, I would circle off the road into the field, afraid to have anything come up behind me. Since I had met disaster at a flat footed walk, I decided gait had nothing to do with my safety, and took him for a hand gallop at two point position. After a reasonably long ride, I was happy to head back to the barn on a good note feeling in control of my horse, and not too anxious.
I know that someday, probably in the near future, this young and creative thinking horse will again try some shenanigans and come close to jumping out from under me. Not a month goes by that he doesn’t pull something, and for the last two years I have successfully ridden every other bolt, buck and spook. No matter how careful you are, or how vigilant, there are always those unforeseen circumstances. That’s why they call them accidents.