Thursday, October 16, 2008

Worst Ride Ever #3

or, Why my back hurts in the morning (a.k.a, my worst - or at least most public - wreck)

When someone loans you a horse, it's usually a good idea to ask at least a few questions. Especially if the horse comes with an item of tack you're not used to using, or that needs to be adjusted properly in order to work. In my case, that may not have helped. But it wouldn't have hurt to ask.


Four years ago I let myself be talked into riding with the local drill team. They've performed every year for the past 35 at the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo. Women all over the area have ridden with the group at one time or another. The make-up changes year to year, but they always open the rodeo and ride in the rodeo parade. They pretty much just do that one week's events, although they've ridden at the Black Hills Stock Show, bull bashes & rodeos elsewhere on occasion.

They practice one or two nights a week in the month or so leading up to the rodeo. More some years when there are lots of new riders. Less others if mainly veterans are riding. This particular year there were four or 5 new people. This was my second year on the team. The first year Sunny was newly at the trainer's, so I ended up riding one of his horses. But this year I thought I'd actually be able to ride my own horse.

Yeah.... So, that didn't work out quite as planned. The first night of practice while I waited for our ride to show up, Sunny and I warmed up. It was windy and hot and threatening to storm. Short version? He dumped me before we even got to practice. But luckily I missed the larger rocks and the fence, and he seemed to have gotten the sillies out of his system. No harm, no foul.

Unfortunately, once we arrived at the practice, Sunny took an immediate dislike to being squeezed between horses, and proceeded to threaten kicking, striking and squealing at any horse that looked at him. (And when you're kicking and squealing? They all look. So do their riders. We sure didn't do anything to better Arabs' reputation in SD that night!)
His behavior was a fear thing, which I've since worked through with him, and he's fine in company now. But at that point - well, kickers are NOT welcome on the team. Perfectly understandable.

So for the second year, I ended up on a borrowed horse. Here's a lesson for you - when the horse you borrow wears a tie-down? Always ask just how snugly it should be adjusted.

Part of the routine required that the troop pause together in a single line, and then pinwheel out in twos. Easy enough, but the mare I was riding was herd bound - major separation anxiety issues with a pasture mate also being ridden. When we halted each time we were next to her buddy. But her buddy left ahead of her.... Which did not, in any way, please her.

Ultimately, she was unhappy enough at pausing in line and being left behind that she went straight up and over on top of me. I don't know who was more surprised - the riders next to us we almost landed on, me, or the mare. She'd never done anything like that before (or since that I know of), and more than likely it was my fault for not reading her frustration better. And also for not checking that I'd adjusted her tie-down properly.

Luckily, I was able to push away from her just enough as she came over that it was her butt that hit me rather than the saddle. A couple of separated ribs and a disc in my back that isn't quite where it used to be was the worst of it. I rode with the team when they performed. (Those stretchy elastic braces with boning? Wonderful things!)

As wrecks go, it could have been a LOT worse. But it left a lingering impression. Oddly, I don't worry about rearing horses. Or falling off (well, not much), which I've done several times since. I worry about being fallen on. I don't much like riding when the footings bad or the ground is frozen. And I like riding my own horse. I know his quirks, and I know when he's having an off day.


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Holly crap! How scary- that could have been much much worse, yikes...

SunnySD said...

It happened so fast, I didn't really have time to think about it until later.... But definitely not one of those experiences I want to repeat - lol!