Sep 14, 2008

And Off Again... Literally.

Yesterday I posted the following story on Horsetales. One may find it unusual for me to post this detail about a horse I have for sale. "Yep, no one is going to buy that one now," you might be thinking. Perhaps. But, get to the end of the blog for the thoughts from today -- which may give you a different perspective.

Here was my Horsetales Post:

My last blog entry was titled “Back on Black”. This one could be titled “And Now Off the Black”. Didn’t I say I just wasn’t interested in riding young horses anymore? That something about this horse has always put me on edge? Three steps forward, two steps back? Well, I’m not sure there is any turning back now. I think I’m done.

I have a big camping weekend coming up in just a week and a half. And decided up until that time, I will ride Black or one of the others rather than risk Windy getting hurt – especially when some of the places we ride are muddy and slick right now. Since this morning’s ride was going to be in the arena, figured it was as good a place as any to ride Black. And felt extra good about the day when he loaded into the two horse trailer on the first send, stood quietly while I picked his feet and seemed very level as I lunged him in the round pen in an unfamiliar arena.

Sticky feet. Told Sheila that Brenda recommends ground driving to help with that. He would follow other horses, but real reluctant to go and explore on his own. So we started by following Deb and Jim and then Cooper and Sheila. We’d break off, circle and then come back to the group. Truly, we were to the point of taking extended stays at other less populated areas of the arena. We checked out the stuffed gorilla, the barrels, followed Jim through the poles. Put one foot on a plank placed in the arena -- couldn’t get the other foot on it, but one was good. He snorted at the yellow tarp but then relaxed. I wouldn’t let him cross it as I have a fear of shod horses and tarps, so that was my choice not to – but kind of think he may have.

Deb brought out a big ball. This caught Black’s attention. Almost the same reaction as he had to cows last winter at Chance Ridge. Ears up, alert & moving toward the ball. Jess’ Cutter was moving it and Black was perhaps at his shoulder or flank. I sensed he only had an interest in the ball, not a fear.

I’ve heard people say “the horse just blew!” And I always believed there had to be something that caused “the blow”. Whether it be a tack problem, a spook, insects… I was of the assumption that SOMETHING has to happen. But as the six of us dissected the event, none of us could come up with a reason. He reacted like he had something wrapped around his legs. He didn’t, but that was the reaction as he tucked his head, rounded his back and four feet left the ground like a bronc out of the gate at a rodeo. I recall riding out a few of the blasts. Thinking once about trying to one rein stop, but the hand couldn’t coordinate it – either I was hanging on or the brainwaves just wouldn’t work. I remember not wanting to fall close to his feet. I recall hearing Sheila say “get back” or something to that sort. The girls say I lasted 8 seconds, but I think they were being nice.

My helmet took the impact right above the left temple followed by my jaw and shoulder. I think my elbow went into my ribs. I have a new growth under my left knee that Deb says looks like a grew a new appendage. Wasn’t sure if it came from the impact of a hoof. John says its hoof sized. My right knee is also bruised – I think it could have collided with my left knee… so who knows. I ate dirt and sawdust and saw my horse continue to buck on down the arena.

Why is it when you fall from a horse, your first impulse is to get up quickly and announce “I’m okay!” And I did get up and I was okay. But I also sat back down just to catch my breath and assess the damage, if any. Good to have two nurses on hand when you take a dive! I am pretty sure Polly was ready to call 911; but I convinced her I just needed water. The other nurse, Sheila, caught the beast and put him in the round pen.

When I got up from the arena ground for the second time, I had flashes of injured football players rising and the fans applauding! I wanted to applaud for myself. I’m 47 years old and took quite a fall and everything still seems to work. I’m alive! And then I hobbled to the round pen and lunged my Black colt and with Sheila’s help, I got back on. I rode him for a few minutes and gladly followed Sheila’s advise that enough was enough… don’t’ push it. And I didn’t.

I rode Jake for a bit and then Cooper. But with the “appendage” growing out of my shinbone right into where I touch the saddle, it wasn’t comfortable. But the boys took good care of me when I dropped the stirrup.

My good friend, Kathy Newberg, told me not to take offense at what she was going to say – that I was “no trainer” and I shouldn’t be doing this. She is right. I’m not and I shouldn’t. I’m not out to prove anything – just trying to build a future for this horse. But I think I’ve gone as far as I can. I know this. And McCain knows it, too, when I came hobbling into the house tonight.

He’s a good age. We’ve taken him a lot of places and asked him to do things on the trail that a lot of horses haven’t done. He just needs the holes I left open, filled in. I believe the colt is very insecure. He needs a strong leader and a consistent training regimen. I can’t give him either.

What his future hold; I can’t say. My head hurts right now. And my knee. I’ll think about it tomorrow or the next day….

Oh, and am I ever grateful I had a helmet on my head. I did see stars when I hit, but the helmet took the brunt of the impact. I would hate to have thought about that force without it.

Today's Perspective

Today I woke up to new aches and pains. No worse for the wear than yesterday and truth be known, I feel better mentally and physically. My shinbone still has a huge lump that is turning some crazy colors and my entire body feels like it did when I was in a car accident some time ago. But none of the pieces are broken. I think I'll live.

I mentioned on Horsetales that this horse needs someone more confident than I am and a consistent training regimen to be successful. I still stand by this thought. But the interesting comment I had was from a very respected horsewoman who knows this horse and knows horse behavior, especially in regards to cow work. She said:

"I can give you my guess as to what happened with the Black colt as
I've seen it many times when a colt first alerts to something that
puts him into the chase mode. First they loose any attention they
have on their rider or just decide that they would rather dump the
rider to get on with the game. Almost always happens the first time
a colt is sent after a cow – for that matter may it even happen with
a broke horse when given permission to chase on a loose rein. The
more intent the horse is on the object he is chasing the more likely
he will buck on a loose rein on the initial run.

I watched the Black horse when you first introduced him to chasing
cattle and knew immediately that he was intent on the game. He has a lot of "cow" in him.

You said that his ears went forward and his attention went to the
ball. I would be willing to bet that you also felt him loosen up his
stickiness at the same time. Sure not making any excuses for the
horse but know you're wondering why he did what he did. He blew
because he wanted to play his own game on his own terms. Sure
doesn't make it hurt any less but may give you some idea as to why it

If I didn't know better, I would have thought this person was in the arena with me. But she wasn't. But the horse pretty much mirrored what she mentions. Does it change anything with me? Not sure. I really don't think we need him. The trust is broken; its going to be hard to get that back. But I don't want to drop him at a sale and hope for the best. The only thing I have decided so far is to continue to work with him as I can. May not be in the saddle, but there are other options. Perhaps a real cowboy will read this and tell me "Hey, I'll take your pony!" :)

Meanwhile, I'll show you my bruise like a badge of honor! Hey, us horsepeople are weird that way!


  1. Anonymous3:38 PM

    Reading your story of the Black, mirrored my experiance with my 5 yo mare. She bucked me off twice, I got back on and have ridden her since, but, you nailed it when you said the trust is broken. I am on egg shells when I ride her and so is she. She is a beautiful, smart foundation bred gal,, I,like you, don't have the time, or desire to give her the attention she needs on a regular basis. Anyway,, your words made me feel so much better. I thought I was such a "chicken" for feeling like I do.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings. I am 58. Jennifer

  2. Jennifer,

    I've talked a lot with friends about giving myself "permission" not to ride this horse if that is what I choose to do. And letting myself off the hook. Never feel "chicken"! Feel smart! I'm assuming you are like me & want to continue to ride for many more years and it certainly isn't worth getting hurt over. Listen to the little voice in your head - it is usually right. Ride what you feel safe on & let yourself off the hook on the ones you don't!

    Thank you for sharing & keep me posted if anything changes with you and the mare.



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