Thursday, December 13, 2012

If you fall off a horse you gotta get back on

But if you fall off a second time can you curl up in the fetal position and cry?

Haha, just kidding, we all know I'm too stubborn to do that.

I'm taking pony to a gymkhana on Saturday, and I asked my trainer for a lesson before we go. With Christmas, my work schedule has been crazy and I've been working extra hours and haven't been able to see pony. Since last Friday. So I knew she was going to be hot today, but nothing could have prepared me for the crazy that ensued.

When pony gets in a crazy mindset, you have to sit back and relax. If you get frustrated with her, it amps her up and she gets crazier. She also cannot be 'worked down' when she gets tired, she gets crazier and more strung out like 'maybe if I do it faster I can stop sooner'.

So we were trotting crazy for a while and finally she was able to settle down and we spent about 30 minutes doing good trot work. We had sets of cones set up in a circle (so you had to go through two cones at each point going around a circle) I hope that makes sense.

We then added two ground poles and a cavaletti to simulate the hurry scurry at the gymkhana. We were doing some awesome trot work.

And then we went to work on the lope. She was a freaking bottle rocket. Holy crud. So the first time we went over the cavaletti, and she did a beautiful jump. But obviously I didn't expect it. So I lost both stirrups in the jump and went flying. She ran straight into a wall, and I managed to fly off the side of her and land on my feet. So I got back on her and tried again, obviously. Before we got to the cavaletti she tried to turn the other way and I put leg on. She then decided to full on jump a ground pole.

That threw me off balance, and then before I was able to regain balance, she was headed at a wall and she zigged and I zagged.

I was on my butt so fast. She was at the other side of the arena before I could blink.

So what did I do, you ask?

I dusted my ass off and I jumped back on. Well not quite, my trainer asked to get on her first, but otherwise I would have been back up on her. Amanda rode her through what I was clearly having problems with, then she modified it for me. Because come on, falling a third time would have just been tempting fate.

We made it so that half of it was a circle, but half of it was slightly squared, so I still needed some sharper lope turns, but didn't have to worry about her jumping.

It took a while, but we were finally able to calmly lope through it.

So, the damage, you ask? I landed hard on my right side. I have a large bruise on my right shin and on the inside of my right knee. I think they're probably from hitting the saddle horn? And my right arm is all sorts of achey. It's the elbow that I dislocated a few years ago (gymnastics) and I think I jammed it pretty good in the fall.

Pony is such a sweet mare, she's not bad at all. And that's what is so hard about riding her is that after she dumped me I wanted to go over and smack her and get mad at her for zigging. But that wouldn't have solved anything. The problem was that I was not giving her the confidence she needed.

She needs someone to hold her together and be right on her when she makes a move in the wrong direction. You really need to be able to read her mind and stay with her, because if you don't she will fall apart. She was hot and ready to go, and I wasn't getting leg on and I wasn't relaxed because she was obviously being crazy. So she went ahead and lost it on me. And when I got back on I had to let it go and give her what she needed from me as a rider.

I think she will teach me stuff no other horse could.

So moral of the story?

If you fall off a horse, you have to get back on. If you fall of again right after that, get back up until you've figured out how to learn a lesson. Lesson learned pony, loud and clear.


  1. I guess we can add these to the list from the equestrian challenge???? LOL
    Glad you are ok! Good job not giving up!

  2. Haha. Good moral, and good job sticking with it but adjusting your approach. I've seen a lot of people take the same fall two, three, even four times in a row because of the old "get back on" mentality.

  3. Thanks both of you!

    Robin, I appreciate that because a lot of hard heads would see that as 'letting the horse win' by me modifying what I was doing. She was able to do it for my trainer, and obviously at that point after such a long tough ride already, I was not able to collect myself enough to get her where I needed her! Thanks!

  4. One of my favorite trainers (Martin Black) says that if you ask a horse three times the same way for the same thing and you don't get the response you're after, it's not a problem with the horse it's a failure on the part of the rider to help the horse understand what is wanted. And yet so many horse people will keep doing the same thing that isn't working over and over. I don't see a lot of happy, responsive horses getting made that way, just a lot of sad, worn down, dispirited ones. So I definitely commend you for not going down the road!


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