Sunday, August 9, 2009

A First Time for Everything

My husband and I spent a beautiful four days in the San Juans Islands last week. We came back on Wednesday. Needless to say, I hadn't been on my horse in about a week.

Thursday I readied for my lesson, fully intending to tell my instructor that I was going to try showing next year if my mare stayed sound. So I'm riding around the arena, starting my lesson and waiting for the appropriate time to tell her my plans. We move into a canter and work on half-halts from a school canter to a walk and back again. Gailey was dull and lugging, not really into working hard. We circle at 20 meters in this slow collected canter. Just as we come back to the rail, Gailey leaps sideways and shies. Now, my mare is NOT talented when it comes to shying. She's too big and too slow to unseat anyone.

Until now.

She goes one way. I go the other. All of this plays out in slow motion while I fly through the air. Funny how moments like this slow down time. As I'm approaching the ground, my first thought is "I hope I don't hear a snap." For those of you that have followed my posts, you know my mare is 17-1 hands and a long way to fall. I slam onto my side into the hard-packed arena sand near the rail. My hip hits first then my right arm as I jam my elbow into the ground.

No snap.

But pain. Lots of pain washes over me. Darn.

I sit up and flex my arm. No bones grate against bones. Just the pain. I get to my feet as my instructor catches my horse, who was more suprised by me landing on the ground next to her than I was. She's never had anyone fall off of her before and had no clue what it meant other than she might be in trouble.

I feel my arm. Nothing appears to be broken, but it hurts. I sit in the arena veiwing arena while my instructor jumps on the mare to make sure she doesn't attempt a repeat performance. She didn't. Meanwhile, I'm sweating like crazy and feeling pretty sick to my stomach. Then I find I have trouble breathing. I've never had that happen before, but I guess I now know what asthma must feel like. Shock, I guess.

My trainer calls my husband to pick me up. He breaks all speed records getting there. One of the boarders cools out my horse and puts her away (thanks, Kim).

The next day, I'm better, but then yesterday, it seems to hurt more. Plus, the swelling has migrated down into my wrist. I finally concede defeat and see a doctor. She used to ride, too, and has had lots of falls. They take x-rays. Nothing is broken, but I've sprained my wrist and elbow. I probably shouldn't even be typing this.

I feel lucky to have fallen off at that speed from that height and escaped with only sprains. I'm anxious to get back on my mare and get going again, but it appears it'll be a few weeks before that happens.

I guess it goes to show that things happen, especially with horses, that you can never predict. In the 11 years I've owned this horse, no one has ever come off of her, including me.

There's a first time for everything. So tell us about one of your firsts!


Laura Crum said...

Ouch...sorry to hear you got hurt, Jami. Even sprains are no fun. I guess we all know that any horse can dump us, but I don't think any of us expect it to happen when we have a history with the horse such as you did.

I can't think of any current stories of my own, but my uncle, a tough old cowboy, recently got bucked off a roan gelding he'd owned for two years who had shown no previous signs of wanting to buck. My uncle had made several hundred roping runs on the horse. A month ago, without warning, this gelding bogged his head in the middle of a heel run and bucked my uncle off. He landed on his knee, and hasn't been able to ride since. Since he's seventy-five years old, its even more upsetting, cause we all heal slower as we get older.

Anyway, I hope you heal up quickly and are back on your horse again soon.

Hannah said...

As a warning, this may get long. I ride with a precision mounted drill team, and one of our options for an extra (kind of like an elective in school) class is called Liberty. In it, the idea is to ride a drill bareback, bridleless (with a wire around the neck for steering), and pop over low jumps. Here's a video of it at a show: That's my class...I'm on the bay and white paint that you see tossing her head early on. Because it's a show, I left her bridle on (she's crazy), but in our practices, I usually take it off.

Almost exactly one year ago I took her bridle off in a practice for the first time (well, first time with me. I lease her, so she had been ridden without the bridle before, but not much). As I said before, she's crazy. She's 6 and still doesn't understand "slow", especially without a bit in her mouth. Our first bridleless practice went fairly well...until we had a moment when we went across the arena, and there were other riders where we were aiming, but not in our way (there was about 6 feet between them and the arena fence). I was asking her to go closer to the the point that had she had the bridle on, she would have pretty much run into the fence...but we were headed across the arena at a nice canter...until she decided that that wasn't fun and she wanted to RUN! She ignored my steering directions and cut right next to the rider closest to the fence. She cleared it with enough space for her, not for her with me sitting on her. I was knocked off balance (and of course lost any sort of control I had) and hung on for a few more feet until there was a clear space next to me, and bailed. There was no way I was going to stay on at that point, so I decided to fall off where I wouldn't hit or be stepped on by another rider. (I landed on my side, but I popped right back up. We were going fast, but she's only 13.3) As soon as I dropped from her, she stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me with a look that clearly said, "Umm. That was my fault, wasn't it? I'm sorry mommy...don't be mad!" It was so comical that I had to laugh at her. Anyway, I hopped back on and finished the practice (there was only about 15 more minutes) still without the bridle and she was very well behaved (though far from perfect...she was only 5 after all, at that time.) Since then I've taken her bridleless loads of times with no issues (but not in shows, she's still crazy) and I haven't fallen off of her since.

It wasn't the first time someone fell off of her, but it was the first for me. She doesn't always stop, and she doesn't always realize it's her fault (and of course it isn't always her fault). It was more comical than anything else and it really built my trust in her.

Do heal soon and get back on!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your fall!
It reminds me of the fall I had the other day. My mare is nearly 4 years-old and I've been training her ever since I got her, a bit more than a year ago. She knew nothing of anything! She'd wear a halter but would run on your heels when leading, did not know how to walk on a lead, still working on gettin gher to SLOW DOWN!!!

She is still pretty unphasable on the trails, roads and around any kind of noise, so I'm not at all worried when I ride her now, she's just like an old horse but with a bit more fizz.

I rescued two standardbred horses from the meat in the spring and after putting some weight back on them and giving them proper hoof care, I decided to start training the bay mare, since the other mare (18 y-o) just foaled a weak jet black colt (he didn't make it and left us 9 days after birth). I rode her a few times and then got my sister to ride her and took my faithful mare to help get through tough spots (water, scary shadows, etc.) The standardbred is 16 years old.

Everything was going real well in our ride and the girls were going good. So since the big Bay mare (16.3 hh) wasn't in much of a shape, we decided to end our ride there and go back to the barn... but I decided that a little canter in the field wouldn't hurt. So we set off, the bay mare at a quick pace (yeah, she's a pacer!) and I got my mare into a quick galop to keep up with the racing pace. Next thing I knew, the big bay mare shied at something and turned quickly... knowing my mare, I braced for a turn too, but she decided to go straight... after I had cleared all danger, I relaxed and kept looking at what could've spooked them... Then, my mare decides that she's scared too and veers quickly to join the bay. I wasn't prepared, still galoping (I was in the process of stopping her, these events above all happened in a second or two), so I went flying sideways... and yes, time was really slow...

I kept talking to myself the whole way down (my mare is just 15.1 hh) and it went a bit like this: "Oh no, I'm falling off", "Let go of the reins", then I felt a sharp pain un my ankle and shortly after that, I fell hard to the ground on my right shoulderblade. Tumbling a bit and completely out of breath, I couldn't get passed the pain in my ankle. My mare stopped right there and waited for me, she's an angel! After a minute of thrashing around the ground trying to move my ankle and get up, I finaly took my breath back (of course it felt more like 5 minutes without air!) I told my sister, that was now standing beside me, holding both horses, that I couldn't get up, but that my foot or ankle was not broken. She helped me up, I couldn't walk... so, I got back on my horse from the off side, since my left ankle would support my weight in the stirrup, finaly got on (I'm no off side person!) and rode back to the barn. I untaked my mare, brushed her and put her back to the pasture, all the while feeling my ankle swell in my boot.

I went inside the house, wrapped my ankle and went to bed. My guy had some old crutches lying around, so I took them to get around. I did not see a doctor, kept doctoring my ankle as bset I could. Sprains hurt! I broke my arm once and I think the pain is similar.

NOTE: We had the foal from our rescue a month after we got her, the mare was extremely thin and the foal must've lacked important nutrients in his development, he had a deformed back and / or back legs and we had to get him up to feed, bottle feed him and care for him day and night, the mare was thin and tried her best to care for him... after nine days of battle, the foal passed in the morning, quietly. I kept him company in his last minutes. Our vet is more than an hour away (closest) and he did not make it in time. I now know how people feel when they loose a foal, young life is not supposed to leave this earth so soon. I was heartbroken, still am today. Sorry for the long post!

Jami Davenport said...


Yes, I agree, sprains seem to hurt as much as a break, though, but the pain doesn't last as long.

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. I'm sorry to hear about the foal. That is hard to take.