Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blunders and Near-Wrecks

When I was a young teen and knew no better, I walked right up behind a mare and she kicked me in the chest - hard enough to leave a hoof print on my shirt. I stood in the corral for a few minutes with the wind knocked out of me, not truly cognizant of the fact I had been inches away from broken ribs or a severe head injury. But it truly scared me, and I learned my lesson (the hard way) never to walk up behind a horse without speaking to it, and never from directly behind, in the horse's blind spot.

Now, when I'm teaching young people proper manners around horses (don't run and no sudden movements, keep your voices calm and steady, stay in close with your hand on their rump when you walk behind them, these are large animals and they can hurt you) I sound like a stern old fraidy-cat. In fact, my daughter used to chide me, "Mom, you have too many rules." But anyone who has been around horses for very long will get hurt at some point, and the rules come from not wishing those wrecks on other people.

But even after many years around horses, some of us who do know the rules make tiny mistakes that often cause a wreck, or a near-wreck. You know, those  moments when you think - Man, that could have been bad.

When I was in my twenties, and I'd had horses for a long time at this point, I was holding my saddled mare outside on the lawn. I needed to run inside for a moment (just a moment, right?) to grab something. I've long since forgotten what it was that was so important, but there was no good place to tie my mare. (Yes, we all know the rules, right?) Always tie to something sturdy that the horse can't break, always tie high enough they can't get a leg over it, always tie short . . . well, knowing all this, and knowing that young women can be in a hurry to go riding, and knowing I had a good mare that never panicked, I tied her (just momentarily mind you) to the ring on the propane tank!

Of course I wasn't worried, because this was a good mare that never did anything wrong, so when I came back out with whatever it is that I grabbed, the mare had taken two steps backward and the propane tank was moving! I cannot tell you how many bad movie scenarios played through my mind in the next few seconds. All I know is that I walked quickly (with no sudden movements LOL) over to my mare, mumbling every soothing word I knew and quickly untied her. Whew! Disaster averted. Then I hit myself up the side of the head about seventeen thousand times, saying Stupid, stupid stupid! What was I thinking?? Well, obviously, I wasn't.

Fast forward many years later - to the present. Lots of caution used, many wrecks avoided, and now I have two sweet, charming donkeys in my barnyard, who never do anything wrong. On a pouring rain day (and I mean pouring buckets) I decide to brush the little darlings in their large stall. While I'm in there, I decide to dust them for lice. The lice powder is outside on a shelf in the aisleway. I go out the gate, close it briefly behind me, but I don't chain it because I am only five steps away from the shelf with the lice powder. (Are you catching my drift?) In those five steps, Mr. Big (named for his attitude, not his size) decides he is bored from the long days of rainy weather, and he should push open the gate and run outside. And he does!! (The little stinker.) Well, of course he's only going to go eat grass at the edge of the driveway, so I close and chain the stall door (so Mr. Chocolate won't get out) grab a halter off the peg, and walk out in the rain to catch sweet Mr. Big. No problem - not a big deal, right? Donkeys, like horses, are herd animals, and Mr. Big will not leave his buddy, Mr. Chocolate.

But Mr. Big decides he is really bored, and will dart down the driveway to see what is there. And what is there is a busy road where people drive 50 miles an hour. I madly dash through the rain back into the house, grab my car keys and prepare to follow Mr. Big up the road, and perhaps cut him off at the proverbial pass. But Mr. Big, thank God, decides it's too big a world out there and comes rushing back on his own. He trots right past me, going back up the drive-way, and I quick-like park my rig sideways, jump out and flail my arms at him. (At this point I am sopping wet, and I'm calling him a few choice names, also.)

Mr. Big allowed me to catch him after about ten minutes. I do not want to to say how wet we both are, or how big of a wreck that could have been, or what a squished donkey on the road out front might have looked like. I was so mad at Mr. Big I almost forgot to think - Why hadn't I latched the %$#*& gate?? But I DO NOT walk through that gate anymore without latching it behind me.

Ever had any Blunders, Wrecks, or Near-Wrecks that were actually Your Fault??

15 comments:

Kate said...

Yes - anyone who's been around horses for a while probably does. I've found that being in a hurry is a good recipe for disaster.

I was kicked in the jaw and arm a couple of years ago by our mare, because another boarder was in a hurry to turn her horse out and I was rushing. Instead of cross-tying her, I just dropped the lead and picked her feet - she was great for foot-picking. Except that this time, she was in heat, and took a step to the side and sniffed noses with another horse, and double-barrelled me. I was very close, so wasn't badly injured - just some lacerations, bruising, a mild concussion and some damaged teeth - it could have been worse. I certainly knew better, but I was in a hurry . . .

Linda Benson said...

Oh gosh, Kate, ouch, ouch, ouch. Yes, it could have been much worse, but it sounds bad enough as it was. And you are right - most of those stupid things that we do, or forget to do, are because we are rushing and in a hurry. That is reminder enough to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy our horses, and our lives . . .

Mare said...

I've been kicked, stepped on, smooshed, and thrown and received several injuries in the process, but the incident that truly sticks out in my mind as being honestly "scary," just so happens to have occurred when I was, of course, in a hurry.

I was bringing several horses in, and wasn't truly paying attention to the the task at hand. I'm sure I was off in some strange world. So I walked up and grabbed a mare from the field, but failed to notice the gelding charging up behind her. Unfortunately, she didn't notice him either, and when she finally does, she bolts forward and knocked me down and literally jumps over me., missing stepping on my head by mere inches. It was terrifying because I was in such a helpless position with loose horses around me. Thankfully I was able to get my mind on straight and get up before I was actually injured badly. I escaped with just some bruises and a need to regain my breath from having the wind knocked out of me...

Once Upon an Equine said...

Glad Mr. Big decided to turn around and go back to the barn!

I was in my Percheron's stall, just inside the stall door that opens into the barn aisle. I'd left the door open because I was just going to be in there for a second and I was right by the door and my mare was a few feet away - no harm in leaving the door open for a second or two, right? Wrong. She saw that open door (and probably the bales of hay on the other side of the barn) and decided to make her move. I stuck my arm out in front of her to stop her (yeah, like my arm is going to stop an un-haltered Percheron). She pushed right past me, catching my shoulder and arm between her body and the door frame. I thought, "Uh Oh, this gonna hurt" as my arm got bent backward as she moved forward through the doorway, smooshing my arm. Fortunately I ended up with just some bruising and nothing broken or dislocated. I'll never make that mistake again. When we let our guard down, they can take advantage of a situation in moments. And open doorways are a big temptation.

Linda Benson said...

Mare - I'm glad you were not hurt any worse. VERY scary to get knocked to the ground in front of loose horses.

And Once Upon - I shudder to think about your Percheron shoving against your arm like that. Yes, I think one of the reasons these wrecks happen, besides being in a hurry, is that we assume we know our animals well enough to predict their behaviour. (Oh, he/she would NEVER do that.) And then they prove us wrong . . .

FD said...

When I was seventeen, I got a hairline cheekbone fracture, my nose broken, a cracked molar, a concussion and the joint capsule on the side of my jaw ruptured. How?
I'd tied a quiet gelding to the fence, (safety release knot of course!) while I mucked his box out. When I went to collect him, he was straining his head down to nibble the grass growing at the base of the fence post. I leaned over to get at the knot, instead of making him pick his head up and back up to give me clearance.
Predictably, he spooked, flung his head up and accidentally smacked me in the face with his poll, sending me flying, literally - I landed about ten feet away.
Never made that mistake again.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Of course I have!!

One that quickly comes to mind is that while I was riding my half Arabian mare along the rail in the arena, I stopped at the gate and legged her with my inside leg. This caused her to step sideways away from the pressure and smash my leg right into the fence. Of course there was a sharp point in the fencing and I ripped my knee open pretty good. It was definitely my fault, I knew how sensitive she was to leg aids.

And then there's the time I went out riding on my three year old gelding, by myself, in a halter and tied lead rope reins. Can you say stoopid?? He spooked, bolted, and I bailed, on a gravel road, going down a hill, back towards the barn. I was unhurt- more or less- after I picked the gravel out of my hands and knees and washed off the scrapes. Oh yeah, I was in shorts too.

Dreaming said...

Oh, my, it is interesting to read about everyone's blunders... like Kate said, if we've been around horses we probably all have at least one of these!
I'm glad that everything worked out with Mr. Big. Doc & Pippin had a similar experience in early June: http://livingadream2.blogspot.com/2011/06/pippin-and-docs-excellent-adventure.html

Like FD I got a bonk on the head last year when I put a treat on the ground for Pippin. He is so mouthy I decided that I wouldn't give him treats from my hand. He didn't see the treat on the ground, so I leaned down to point it out to him... he swung his head into mine. The only casualty (luckily) was that my glasses were broken. However, LensCrafters was a bit skeptical about a 50+ woman breaking two pair of glasses within one week!

However...bear with me and this long comment... the absolutely, most ridiculous blunder I ever pulled - and I can only blame my ignorance, stupidity and youth, was deciding I could speed up the 'end of riding' process by taking the saddle off as I rode down the street to the barn. Yeah... how dumb was that?!! But, my horse was very quiet. I could simply reach down and undo the buckles of the girth... etc. I had it all figured out. But... I forgot that I had a martingale on, so while I was leaning way over, trying to work the girth out of the martingale loop, a kitten walked out of the weeds. Horse moved sideways...somewhat suddenly. I ended up in the weeds, with the saddle, whose girth did come out of the martingale (thank Heavens... or this stupid, stupid antic could have had far worse consequences, with rider riding a saddle being pulled along the shoulder of the road etc.
Although I sometimes wish for youth... I wouldn't want the immature brain that goes with it!!!!

mommyrides said...

I was a teen and had the most amazing gelding I think that ever walked this earth!!! He took such good care of me all the time, I was just toooooo comfortable. I was at a friend's horse in the front yard and I told him to hop up behind my saddle and I would take him for a ride. At the point a road grader came over the hill and I thought to myself "self this might not be a good thing I should get my friend off". But I didn't and my gelding who never spooked, or bucked or bolted, did all THREE!!! I landed hard and ended up with a cracked pelvis. But of course I didn't know that and being a teen and embarrassed I rode my horse home. I actually think I passed out a couple of times on the way back from pain. But I made it home, untacked him and put him away, then I proceeded to writhe in screaming pain on my parents living room floor.
You should never ignore that warning in your head. Sigh.....

Linda Benson said...

Oh FD, Ouch! That sounds like a bad wreck, and over such a dumb little thing. Darn! But it's those hard lessons that teach us to never do that again, huh? And lessons learned the hard way tend to stick! But no fun, for sure.

Linda Benson said...

Oh gosh, these stories! I hope only horse people are reading these, cause anybody else would think we are truly NUTS!

Fantastyk - I have a friend who rides her horses in a halter and lead (cause she trusts them) and I won't, won't, won't. It only takes once.

mommyrides - road graders and cracked pelvises sound awful. I'm writhing just hearing about it.

But Dreaming - excuse me for tears coming out of my eyes. Taking the saddle off while you are riding home? Oh My. That takes the cake, dear, for Stupid, Dumb, things we do when we were young. (sorry, but you get an award for that) *grin* How did we all even survive?? Someone must have been watching over us, that's for sure. Geeez . . .

Funder said...

A couple weeks ago I decided to wash my mare's filthy white (yellow) tail. I dunked it in soapy water til I got bored, but then I had this bucket of perfectly good soapy water, so I started pouring it on her back. No, I've never poured water on her back from a bucket before, why do you ask?

She came pretty seriously unglued and started trying to run from the monster on her rump. She didn't pull back, just started turning on the forehand really fast, toward me, in a blind panic. I was backing up as fast as I could, softly saying calm things, trying to catch my balance long enough to yank the bucket off her butt before we ran into the fence and I got squashed. I made it, barely, and she calmed right down... but it was almost really bad. Definitely a near-wreck.

Francesca Prescott said...

Once, on a very cold day, I dismounted while being snuggly covered by Kwint's rain-proof blanket, which was fastened by a super strong velcro in front of the saddle. I realised half way off that something was wrong, that my lower body wasn't free! Luckily, Kwint didn't spook when I landed in a jumble on the ground with the rain-proof blanket hanging off the side, still firmly velcroed closed. Could have been pretty nasty! I don't think Qrac would be quite so cool about something like that!

Alison said...

What great stories! I broke my arm at five on a horse, and then broke my back on a horse at sixteen so since then I must say 'cautious' has been my middle name.

RiderWriter said...

Wow, ladies, these are some pretty epic self-engineered boo-boos! :-) I agree - Dreaming, yours takes the cake for outright "what the HECK was I thinking" behavior. I remember those teen brain fog moments well... I walked clean off the side of a tall barn ramp one time while daydreaming about my first serious BF. Of course there were witnesses, who about wet their pants howling with laughter.

I have been extremely fortunate in my life with horses. Probably because I haven't ever had my own, so no chance for hurriedness on a daily basis. No major wrecks (*knocks on wood VERY loudly*) but a few dopey moments that resulted in pain. Just last month I was trail riding and took my mind just for a moment off the fact that Mr. Ginormous WB (friend's horse) doesn't fit down the trail too well without careful steering. WHAM! There went my kneecap into a tree. Felt super-good. I yelped in pain, and my friend took the opportunity to say, "It wasn't HIS fault!" Gee, thanks for the sympathy, but she was right! ;-)

I wound up with a lovely bone bruise that hurt for a week, but at least it wasn't busted. Now, I do have a crooked nose that wasn't that way, judging from photos, until I was about 13. I suspect one of the several times I got my face in the way of a horse head or neck is to blame but I'm not sure... never had to go to the Dr for one of those, but SOMETHING messed up my nose and I recall a few extremely hard knocks!