What in hell does this mean, anyways? My take is that those who (as I do) ride horses on a daily basis often part company with them. Got no pride, got no horse. Got no horse, got no worries. Got no worries, got no fear. Got no fear, got no hope. Got no hope, got no aspirations. Got no aspirations, got no future. Got no future, got nothing at all. So, get tossed off your horse and you might end up with less pride than you started out with.
Raudi tossed me again today, so I now lack pride. I didn’t know I had any pride. If I did, it went one way when I went the other. It was like the song, how does it
By Chris Romano--the illustrator of Raudi's Story
go? “Goodbye love, goodbye happiness, I think I’m going to die.”
This upheaval was a part and parcel of the day’s second outing. First off, I’d taken Raudi out at 10 a.m. and gone for a ride with Pete. He rode Tinni and ponied Hrimmi. We were nearing the Murphy Road Trailhead when my chestnut pony bolted. I breathed deeply, sat down in my seat, took up the left rein, and pulled her head back to into her shoulder. She slowed to a walk, and I asked her to trot. She picked up a trot and then bolted again. The second time we walked back a hundred yards or so, and then returned in a very controlled fashion back to the trailhead. Pete suggested that I take Raudi out later, which was what I did.
I came off the princess’s back at the exact place where she ran off the second time. It was dusk, 4:30 p.m. to be exact. As has lately been the case, the impending darkness caught me by surprise. In retrospect, it was a bad idea, me taking Raudi out for a later afternoon ride. She spooked, jumped to the side of the trail, spun around, and sent me flying like a red blood cell in a centrifuge. The words that crossed my mind as I took leave of the saddle were I’m falling. I hope I’ll be okay. Pete who is on his way to California has the cellphone. I then hit the ground hard.
I spit leaves out of my mouth, lay on my side for a bit, then assessed the situation. I wiggled my fingers and toes, nope, I wasn’t paralyzed. I moved my arms and legs, nope, I hadn’t broken any bones. I tightened and then loosened my hip muscles. Yep, it felt like someone had wacked it with a hammer. It would be workable in a few days and sore for another month. It was the same old same old. Horse and rider go their separate ways, horse is just fine, rider again screws up her hip. In doing research on helmets and head injuries, I learned that on an average riders come off their horses once every 350 hours. I wasn’t overdue – I’d fallen off two weeks before, and then two weeks before that. Rather, I was under due, meaning that I most likely wouldn’t come off again for, say, another six months, perhaps in the spring when the ground was wet, soft, and muddy. I could handle that.
Ryder, my border collie, bounded to my side and licked my face. I staggered to my feet, commended her for sticking close, clipped her leash onto her collar, and hobbled over to Raudi who was engrossed in eating a clump of dried dead grass. I wondered, could it be that our communicative bonds were on the upswing? She used to gallop home after unseating me. Each time, the sound of her parting hooves faded into the distance, their haha haha haha sound growing increasingly fainter. This time she’d remained close. Most likely this was because her saddle was now around her middle. I loosened the girth, put the saddle back in place, tightened the girth, and then took her dangling reins in hand.
I wasn’t mad, angry, or upset. Rather, I was mystified. Why had she spooked? As best I could figure, I had all three times, asked her to do something she didn’t want to do, in a place where she did not want to do it. We generally ride the same route, moseying along for three quarters of the ride. Then, on the last part, we canter, which is something that she does with considerable enthusiasm. On the previous two occasions I’ve requested that she trot. Why she instead chose to dump me is, and probably will remain, a mystery. What I now need is what I don’t have, which is immediate access to (take your pick) a chiropractor, saddle fit expert, and biomechanics expert.
And why had I come off? For the past month I’d been reading for two-three hours a night about the horse and rider mind/body relationship, focusing on the work of equestrian Sally Swift. She and others infer that staying in place goes hand in hand with being centered. And being centered involves the use of imagistic thinking. So yeah, I who formerly rode with slumped shoulders and an off-kilter seat, had straightened out my act; this so Raudi and I would remain in harmony with one another at all times. I’d done this by practicing grounding, that is by thinking of my legs as being like tree roots, extending deep into the ground, and my head as being like a tree top, extending way up into the sky. A lot of good this had done me – I’d nearly impaled myself on an upended tree branch.
Raudi, Ryder, and I began the half-mile trek home. I always walk this final stretch up Murphy Road and down Oceanview Drive. This is primarily my way of telling Raudi that I’m pleased with her efforts. Horses don’t feel remorse. I momentarily thought that perhaps she knew she erred in tossing me, for she didn’t, as she usually does, attempt to pull me in the direction of the now trampled roadside forage. But I, who know this horse better than I know myself, then came to my senses. Raudi equated this particular wrongdoing with not having gotten what she feels is her just desert -- which is a treat and copious praise.
We arrived home. I tied Raudi’s line to the hitching post, retrieved a flake of hay from the hayshed, and with considerable aplomb, laid it at her dainty little feet. Right then it occurred to me that Raudi and my parting of the ways hadn’t altered our relationship. Tomorrow afternoon, at an earlier hour, I’ll again take her for a lengthy ride. And perhaps once again I’ll test out the adage that pride goeth before a fall.
Next: 304. 11/1514: Reconsidering the Horse