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Thursday, December 06, 2012: A Tale of Whoa

When I began (in my head) composing this dispatch, the first sentence originally read “For Sale, Nine year old Icelandic mare. $5,000.00 or best offer.” I have since decided to hang onto Raudi, the horse I was thinking about parting company with. But at that moment in time, I would gladly have taken a check, cash, or money order.

This afternoon, after finishing chores, I prepared to take Raudi for a ride. I tied her up to the hitching post, groomed her, and put the new sheepskin saddle pad in place. I then put the saddle on top of the pad. I next tightened the girth, but left it somewhat loose. I’d been told that this would make for a better fit.

Off we went, down the road, Raudi, Jenna, Rainbow, and I. We got to the trailhead. I dismounted, unsnapped Rainbow’s lead, and climbed back on Raudi. Dog, human, and horse continued down-trail. Then, all the sudden, Raudi stopped, pricked her ears forward, and raised her head high. This meant that she thought something was out there.

I couldn’t see anything because the sun was in my eyes. I figured that because the dogs didn’t bark and give chase that she was bluffing. I squeezed her with my legs, and then slapped Raudi on the rump with my crop. She refused to move. I slapped again, and she moved on, this after giving a few chufs. A chuff means that an animal is within smelling distance. Still, I gave Raudi’s actions little mind.

We turned onto a side trail, and I thought, put the animal behind us. I started to gather the reins with my overly thick gloves. It was then that Raudi bolted. This was not a half-hearted canter, but rather an all-out gallop. I tried, but I could not stop her. I felt my saddle slip, and yelped. Raudi leapt forward, and I went flying off her back. I remember thinking, I’m coming off and there’s nothing I can do about this.

The back of my head connected with the ground. When finally, I came to consciousness, I first wiggled my fingers and toes, and then my arms and legs. Then gingerly, very gingerly, I moved my head and neck. Both hurt some, but I was pleased to not have fared worse. Raudi was, by now, long gone. The dogs were both hovering, wondering I suppose, if they should take off after the horse or stay with me. They stayed put, not out of loyalty, but because they are older dogs, and as such no longer feel the need to expend energy on witless endeavors like chasing errant horses. Me neither. However, unlike animals, humans (of which I am one) are motivated by what some call a moral obligation.

I struck out on the trail, first figuring that Raudi might want to do the loop by herself. I then realized that she’d head for home. I returned to the trailhead, and put Rainbow back on-leash. I must have been a sad sight. My bent glasses sat crooked on my nose, and I shuffled along, with my shoulders downward. No, it’s not every day one falls off their favorite riding horse.

Had anyone stopped, I would have told them what had happened, and then made them an offer that they could not refuse. Looking back, I would not have had any regrets about doing this. My thinking was that someone else could do better by her. I have plenty of other horses to ride.

I figured that if Raudi wasn’t home, that I’d tack up Tinni and go for a ride. This way, I’d be able to salvage a part of the riding day. I didn’t have to do this. Raudi, who’d beat me home, was at the hitching post, eating her remaining hay. For some odd reason, maybe it was her lack of remorse, I was suddenly pissed. I marched up to where she was standing, took away the hay bucket, and tied her to the hitching post, so that she could not eat.

I removed the saddle and pad, then strode over the tack room and got the lunge line and whip out. Into the enclosure we went, bent-out-of-shape human and concerned horse. I lunged her one way, at the walk, trot, and canter, and then the other way. I did not do this for very long, rather, just long enough to establish a connection. It wasn’t my original intention to establish a connection – I just wanted Raudi to expend some energy. But that is what happened.

I hadn’t previously given it any thought. But right then I decided that I’d go with my original plan, and that we’d go for a trail ride. And so, this is what I did. Raudi spooked a bit when we came to the spot where she’d previously lost it. I dismounted, walked her a few hundred yards, and then remounted. The rest of what was a somewhat long ride was uneventful. She didn’t again attempt to bolt. We bushwacked some, and crossed some nasty ice overflow. And Raudi trotted nicely when we were on the upper road.

I put her away once we got home, and took Mr. Tinni out. By now, the sun was low in the sky. I rode him bareback, on a part of the trail that I’d just taken Raudi on. He was a bit more chipper than usual, maybe because he’s now getting glucosamine.

As I rode, I realized that I could have put Raudi away, come inside, and posted an ad on Craig’s List, saying that she was for sale. But I did not. Instead, I took matters into my own hands, and did what I could to rectify the situation. I suppose that some would say that I ought not have gone back out onto the trail alone. But at the time, it felt like the right thing to do. And after, it was the right thing to do. This is why this dispatch has a happy ending. For sure, this tail of whoa could of have a differing ending.

It may have been that my going to yoga this morning put me in the near correct frame of mine. I did, after the fact, act in a logical fashion. Or perhaps I knew what to do because I’ve been down this road before. I do not know, and I really never will know.

I do not think that Raudi was consciously attempting to dump me. Plain and simple, something was out there, and she wanted to put it far, far, behind her. She’s a prey animal, and like prey animals, fears being eaten. She was doing what horses do, and I can’t begrudge her that.

I suppose that I should invest in a cellphone, just in case something like this again happens when I’m out on the trail. I was lucky. I could have been hurt. I was also wise. I wore my helmet. It’s a good helmet. Pete and I wavered before purchasing it, but I’m now glad that we did. Otherwise, I would not be here, writing this dispatch.

Next: 361. 12/12/12: Hrimmi weighs in