Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 >Daily Dispatch #274

October 14, 2014: Lesson Learned: The Harder they Fall

Last night, at Beth’s, I came off Rosie. Since, I’ve been reconstructing what happened, in hopes of preventing this from happening again. It was an instance similar to what happened to Tinni and the cart. I am thinking that writing about this will reduce the odds of something like this happening to me, and as well, to those reading this.

As my story goes, yesterday afternoon I went for a trail ride with the Sihlers. Raudi was, as she has been lately, stiff and clunky when on the loop road. She’s been barefoot, will be shod on October 31. We did this in order to give her feet a break. We aren’t knowledgeable enough

to trim her feet so that she’s in balance, which is the problem.

After the ride, I got a phone message from Vickie saying that lesson was going to be held at Beth’s place. So we loaded Raudi up and headed on over there. Vickie didn’t give us a time in which the lesson would start because Beth didn’t give her a time in which the lesson would start. I asked Emily (Gracie’s owner) when lesson was scheduled to begin, and she said perhaps at 7 p.m., adding that Beth was first going to give a lesson to “a lady and her daughter,” two individuals who she’d previously worked with. Emily further speculated that the beginner lesson would take place at 7 p.m.

So I entered the arena at 6:45 p.m. Beth was already in there, instructing the lady and her daughter. As usual, I first walked around the perimeter of the arena with Rosie. I next (while still on the ground) did obstacle work with Rosie, going around cones to supple her, and over poles in order to make her aware of her feet. In doing all, I wanted her to become more focused, and pay closer attention to what I was asking her to do.

I next mounted up. The arena had been graded an hour previously. Still, there were slippery spots, puddles, and the usual rocks. I could immediately tell that this wasn’t to Rosie’s liking. She was extremely pacey and it was difficult getting her to trot.

As I worked, I finally understood the concept of a horse not being forward, meaning, not having contact on the bit. In Rosie’s case, this occurs when she’s evasive – either moving in a crooked line, or hanging back when I ask her to go forward. On my part, this was exciting because finally I saw how theory could be applied to practice. I used my seat, and urged her to move forward, into the bit.

By this time, it was the onset of dusk. Vickie appeared with June Bug aka Blind Melon Chitlin, and followed my lead, by walking her around a bit before mounting up. In a short bit she joined Beth and her two students. I followed suit. The child was riding Gracie, who Vickie and I elected to put in between June and Raudi. Gracie is plump, so we likened having her in the middle to being the center of a baloney sandwich.

Meagan then appeared on Jack, Beth’s large dark horse. We all began trotting over poles and overturned cavalettis, going in both directions. Rosie lifted her feet nicely in going over, but got tense and then rushy when the horses in front got too far ahead of her.

I was behind Gracie and approaching the ground poles when it happened – Raudi suddenly bucked hard, sending me flying off her right side. As I hit the ground, I heard a loud thud. My right hip and leg first connected with the ground, then the rest of me. I laid still for a second, stood up, and then staggered around for a bit looking for my horse. Emily had grabbed her for me.

Beth and the others in the arena asked if I was okay. I said yes, but I did mumble something about my sore hip. Beth suggested that I take Rosie and do some work with her in the round pen. I immediately said no, and added that the problem wasn’t excess energy – we’d gone for a trail ride earlier – the problem was that her feet were tender, and this was her way of expressing her frustration about having to work while in supposed pain.

I got back on Rosie. My hip felt better when I was riding. We continued going over the ground poles, both ways. By now it was dark and I could only discern the white poles on the dark ground.

Lesson ended. It was one of those instances in which I hadn’t gotten any useful feedback (this is luck of the draw), so I asked Beth point blank if there was anything that I might work on. Her response was forthright and absolutely brilliant. She told me to keep working with Rosie on keeping a safe distance from other horses by increasing contact when she speeds up, then releasing when she stays where I want her to be. “This way, she’ll stay back and realize that this is a comfortable space,” Beth said.

In hearing this, a dozen pieces of the horseback riding puzzle fell into place. I could do this – and in this way take better charge of my horse and the situation. I might also (if need be) circle Rosie or just make her stop and stand at the center of the arena.

Beth’s advice was worth the price of admission. I also realized that I could and should find other things to work on, should Beth’s attention be directed towards others.

As for my fall – I later had some other important realizations. I should have quit sooner, like when I knew for sure that the footing wasn’t to my or Rosie’s liking. This made me tense and increased her degree of tension. I also knew that this incident signaled the end of the lesson season for me. It’s too dark now to be riding at 7 p.m. at Beth’s. So I’ll wait until spring before going back there.

I’ll instead take advantage of having Tuesday and Friday nights free and work on Lessons Learned. This is making something positive out of something that is already partially positive.

Next: 275. 10/15/14: Moving Forward on a Sloppy, Gloppy Day