My trainer and I were recently talking about the last time we were bucked off of horses. My last time sent me to the emergency room. Here's how it went down, or rather, how I did. Down to the ground.
Every year in our area there is a big team dressage show. Anyone can enter their horse in the show, but there is a team competition aspect to the show. Teams of four enter certain classes at the show and then the lowest score for each team on each day is dropped. The rest of the scores are added up and the team with the highest score is the Champion. There are ribbons and nice prizes, plus some cash. It's really a lot of fun to cheer your team on.
This one year I was on a team with my trainer, her mom, and another gal at the barn. We had all been on a team the year before, and we were Champions that year. This girl, C, had recently purchased a new horse, and this would be her second show on him. About a week before the show she said she was sick and wouldn't be able to show her horse. We all thought it was a little strange that she didn't think she'd be better in a week, but she was convinced that she could not ride. So rather than scrap the whole thing, we decided to juggle our team a little and have my trainer's mom, M, ride my horse and I would ride C's horse. M would still show her horse but the scores just wouldn't count toward the team, and since we only had three people on the team there would be no drop score. The pressure was on!
The week before the show I rode C's horse and took a couple of lessons on him. We were doing first level, and he wasn't exactly easy to ride. Kinda pushy and a little bullheaded, but I thought I could put in a decent test on him. M rode my horse and he was really good for her, so things were looking up for us.
We got to the show and I was warming this horse up. He was being quite a pig in the warmup, and if I remember right he bucked and kicked out at another horse in the warmup ring. I was getting a little nervous, but I just thought that the test might suck and I might screw the team over. Turns out any score would have been better than what happened.
We started our test, first level test 2, I think. Things were going fine until we headed across the diagonal of the ring for a lengthening of stride at the trot. The horse grabbed the bit and took off bucking. I was able to stop him by turning in a circle, and since I went off course I rode back to the judge and asked her where she wanted me to restart the test. She asked if I wanted to continue, and I said yes. So she had me re-do the lengthening and continue from there. We were able to do that, no problem. About 3 movements further in the test there was another lengthening of stride across the diagonal. I was nervous going into it, but I was prepared for him to be naughty. I had no idea how naughty he'd be.
We started across the diagonal, and this time when he grabbed the bit he meant business. He really bucked hard and bolted towards the end wall of the arena - which was covered in mirrors. This horse wanted me off, and he intended to get nasty about it. I had lost my seat and knew I was coming off this time, but I really wanted to come off MY way, not his. He kept twisting and bucking and I was thinking "I want OFF of this animal! The second he goes straight I need to bail." But it was too late at that point. He bucked hard and I flew off to the right. I hit the ground really hard on the back of my pelvis, and my helmet flew off.
There is a certain feeling you get when you fall off of a horse. It's a huge adrenaline rush as you're flying through the air (the OH SHIT moment), followed by pain as you hit the ground and the taste of dirt in your mouth. Usually my first thought is "DAMMIT!" because I hate falling off. This time, however, my first thought was "Oh god, he's loose. Please don't let him run me over!", because I think this horse would have happily stomped me into the ground. My trainer vaulted over the wall and came running towards me. I was saying "My back! My back! Catch him! Don't let him run over me!" and L was saying "Don't worry about the damn horse! Just don't move!" I was really worried at that point that I had seriously hurt my back. I had hit the ground so hard and it was hurting so much that I thought something might be broken. I started to cry.
L got to me first, and then other people came running. I kept lifting my head to see if they had caught the demon-steed, and L kept saying "Please, don't move! Don't worry about the horse!" One person who showed up was some sort of official at the show. I never really knew what her exact title was, but it was something to do with a nurse or EMT or something. Anyhow, I was lying in the dirt and she was asking if I could move my legs. I did, and was starting to calm down. My back still hurt, but not as much, so I decided to sit up. L and her mom were protesting, telling me to lie still, but I was saying that I thought I was okay. The nurse lady was saying "If she says she's okay then let her do it!" I could tell L was getting pissed at this lady, and was saying "I really think you should just stay where you are."
I sat up anyway and for the first time I realized that the show had come to a grinding halt and everyone in the stands was staring. Even people in the warm up were sitting on their horses watching the scene unfold. Now, you'd think that someone getting bucked off at a horse show is a common occurance. It might be at other shows, but it's pretty rare at dressage show, so this was a treat for everyone. Except me. I started to get really embarassed. It was my fault that the show was stopped and that nobody could show their horse until I got out of the ring. That's when I decided I needed to get out of the ring NOW.
I started to stand up, amid many protests from people around me (except nurse-lady, who seemed fine with it). I didn't care how it happened, but I wanted to get out of the ring so that the show could go on. See, at dressage shows you are given a specific time that you will be riding your test. Based on this time you warm your horse up at a certain time before the test. Since I had held up the show, the times would all be off and people who were currently warming up would have too much time in the warm up ring. With some horses this wouldn't have mattered, but some horses need a very specific warmup routine to perform at their best.
I can't really remember how I got out to the lobby of the arena, but I remember sitting in a chair when someone came up to me and said "Do you want to go to the hospital?" I said no, that I thought I'd be okay. I was informed that the ambulance was en route, so I might as well let them look at me. So, fine, they can look at me. What harm would that be?
The EMT's showed up and they were very nice. They strongly recommended that I go to the hospital to have my back x-rayed, so I agreed. They put me in a neck brace and strapped me tn a back board and then I see one of them coming at me with a roll of tape. Here's how that went -
ME: (nervously) What are you doing with that?
EMT: I have to tape your head down while we drive to the hospital.
ME: (starting to panic) I really don't want you to.
EMT: Well, we have to just in case you have a neck injury.
ME: (really panicing, now that I'm strapped to the backboard) Please don't!
EMT: I'm sorry, but we have to.
ME: (crying and freaked out) THEN I'M NOT GOING!
The EMT looked at the other guy, who shrugged. They both looked at me, the poor little dirty crying girl, and the one guy said "Okay, I won't. But you have to promise not to move your head. Deal?" I swore that I'd be good and not move as long as they didn't strap my head down. I don't know why this sent me into such a panic. I was fine with being strapped to the back board, but having my head taped down just sounded super scary to me. Makes no sense to me even now, so don't expect a better explanation than that.
In case you're counting, that's big scene #2 that I'd be making at the show, because of course the lobby was crowded with people seeing what was happening to the girl who bit dirt.
The ride to the hospital was uneventful, since I kept my promise and didn't move my head. Not ONE INCH, cause I knew that dude still had the tape and wouldn't hesitate to use it. X-rays showed that I wasn't broken, and I was sent home. There's a funny story about how my husband found out about the whole thing (he wasn't at the show that day), but that's a story that he can tell.
The next morning my back was sore, but more alarming was that my left knee was swollen to an enormous size. One visit to an orthopaedic surgeon and an MRI later, I was diagnosed with a torn median collateral ligament. Kind of hard to tear, from my understanding. I was off of riding for 8 weeks, during which time my trainer rode Kaswyn. Every now and then it bothers me, but nothing serious.
C ended up selling Mr. Nastypants and buying a much nicer horse. Last my trainer heard the horse was in Florida being a jumper. I guess the bastard is happier jumping than doing dressage. Whatever keeps you from killing people, dude.
To this day I think Craig is very nervous when I say that I rode another horse besides my own. In fact I was very nervous on other horses for quite awhile, especially at the canter. Never with my horse though. Because it's Kaswyn - he'd never hurt me. Right, L?
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