Yesterday I had a very challenging ride on Phil. I had the day off so I went out to the barn in the morning to ride. I decided to give Kaswyn the day off and put him outside with a buddy for an hour or so while I rode Phil. Well, Phil objected to that is a big way. He really thought HE should be going out too. So when I went to get on him he was spastic, crabby, and totally unfocused. I was trying to just get him through the ride without having a huge issue.
We were about five minutes into the ride and I decided to canter him. I seem to be able to make a better, more consistent contact at the canter. I was hoping that cantering would focus him and get him to relax a bit. We cantered in a circle at one end of the arena.
Then a few things happened in quick succession. First, there was a horse walking outside by the door, which he saw as we passed the door. This made him speed up. I gave him a half-halt, which he didn’t accept. Instead he threw his head in the air and dropped his butt, just as we were going through the corner. This caused him to kick dirt on the wall behind us as we were coming through the corner, and that spooked him. He really took off then, for the first time in a long time. His head was up in my face and he was running blind. I look my left rein and jerked it hard, because we were headed right for the wall. He raised up his front end and came down hard, right next to the wall. This completely unseated me. I lost both stirrups. Then he jumped hard away from the wall to the left, sending me off the saddle to the right. I was literally hanging off with one leg slung over the seat of the saddle. But I refused to give up and fall off. I did the only thing I could do.
I climbed that horse’s neck like a monkey in a tree.
Right hand full of mane, left hand grabbing rein, I tried to pull him away from the wall. But now he was TOTALLY LOSING HIS MIND. He was bolting, jumping, scared to death, not sure what the hell was actually happening. I managed to get back in the saddle, but still no stirrups, and he was still jumping around. My hand got tangled in the mane and I raised it up to get it loose, and he bolted to the right.
His head came up as he bolted and smacked me in the side of the head. This knocked me over to the left, and it was a repeat of what had just happened – grabbing mane and neck, hanging off the saddle with one leg (this time to the left), pulling the rein to stop him.
I didn’t want to do it, but I grabbed the right rein and used it to pull me back into the saddle. Then I finally was able to stop him.
I got myself back together, gave him a second to get his mind back in gear, and then I patted him. And we moved on like it never happened. I just remember my trainer always saying “It doesn’t matter.”, when things like this happen. He got scared. We got ourselves into a pickle. The very worst thing I could do at that point would be to punish him. So we just carried on.
It was very hard for me to relax and just ride after that, but I did the best I could. Yeah, it was scary. For him too, I’m sure. But we actually got some pretty nice work in after that. Not perfect, but it was acceptable.
Nobody actually saw the scene. I kind of wish there was video of it. I'd love to see how that whole thing looked! When I told the Barn Manager about it, she said "Well, I heard that's why God gave Arabian horses long manes. So we can stay on." So true! I think I'd have been in the dirt if he didn't have that long mane to save me.
My eye is very sore where he smacked me in the head, but other than that I’m fine. I didn’t even get a black eye! Yay me! Thankfully we have a lesson on Thursday. I can’t wait. We need it really badly!
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