Sunday, April 20, 2008

My first trail ride on Panama

After falling off my horse, we all went back to the driveway to regroup.

This entire time is still somewhat of a blur in my memory, but I remember that everyone kept asking if I was okay. "I'm fine," I kept saying dismissively. I was more interested in soothing Panama: stroking his neck, hugging him, talking to him. I can't even tell you how relieved I was that he hadn't gotten hurt.

Pretty quickly, the conversation turned to whether we should still go on our trail ride. I remember telling them that I wanted to, but I don't recall who mentioned it first. We discussed how to go about crossing the road again, and decided it would be best for me to walk Panama across.

Panama was a little nervous walking across the road, and once we were across, he kept leaning his shoulder into me. I'm not sure if he was trying to lean on me for reassurance (something baby horses sometimes do), or if he was trying to shoulder me toward home. It could have been a little bit of both.

Anyway, I mounted up once we were about 30 feet down the hill from the road. From then on, Panama was a little nervous at times, but overall he did great. He seemed to be pretty secure following one or both of the other horses. Most of the time we rode with someone in front, someone in back, but there were also times when we brought up the rear.

On the trail today, Panama conquered almost all of his fears: He walked right by screaming kids, dogs, and bicycles, all without jumping or throwing me again. A couple of times a felt him tense up beneath me, but usually his frantically flicking ears were the only things that betrayed his nervousness. I talked to him the entire time, so they kept flicking back to listen to me, and I think that helped to keep him grounded.

The only fear that kept him a little jumpy was the wind. It picked up toward the end of our ride, and every time a strong gust blew past us, he pranced and trotted nervously. That happened about half a dozen times, and I'm honestly not sure whether he stopped because the wind died down, because he started to get over his fear, or just because he noticed the other horses were walking calmly.

When we got back to the barn, Susie and Karen decided to back out, having cut their ride a little short (and a little slow) for me and Panama. I took off all Panama's gear, brushed him, and put him in his stall with a little carrots and grain. He was back to acting like his usual affectionate self, nickering to me in greeting and to ask for his treats.

After that, I turned Panama back out into the pasture. Two of the other horses, his "girlfriend" and the other gelding who is interested in her (my horse is part of a love triangle!), came right up to him. The mare stood facing him so that their necks crossed, while the gelding sniffed him from nose to tail, like he was checking him over for injuries.

It was as if they knew about the accident, even though there was no way they could have seen.

Apparently satisfied that everything was okay, the three of them walked over to their favorite sunbathing corner. I stood watching them for several minutes before finally heading home to finally find out how badly I was hurt.

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