Sunday, November 1, 2009

SIX! and my first nighttime ride

Panama and I got a lot done this evening, so there is a lot to post about tonight — including, as it happens, my sixth fall off of Panama.

Since we set the clocks back last night, when I got to the barn a little after 4pm the sun was already pretty low in the sky. With the foothills so close in the west, it gets dark pretty quickly at the new place, so I realized I didn't have much daylight left. I can't tell you how nice it was to realize I'd be able to ride anyway!

Unfortunately, Panama didn't feel quite the same way. By the time we got tacked up, the indoor barn had been closed up for the night, with all the lights off. He balked a few times walking down the barn aisle, but we still had a little bit of daylight coming in to help us see, which I think helped. (The lights are badly placed: The lights to the aisle between the stalls are in the middle of the barn, and the light to the hallway that leads to the arena are all the way at the end of the hall, by the arena door.)

Turning down the dark hallway that led to the arena proved to be pretty much impossible. After trying for quite some time, I took Panama with me back to the entrance, shut the door so he couldn't escape, and left him sniffing noses with the other horses while I turned on all the lights. It still took some time to convince him the lights had scared all the monsters into hiding (ha), but eventually I got him down the hall and into the arena.

Although my trainer rode him in the indoor arena on Tuesday, he was a bit jittery in there tonight — not as much as he was last time, but still a little on edge. The biggest difference I noticed was that he settled in much faster. He was behaving very nicely, even collecting when I asked, and I could swear I caught him looking at himself in the mirrors a couple of times. (He's already demonstrated an awareness of the mirrors, and he is interested in his reflection rather than scared of it. I wonder what he thinks about when he sees himself?)

The one thing that didn't change from Tuesday was that he was still extremely sensitive to ANY leg pressure. I was working on the serpentine my trainer showed me on Tuesday, and the rapidly changing leg yields had him constantly wanting to speed up. So I walked him through the pattern several times, practicing the leg yields, and halted him every time he (incorrectly) tried to trot.

He seemed to be calming down a bit, so I decided to trot him around the entire arena once (no serpentine). When we were about even with the open door to the arena, I had the sudden sensation of the horse disappearing out from under me: He had stumbled and was going down. (I suspect it's because he was looking out the door instead of paying attention to where he was putting his feet, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a spook, since he very definitely was going down.)

He regained his footing a moment later, but not before I had lost my sense of balance. So when he came back up, it jostled me around. I pulled back on the reins, and — no doubt because of our frequent stops just a few moments before — he halted. Immediately.

I wasn't at all prepared for that fast of a stop, and I fell forward onto his withers. Panama went from halting to running, and I — having lost my balance and my seat — went bounce-bounce-WHEEEEEEEEcrash.

I landed on my side, mainly my hip, but it wasn't a very hard fall — I was back on my feet so quickly I can't even remember getting back up. Panama hadn't even made it quite halfway around the arena yet, so it definitely didn't take very long. I laughed and said his name, and he came back to me. I put my arms around his neck and could feel his heart pounding, but he wasn't jumpy at all. I think it was kind of a "duh" moment for both of us.

I made sure to get on again, although I only rode for about five more minutes. I had been concentrating so hard that we'd been riding for about 45 minutes, and I totally hadn't realized. I decided a little walking to calm down, and then a few (uneventful) trotting laps, would be a good way to finish up.

Then we had to reverse all of the beginning stuff. I dismounted and walked Panama around with me while I scooped up the little surprises he'd left all over the arena. He had some trouble walking back into the arena again with me when I retrieved the manure fork, but it didn't take as long that time. Then I closed up the arena and halted him right outside the lounge door, so that I could run inside and shut up the arena lights. (I didn't think the barn owners would appreciate a horse in the lounge.) To my surprise, he stood still and waited for me!

I shut off the lights and walked Panama down the darkened aisle. He seemed to trust me a little more this time, and didn't spook or try to walk on top of me. Since we were leaving, though, it's doubtful that he has gotten over it quite yet. I love having a place where we can ride at night, but we are definitely going to have to do this more often so that Panama gets used to going inside in the dark!

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3 Comments:

At November 2, 2009 at 8:17 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yeah, that is quite a convenience having an indoor arena. You can ride in both wet weather and at night. I'm glad you weren't injured when falling. There's not a lot you can do to prevent falling from stumbles beyond getting him collected, but even then horses still trip.

 
At November 3, 2009 at 10:38 AM, Blogger phaedra96 said...

Seems to me your little trailer accident horse is going to turn out to be the horse of a lifetime. He sounds like a very sensible horse. Did you ever think it would be like this back when he was a foal?

 
At November 4, 2009 at 4:09 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, don't jinx me! My last few falls haven't been very serious, so I'm sure I'm due for another painful one soon enough. Unless -- maybe that kick counts! :-D

It's funny how you have time for things to go through your head. When he first tripped I was thinking about the time when that happened to you and Bombay recently, but you were able to recover it by pulling back on the reins. Sadly, Panama screeched to a halt instead. :o) And then when I fell forward onto his neck, I kept thinking about all those YouTube videos of people being launched like that when their horses put their heads up again!

Phaedra, no, I had no idea when we rescued him at 11 months that he'd end up being such a good little horse, and such a huge part of my life. He is quite literally my best friend -- a relationship I definitely never anticipated!

 

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