Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frustration and more falling

Humpty Dumpty sat on a horse.
Humpty Dumpty fell, of course.

That's how I feel right now. I fell again yesterday — that makes 12 times, now! — and this time I'm making up for not being sore lately, as I fell in the field and didn't have that wonderful arena sand to cushion my fall. This time was anything but graceful, too, so there goes my theory about getting better at falling! Nope, instead I fell flat on my tailbone and lower back — you know, right where your butt crack starts. Somehow I also managed to get a foot stuck in the reins as I fell (???) and broke them. Dammit.

This has been four days in the making. On Friday I had a lesson and we rode in the outside arena, and Panama was an absolute spaz. I've been doing arena work almost exclusively in the indoors, and as a result he's very well behaved in there, but cannot seem to focus outside. He won't bend, won't keep a steady pace, falls in with his right shoulder going to the right, etc. We worked on it for quite a while on Friday.

Saturday morning, my grandfather died, so I thought I'd go out to the barn for a little horse therapy. I don't know if it was my mood or his, but Panama was awful! I rode him for well over an hour, most of it spent fighting with him over whether he was going to cut the corner and speed up at the same place every single time.

Eventually I realized he was starting to worry about that spot because he always got in trouble there, so I had Michael stand at the rail right there, and we did several walking circles where we stopped to talk to him — to get Panama to associate that spot with stopping and resting, rather than speeding up and getting in trouble. After that, I was able to get him to walk through without changing his pace or throwing his shoulder in, so I called it a day — I was afraid if we trotted it would fall apart all over again.

Sunday was actually pretty good. On my trainer's suggestion, I worked on the same thing, but at the opposite end of the arena, away from the "bad" spot. Panama did reasonably well — perfect to the left, and only needing a little bit of work to the right. We accomplished in just half an hour what we couldn't do in an hour and a half the previous day. I wanted to make a point about how easy it is when he gives me what I want, so we quit as soon as I got it.

So I was very pleased when I went out to ride yesterday, thinking we were well on our way to getting over his disorganization in the outdoor arena. I did manage to get some good work done with him in the arena yesterday, working on rounder circles to the right (which requires him to keep his shoulder up instead of letting it fall in) — we got it at the walk, but the trot took a lot of work and the canter was so hopeless I stopped trying, figuring we had to get it at the trot first, anyway! He's so good about it to the left — I wish I knew how to explain to him that I just want the same thing in the other direction.

After I finally got a halfway decent trot circle, I decided to reward him with a little ride in the field. I want to eventually be able to take him a short distance on the trail by ourselves, so I figure we can start out by riding alone in the field. We did this last week and he was fine with it. Yesterday, not so much.

I think it may have been the wind in the weeds that spooked him. The first time he bolted, I was able to get him back under control, and we walked back through the spot where he'd taken off. He was definitely antsy, so I thought I'd work through it some more with him. But when he bolted the next time, I wasn't able to pull him back down. I was pulling so hard I was pulling myself forward, and he didn't care.

I tried to turn him left into a one-rein stop, but then realized he had too much speed at that point, and let up. He shot back to the right and I felt it unbalance me. I remember thinking, "Maybe I should bail?" and I swear, my body decided that was a good idea and did it without my permission! It was like I got behind and then let him go, and he rode right out from under me. I fell on the upper part of my butt and my lower back, and scraped up my elbow. There was no rolling or soft footing to absorb the impact. I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes.

It knocked the wind out of me and hurt like the dickens, and it took a few minutes before I was able to get up. A couple other boarders went and caught Panama for me (who had kept running as he thought if I was going to turn into a mountain lion and start chasing him). I took him inside and we rode in the indoor arena for about 20 minutes — heck if I was going to let him end on that note!

He clearly knew he'd been bad and spent that 20 minutes trying to show me how good and SLOW he could be — so slow, in fact, that I had to keep clucking to him to ask for more speed! Once there was a huge crash of something hitting the outside wall of the arena, and he started to spin and bolt. I remember thinking, Oh no, not again! But about halfway through the spin, he slammed on the brakes and just stood there, like he remembered he wasn't supposed to do that. I was very proud of him for that — it almost made up for his idiocy in the field.

Anyway, I was pretty sore last night, though riding after the fall did seem to help loosen everything up in my lower back. I came home and started popping ibuprofen and alternating between heat and ice — ice to reduce swelling, heat to prevent stiffening and soreness and to promote healing. I was sure today I'd be even worse, but to my surprise, it's better.

Which is good, because I have a lesson this afternoon!



At August 17, 2010 at 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch! Hope the soreness eases up soon - I've fallen that way before and it really hurts. Despite the fall, it sounds like a lot of the other work went well this week, so remember that. A lot of what he has going on sounds like young horse stuff, and needing somewhere to put his energy and nervousness.

At August 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks, Kate. My trainer said pretty much the same thing -- she said that even though he is showing signs of growing up, to remember that he's still a baby in a lot of ways.

My lesson went better, as in, I stayed on the horse. My trainer also rode a little to help out, since it was as much a day for training him as training me. It took the entire hour, but we did get him to start slowing his pace and collecting at the trot. No cantering today. We might try a trail ride tomorrow, but I'll ride him first and make sure he's in a mood to behave himself!

At August 17, 2010 at 4:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Aww sorry you've been falling off so much. It's part of becoming a rider, especially if you start with a young horse.
Hes still a young horse and young horses are going to do young horse things. I rode our 2 year old Stormy for the first time today and she was so excellent other than trying to pop her shoulder out and veer towards the gate she got it after a few laps. We walked, trotted and cantered and she was great I completely forgot I was riding a 2 year old until she leapt 5 feet to the side at the wind monsters in the bushes next to the pen. Other than that her only hiccup. I need to remember shes still 2, even though shes well behaved.

At August 17, 2010 at 4:16 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Sydney, how nice for you that riding Stormy went so well! That's where Panama trips me up too -- the baby behavior has gotten less common now and I forget he is still capable of it. In certain environments, such as in the indoor arena, he doesn't act like a baby at all, so it throws me for a loop when we move out of that environment and the baby behavior comes right back!

At August 18, 2010 at 11:37 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm sorry about your grandfather and your fall. It sounds like you are figuring out how to fix Panama's problems, and Panama is making progress. I'll bet he was going slow, because he was afraid to hurt you again.

At August 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM, Blogger JennyB said...

Oh no! I'm sorry you fell and so sorry for your loss. Your fall actually sounds almost EXACTLY like my last fall right down to what part of me I fell on and everything! Unfortunately I fell onto Texas dirt packed like concrete with a fair amount of rocks in it so one part of my lower back is still really painful. It's great to hear that you're recovering from your fall better than I did!


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