Monday, May 2, 2011

One step forward, two steps back

I haven't blogged all weekend because I had a couple of disappointing rides Thursday and Friday — not to mention my first fall in months.

On Thursday we had a lesson.  We rode outside, which Panama had been doing very well with, until then.  I'd been using circling and the occasional one-rein stop to get him to stop speeding up going down the straight sides of the arena, and it had been working fairly well.  However, he has recently been worse about throwing his inside shoulder in and "falling" through his turns, so my trainer was having me halt and back him for speeding up instead.  Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that approach makes things worse, because he gets frustrated and tense, stops using his brain, and starts rushing even more.  It's kind of an "I'm getting in trouble so I don't want to do this anymore" response.

After the lesson ended, instead of finishing up right away I took Panama out into the field behind the arena.  I was pleased to see that right away, he became the same calm, relaxed horse that he was at the beginning of the lesson, before he got frustrated.  We did a few of the obstacles without any issues, even some that he was having trouble with a few weeks ago, when he was too hyped up to go on a trail ride.  Then we crisscrossed back and forth through the field, and he stayed calm and relaxed — a big step, since the last time I rode him alone in the field, he bolted and I fell.  I was glad the ride ended on such a positive note, but I was still frustrated from the lesson, because since he'd started rushing again, I felt like we'd taken several steps back from the progress we'd made outside so far this year.

On Friday several of us met out at the barn for a trail ride, but it was windy and two boarders decided to ride inside.  Spaghetti's owner and I chose to ride our horses in the field for a little bit.  We started out in the outdoor arena, moving into the field when we were sure they were going to be good, and then went out into the field.  The wind seemed to have calmed a bit, and they were still so relaxed and happy that we decided to go a short distance on the trail.

It was a lovely trail ride, right up until it wasn't anymore, if you know what I mean.  We discussed turning around several times, and each time decided that they were being so good, we'd go a short distance farther.  Then we passed the riding stables in the park, which for some reason made Panama very tense and anxious — I think they might have put a new piece of farm equipment out front.  At the end of the pasture, we stopped to wait for Spaghetti, but the wind chose that moment to pick up in a BIG way.

Panama tucked his butt under and scooted forward, so I turned him to face into the wind.  He didn't like that either, and turned back around, but then the wind blew up his butt again.  He was trying to bolt, so I used one rein to pull his head around, and we spun and spun and spun.  I was starting to lose my balance a little from the crazy spinning, and he kept dancing around in a way that was throwing me forward in the saddle, A few times I wrestled him back under control, only to have him start up again.

And then I realized the wind was blowing the hood of my jacket up so that it flapped against my helmet.  I'm pretty sure that's what finally did it.  After a few more spins, Panama simply took off with his head cranked to the side.  He was panicked beyond trying to listen to me.  I realized we were headed for the road, and I think that realization was why I ended up falling — whether because I decided to give up or simply because the fear made me freeze up, I have no idea.  I did try to hang onto the reins as I fell, hoping he'd stop, but when I realized I was being dragged I let go.

Next thing I knew, I was back up on my feet, and Panama was bolting back and forth in the field across the street.  Spaghetti was fighting hard to go with him, and after a struggle that looked very similar to how mine felt, his owner fell too.  Once Spaghetti joined Panama, they started running away from home, deeper into the park, but luckily they realized it quickly and hightailed it home.

We got a ride back to the barn from one of the girls at the riding stables, where our horses were, of course, already caught and waiting for us.  Even though my butt hurt from the fall, I got right back up on Panama; but Spaghetti's owner was more hurt than I, and called it a day.  After 15 minutes or so, I did too.

I'd lost my sunglasses in the fall (which are magnetic and popped off my regular frames when I hit the ground), and Spaghetti had shown up back at the barn minus one of his stirrups, so after helping his owner get situated I headed back to look for our lost stuff.  I managed to find my sunglasses but not the stirrup.  In the search, though, I was amazed at 1) how torn up the ground was from my battle with Panama, and 2) how rocky the area was where I fell.  Initially I thought I was really lucky not to have landed on a rock, but after a two-inch bright purple bruise showed up on one butt cheek yesterday, I think I might have actually glanced off of one on the way down.  I've been sitting a little cockeyed, as you can probably imagine, but that seems to be the worst of it!

My ride this evening did yield some improvements, but I'll write about that tomorrow.  Two eventful rides are quite enough for one blog post!



At May 2, 2011 at 4:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not fun - glad you and Panama were mostly OK and hope your friend is OK too. Wind can be a problem, and if both horses get agitated things can quickly get out of hand.

At May 2, 2011 at 3:04 PM, Blogger Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Oh man - sorry you guys had such a tricky ride. Sounds like you did the best you could, hanging on as long as you did. Hope you are both okay. :)

At May 3, 2011 at 11:56 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks to both of you for your concern! Other than the expected soreness I think both of us are fine. Interestingly, I think Panama is still rather shook up, as he's been a nervous wreck to start every time I've ridden him since, but Spaghetti is already over it -- he has a much calmer personality than Panama.


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