Thursday, August 4, 2011

A lesson, flying changes, and my 16th fall

It's been a while since I counted up my falls, so I had to go back and verify the number — I couldn't remember whether today made 16 or 17.  It turned out to be my 16th, though, since my trainer said that it didn't count as a fall when Panama spooked out from under me at the lake last year (I landed on my feet, or rather, on one foot).

Anyway, during today's lesson we worked more on flying lead changes.  We are still using a pole to get Panama to change both back and front at the same time, and I'm working on my timing (I tend to want to ask him to change half a stride too early).  He does better when we change from a right lead to a left lead, since left is his stronger lead — he tends to want to fall in with his inside shoulder when we canter to the right, which makes him dive inward when he switches to a right lead — so it was when we finished on his "good" side and switched to his "bad" side that we started having trouble.

The lead change before I fell, Panama put his head down after changing his lead, and let his right shoulder dive inward, so I should have been prepared for him to do it again.  But the next time he managed to get me pretty badly off-balance.  I was way too far forward, and my trainer said he was crow-hopping in his canter (though, when I think about it, I think pulling me off-balance put him off-balance too — even though my trainer said he didn't trip, I still think he was probably trying to compensate for all my weight being forward, as it felt like he was scrambling for footing).  I heard her yelling at me to sit tall, and I tried, but then he dug in with the next stride, and I just came off.  It wasn't a bad fall — I just landed on my butt, and I was able to watch Panama canter a few more strides, then stop and turn around.  He walked back over to me with his head almost to the ground, looking apologetic and maybe a bit confused.  He even walked right up to me and sniffed me while I was still sitting there spitting sand out of my mouth, as if asking me, "What are you doing on the ground, Mom?"

He remained apologetic while I mounted — my trainer laughed because he just stood there with his head down, like he felt bad and was trying extra hard to be good.  We trotted and then cantered a bit before I asked him to go over the pole and change his lead again, and that time was perfect — a clean change in both front and back, no pulling on me or putting my head down.  My trainer cheered and said, "He's done!" so we quit on that note.

Hmmm...  Maybe I need to fake a fall on occasion or something, since he seems to feel guilty afterward and makes an extra effort to behave!



At August 4, 2011 at 6:29 PM, Blogger RiverBend Farm said...

What a brave soul you are to post your falls. My last one I was using a bale of hay to get up on the saddle...yeah, I got up alright and went right over on my butt! Pulled the ligaments and bone off my little finger. My mare just stood there and stared at me with that normal "what the heck are you doing down there" look.
Stay safe,

At August 4, 2011 at 7:37 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You must be made of rubber, girl. I'll bet Panama did feel bad, or at least was worried about you. People are always saying that animals don't have the same feelings as people, yada yada yada. But I think they feel things more. Bombay felt terribly guilty once for killing a bird in his stall.

At August 4, 2011 at 10:14 PM, Blogger Fantastyk Voyager said...

Wow, I don't think I'd be counting my falls anymore. It's good that you didn't get hurt.

At August 4, 2011 at 10:50 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

RiverBend Farm, ouch! How is your finger now? That sounds painful!

My worst fall ever was when I was mounting, too, by the way... Panama took off when I was halfway up, trying to mount without stirrups, and I fell and cracked my helmet!

NM, that's actually an interesting thought, that maybe they feel MORE than we do. After all, their emotions most likely aren't corrupted like ours can be (stress, overthinking, etc.). It occurred to me, though, that the biggest proof that he felt bad was in his behavior -- when I got back on, he listened to me and stopped trying to be naughty, even though he hadn't gotten into trouble for me falling. Obviously something made him shape up, and I'm willing to bet it WAS because he felt bad!

Fantasyk Voyager, that's exactly why I still count... because everyone told me way back when that I'd stop counting after a while. That, and I feel a certain pride in that number -- not because of how many times I've fallen, but because of how many times I've gotten back on!


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