I meant to do that. Really!
March 20, 2011 5 Comments
Today was an interesting day, to say the least, and it ended with the unscheduled completion of one of my greatest riding accomplishments to date.
Since I’m currently horseless, I’m hustling for rides, and was offered the chance to try a cute TB gelding named Chester. He’s a big boy – he has to be every bit of 17H – and is a gentle puppy dog. Despite the stormy weather, I saddled up, and joined Christy in the arena, where she was riding her green bean, Remy.
The ride started out uneventfully but that changed in a heartbeat when a loud clap of thunder scared both geldings out of their wits. Chester bolted, and I was able to ride it, saying whoa, and pulling and releasing the reins. However, I realized that he wasn’t whoa-ing. It was time for plan B.
It’s interesting how your mental processes kick into overdrive in times of stress. It feels like you’re living in a slow motion film. I for one am a huge fan of this aspect of the human brain. The ability to think in a fast moving crisis has saved my butt more than once, tonight included.
And, I’ll tell you, a bolting OTTB with a fast approaching wall in one direction and an oncoming (also bolting) horse in the other fits my definition of a fast moving crisis situation.
So, saying “whoa” and asking him to slow down wasn’t working. I grabbed some mane and thought about bailing. Then I caught sight of Remy heading in our direction. Yep, it was time to bail. At that moment, the horse I was riding swerved, just as I started to lean forward and kick my feet out of the stirrups. At this point, my hands were on the horse’s shoulders, and I pushed up …. and off … swinging my right leg over …. and ….
…landed – not in a heap or spattered on the wall, but squarely on my two feet, with the reins in my hand!
I’m pretty sure I shouted “YES!” and fist pumped, before realizing that as relieved as I was, my mount was still freaking out.
Wasting no more time but beaming like a lunatic, I quickly took my skittery steed to to an open stall, cooing to him while I unbuckled the bridle. He settled down, exhaled, then started nosing around for bits of hay. Christy had also made it safely back into the aisle after safely getting off her big red whirlwind, who was now standing in his stall, shaking.
“That was a legitimate spook,” she said. “Any horse – Liam, Frankie, Atlanta – would have spooked at that thunder,” she added, unnecessarily. I told her that I felt great, I was thrilled to bits that I had executed my first emergency bail. (Read her account of riding during the storm.)
As she soothed Remy, Christy told me that she was proud of both horses. “They took us with them,” she said, noting that while both had taken off, neither had gone bronco on us – no bucking, rearing, twisting. They didn’t dump us. Both of us were able to dismount safely. Christy has talked about this before – a horse that takes you along when it spooks – and now I understand what she means. And I agree, it’s a good thing.