Gravity lessons.

Gravity lessons, a la Wile E.

Tonight the indoor was pretty busy – we were sharing it with three other riders, none of whom were inclined to shuffle along, holding the rail.   While most people keep “left to left” somewhat in mind, on nights like these, everyone needs to ride with their heads up, calling their quarterline or circle or inside or rail if there’s any shadow of a doubt.  I don’t mind these kinds of rides – they challenge me in different ways, and I’m getting better at owning my ride, and getting the work done that I want to get done, even when conditions are crowded.

And tonight’s ride was pretty good.  I was trying a new bit – an eggbutt snaffle of Christy’s – and was really liking it.  We got some nice canter work both ways, some very good trot work (including some leg yield and shoulder in – we were feeling it) and I spent some time in two point, torturing my inner thigh muscles.  Everything was going well …. until it wasn’t!

I was bringing Derbs down the quarterline, behind Christy, who was on the rail with Remy, working S/I, S/O, H/I, H/O.  I was asking Derbs for a big trot, and called the quarterline, so Christy would know we were coming.   As we neared -and mind you, there was plenty of room between the horses, Christy asked Remy for a haunches-in … at which point Derby became extremely concerned about preserving the integrity of his teeth.

You see, Derby and Remy are turnout buddies, and Derby – who was a stallion most of his life and is still learning the rules of herd dynamics, because he wasn’t turned out with other horses – is the low man on the totem pole. He’s an equine punching bag.   His first couple months, he suffered all sorts of kicks and dings, because he simply didn’t know that when another horse turns tail, he better get out of the way.

I guess the fact that he has now internalized this golden rule of herd survival is a good thing.  However, I wasn’t prepared – at all, whatsoever – for him to abruptly exit stage left upon seeing Remy’s bum pointed in his general direction.

I’m always amazed at how quickly it can happen.  The speed with which these big, powerful animals can move is still beyond my comprehension.  All I know is that one minute, I’m on a horse.  And then the next, I’m floating, mid-air.  There is no longer a horse under me.  And then I hit the ground.

Tonight I landed squarely on my butt and got the wind knocked out of me.  I spent a minute on my hands and knees, panting for air, and then started to assess the damage.  Toes and fingers, check.  Feeling in extremities, check.  Vision OK, check.  I know my name, check.  I arched my back like a cat, and while things were sore, everything that should move did, and what shouldn’t didn’t.  Check!

I dusted myself off and staggered over to Kristine, who had apprehended Derby. I marched over to the mounting block and got back on to recommence the ride.  Trotted both ways, got him over his back, did some serpentines.

And here’s the best part.  I felt great.  At no point – and I mean NEVER – did fear and trepidation creep in.  I just got back on my horse, and rode.  In a strange way, this little spill is cause for celebration.

And ice packs, and Advil.

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

10 Responses to Gravity lessons.

  1. Gravity always wins… glad you’re okay.

  2. Net says:

    Ouch! I’m glad you’re pretty much ok, even if a little sore! I had a fall Saturday. In a clinic. With people watching and a video camera on. I am sending you a friend request on Facebook so you can enjoy and laugh at someone else.

    Mine was the same type of thing – while my gelding was being NAUGHTY, I fell off my mom’s mare. Who wasn’t being naughty at all, but saw my gelding leaping multiple feet up into the air and thought it was due to monsters attacking, then saw a paper appear in the other direction and thought it was the monster. Once I hit the ground, she was even more convinced about the monsters… but came back to me nicely, and her complete and utter lack of desire to get me off, but merely concern about survival made it not the least bit intimidating to get back on. I think that’s the first time getting back on had absolutely zero nerves involved.

    I hadn’t fallen off in nearly two years, and have only come off 8 times in the 28 years I’ve been riding. I have a theory that it’s actually not often enough, because the concept of falling becomes a big concern at times if you haven’t done it much. Now, you want to hang on when you can… but learning to relax when you hit the ground and not tensing up while in the saddle over concerns you may fall is a biggie.

    • Sarah Skerik says:

      Oh, Annette! Wow! That had to hurt! I also looked through the non-bloopers reel and I love your gelding even more than I did. He is so stinking fancy! What a mover. And wow, can he use his back end or what?

      I totally agree with your theory that a few good falls are, in fact, good for our psyches. I seem to make dirt-eating an annual thing. Hopefully this one will hold me over for a while.

      • Net says:

        I love our arena footing. Soft landing! The only bruises I have are from Bella’s front right hoof glancing off me… Which freaked her out – the following video frames were of her rearing up to get away from me because she definitely did NOT want to step on me!
        As for my guy – thanks! He’s definitely a work in progress. Yes, he always had potential, but we started from ground negative 5, not even ground zero – learn not to curl into a false frame (still his racehorse neck position several years later!) and therefore find that there is a back end attached, eventually allow contact at all, and work from there. I think he’s the nicest TB I’ve ever known as far as dressage movement goes, and that includes ones I’ve seen trained to GP who were obviously very nice and talented! I’m biased, yes, but I know how much he’s improving just from me giving him a path to follow.
        I think as an intro when I create a blog (I’m looking at starting one between Christmas and New Year’s) I will do a “our progress so far” post discussing how he’s changed so far, up to now, when my riding is clearly lacking for what he needs to continue improving and what I’m doing about it. The spoiler summary, though, is everything Christy has you doing. A continued work in progress, continuing to improve my seat, quiet my hands more and more, reward for good, ask for forward, etc. The photos w/ his legs out straight in front of him are just working trot – this is what the working trot looked like in May of last year… notice the dust from hooves not really coming up off the ground cleanly, even.

  3. Oof! That sucks. Still, you have the best attitude ever:) Crap happens with horses, right? Glad you”re ok!

  4. Barbara says:

    I was taught that if you are physically able, you get back on. As much for the horse as for you. But it is so much harder to do than it looks. Hats off to the riders who manage it.
    And I soooo hate that feeling of being left in the air while the horse takes the exit. SO unfair!
    Don’t forget a good epsom salts bath, the magnesium will untangle all those knotted muscles.

  5. Ouch! Happens to the best of us–my trainer came off a completely random mega-spook yesterday. Glad you’re able to get back on, and I hope you’re not too stiff and sore today.

  6. Sarah Skerik says:

    Thanks all for your sympathy and kind words. I have to plug Aspercreme, or as I’ve been calling it, “ASSpercreme.” Genius stuff, works great on those ouchy spots! 😛

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