Get up laughing

Tonight’s ride took an unexpected departure – in more ways than one.

As we warmed up, I hopped up into two point and let Derby roll.  He was clearly feeling good, going around at a spanking trot.  For fun,  I pointed him at a pole laying on the ground.

He jumped it.  Seriously jumped it, as gathered himself and jumped it.

It has been three decades since I jumped.

He cantered off but came right back to me, as I exclaimed “Oh, my god, we jumped!”  Liz was riding and concurred, adding that it was a proper jump, not a crowhop over the pole.

Christy walked back through the arena and I exclaimed (again) “We jumped! Christy, we jumped!”

“Let me see!” was her response.  I demurred, then said, what the heck.  We picked up the trot, I hopped back into two point, and aimed at the pole.   As we approached, I (very unnecessarily) gave Derbs a little click.

Derby proceeded to LAUNCH himself over the pole. I felt his back round and then found myself popped out of the tack.  Okay, holy crap, that’s what bascule feels like.  Upon landing, Derby was a bit exuberant and got away from me.  I wasn’t balanced, nor was he, and we didn’t make it around the turn. Or, more precisely, he made it, but I didn’t.  I slithered off after riding a couple strides up on his neck. Happily, I was able to hop up laughing, and go fetch my horse.

To his credit, Derbs is not a fan of losing his rider.  He stood, looking worried and doing that stressy, heavy, rapid breathing that horses do when they are worried.  He balked at the mounting block, and was still visibly upset. I intended to get back on, but he looked like he might lose his marbles.  We walked around for a while, until he regained his composure.  By that time, however, my hind end was starting to tighten up.  Yep.  I landed on my butt again. Given the alternatives, that’s the spot I would have chosen.

After the fact, Christy and Liz told me they guesstimated the height of Derby’s jump approached 3 feet.  Christy confirmed that he was really round.  So, he’s a fancy jumper.  That’s great.  I might experiment with jumping again – when the weather is a lot warmer and maybe the horse will be more inclined to use an appropriate amount of effort to get over obstacles.  And I’ll be a lot stronger in my two-point when that time comes, too.

For now, I’m just glad I got up laughing.

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.