Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faster than a speeding bullet....

December 28th, 2009. The day started out early and busy. My niece had stayed over the night before so she could go to riding day camp at my stables. She was very excited and I was excited for her. It was a fairly mild day(-4 Celsius) and the sun was poking out - a perfect day for trail riding.

The kids were going on a trail ride in the afternoon, and I was hoping to tag along and ride with my niece - a first for me. A couple of my adult riding friends, CH and RB, were joining the group, too. I actually got tacked up with Western gear in 10 minutes - a first for me!

Gem was a little antsy and raring to go. There had been freezing rain a couple of days previously which had formed a crust on the snow. Gem was curious and cautious as we started out.

My niece was having a great time. The younger riders were lined up behind LA and the three adults were at the back of the line chatting. I am still a little green when it comes to trail riding so walking, talking and the occasional trot is good enough for me. Gem and I have been together 7 months now and I am just learning how to canter/lope. OK, I know - perhaps slow learning by some standards, but I am not in a rush.

We came to a clearing and LA started to trot across it with the four day campers right behind her. My friend, CH, trotted after the campers. I was next in line and RB was behind me. I held Gem back as I didn't feel comfortable with trotting. As I was trying to maneuver Gem to the side, he started to resist me and then the next thing I knew we went from neutral to 4th gear; from standing to a lope - a first for me.

I have no recollection of how I was holding my reins, and I suspect that my feet were no longer in stirrups. My helmet was simultaneously giving me a concussion and choking me to death with every movement that Gem made. The world was going by me at high speed. I grabbed for the horn desperately hoping that a brake might have magically been installed since the last time I used this saddle. Nope. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more crazy, the next thing I "felt" was Gem powering up and then we were galloping - a first for me.

As we were pounding through the snow, my brain registered that we were heading for a small opening which lead to the next clearing. I could just make out the day campers on the other side of the opening. Holy crap. Within a nano-second, I was able to compute my chances of actually making it through the opening without injury to myself or Gem or the riders lounging on the other side. It didn't look good. Gem helped seal my decision. He came down hard which caused me to slip even further off balance to the right. With my left hand, I used the horn to push myself off of Gem and for a very brief moment, I was flying - a first for me.

My knee hit first, then my elbow, then my shoulder, then my head. The snow looked pristine, but it felt very hard and crispy when I hit. I carefully checked that my legs could move and that I could move my head. I heard RB yelling. He dismounted and came over to me. I got up slowly, dusted myself off. RB helped me back on to the track and we walked over to the group. Gem had made it to the day campers and had stopped.

I was prepared to hand walk Gem back to the barn. LA put a stop to that. She made me mount Gem FROM THE GROUND. I made it on the second attempt - a first for me. The rest of the ride was, thankfully, uneventful.

It's done now. No more wondering about it. I experienced falling off a horse - a first for me. I have some very nice bruises on my knee, leg and elbow. My body is a bit stiff, but I've felt worse. My niece did not see me fall, but she said she heard me scream like a girl. :-) RB said I made a lovely snow angel when I landed.

What was I thinking...?


  1. How terrible! I'm glad you weren't badly injured and that you got back on. Some people will go to such extremes to make a snow angel!


    Hope you've had a good long soak to help ease the bruises and soreness...

  2. Aw, I'm sure Gem didn't mean it. He probably just didn't like the idea of being left behind the rest of the group. Hope you are feeling okay. Always good to get the falling part out of the way. Now you know it's not so bad, right?

  3. Sounds like Gem was scared of getting left behind. Ya know the lion eats the horse in the back of the herd ;)

  4. @Breathe - Your "snow angel" cracked me up. Believe me, I had a good soak with a good stiff drink!

    @Marissa and wilsonc - I think you are correct; he didn't want to be left behind. He stopped as soon as he caught up to the rest of the group.

    This is part that I find hilarious - RB has participated in some of my lessons and knows that I am learning to lope. He thought I had actually queued Gem to lope and was very impressed at my improvement!

    I really am glad that I fell - got it out of the way and it wasn't as bad as I had imagined. Having said that, I hope I don't have to go through this experience any time soon!!

    Thanks for your comments, as always.

  5. It's too bad that you fell but at least it's out of the way now and you don't have to wonder and worry about how it feels. Snow angel huh? I got a kick out of that one. I'm sure Gem just didn't want to get left behind, I've ridden horses like that. I always try to stay in the middle so they feel safer. Hope you are all healed by now and have had more good rides.

    Have a happy healthy New Year and lots of fun riding Gem.

  6. Thanks, GHM. I am feeling much better. I am hoping that the weather will permit another trail ride this Sunday and I will be endeavouring to stay in the middle of the group! :-)

  7. Glad you're okay!

    I went on my first trail ride alone when I was 11. I was so excited about it that I didn't check my girth before I climbed on. About 5 miles away from home in the middle of the woods my horse started to canter. I was young so I thought that was great fun. Then my saddle slipped off to the left. Somehow I managed to cling to his neck and stay on even as he started tearing into a gallop. And then he turned a sharp corner... and I hit the deck. Fortunately I only had to walk a mile before a neighbor saw my horse barreling past his house and came to look for me. I found him grazing on someone's lawn about a mile from home with the saddle completely under his belly. I straightened the saddle, climbed back on and rode home. First thing my mom made me do when I got there was go for another trail ride.

    So, long story short, good for you not letting a fall keep you from getting back out there. Trail riding is fun!

  8. Good grief, smazourek! I am glad you survived your ride of terror. You were one brave little girl! I too have had one incident of not checking the girth (see Physio post). That won't happen again! I agree with you - trail riding is fun!

  9. I can just picture the scene! I'm glad that you weren't hurt and you could laugh about it afterwards.

    Incidentally I must tell you that I had to check out your blog because my last horse was called Wolfie - a chestnut tb who had retired from the racecourse. I had him for a year and a half but I had to take the decision to change him because he wasn't a quiet ride and I was losing confidence. Enter Santana, my Section D.
    Wolfie's sire was a successful American tb called Wolfhound.

  10. Hi Jooles! Sorry that your Wolfie didn't work out for you. Santana is very handsome and you look good together. I am glad that you found the right partner.

  11. Had to click on your links and popped onto this post. Just a year earlier, in 2009, I experienced my first fall off a horse. And like you, I just figured a fall was bound to happen some day and I'd be glad to just get it out of the way.

    The outcome from my fall was much more serious than what happened with yours, though.
    My fall landed me in the hospital for surgery because of a severed ACL. When my horse teleported sideways, my knee was forced into an abnormally flexed position and the ACL just snapped and ripped in half.

    I did clamber back on, though, which probably made my injury even worse. But after that it took me almost a year of rehab before I was physically and mentally able to ride again.

    Oh! And just 4 months after the ACL surgery, I had been able to walk without crutches for a couple weeks and I was preparing to deworm my mare and she was tied and saw me approaching with the tube of dewormer and pulled back so hard that she ripped the welds off the pipe rain fence. The top rail slammed into my shoulder and rammed me into the ground.
    That caused a compound fracture to my tibial plateau....on the same knee that I'd just had surgery.
    Another 8 weeks later, I was finally able to walk without crutches again.

    Horses are very unpredictable and I've learned the hard way that I don't bounce!
    Yeah, I got that fall out of the way, but now I am terrified of falling again. I've never fallen and not ended up in the hospital.

    You're very lucky your falls haven't sent you to the hospital yet. And I hope they never do.