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...?