"Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help."
I have to admit I am more of Stones fan. :-) But, this lyric fits the bill of my experience after lesson on Tuesday.
I rode on Thursday and Friday of last week. On Friday's ride, Jean and I actually ventured out into the pastures for a very short trail ride.... by ourselves....!!! Yay!!
Lesson was so so on Tuesday evening. It was hot and humid. Horse and rider alike were sweating and huffing and puffing. After a long weekend of 30C temps and really big hair humidity, by the time lesson rolled around I had no energy. We didn't do anything too strenuous - walk, jog, a little loping in a figure 8 pattern. I am finding loping in small circles a challenge. It's difficult for me to maintain my balance while steering and pushing Gem on. This is one of the things I will be focused on over the next couple of months. The other is side-pass and, believe it or not, an active walk. Two Horses has been working on this with her horse Cassie. Gem will speed up his walk if I encourage him but as soon as I release pressure, he slows right down. We will keep working on it!
Anyway, after lesson I untacked my sweaty boy, gave him a brush and took him outside to graze a bit. After 10 minutes, I walked him back into the barn. As I opened his stall door and started to walk through into his stall (I make him wait until he's invited in), he started scratching his chin on the top of the door. He was really enjoying himself so I stopped mid-way through the door and let him scratch to his hearts content. His lead chain was banging up against the door, making quite a bit of noise.
Gem finished up his scratching session as CA walked into the barn with her lesson horse. He tried to pull his head up and couldn't. He tried again, and couldn't. He started to pull back while moving along the side of the stall, pulling the stall door tight and successfully pinning me. WTH?? Basically we were standing beside each other, our heads next to each other, with the wall of the stall separating us. I managed to look over the top of the door and could see that his scratching love-in had looped the lead chain around the latch and that some of the links in the chain were threaded through the sliding handle.
He was starting to back-pedal and I could hear his hooves smacking the concrete floor. There was a look of concern around his eyes. He started to pull, not in a jerking motion, more like a dog playing tug of war. I could hear the wrought iron hinges on his stall door protesting. I have to admit that when I heard the hinges starting to give, the possibility of an even bigger dangerous situation flashed across my mind...like horse-tearing-out-of-the-barn-dragging-a-stall-door-behind-him kind of situation. I didn't want to upset him any more than he already was. So, instead of yelling, I said in a loud but calm voice, "CA, I NEED YOUR HELP NOW!" Moving at the speed of paint drying, she responded "I'll be a sec. I just have to put my horse in her stall." WTH?! The reaction I was looking for was her moving with a sense of urgency and QUICKLY putting her horse in the stall and QUICKLY coming to my assistance. No such luck. Meanwhile, Gem was still back-pedaling, the stall door was still protesting while my body continued to endure the door being pressed up against it. I realized that I was going to have to defuse this situation myself.
I spoke quietly to Gem. "Easy....easy..." I reached over and started to stroke his neck. "Easy....there's a good boy..." He stopped back-pedaling and in doing so released some of the pressure on the door. I managed to squeeze the rest of my body into the stall and look over the door at the tangled chain. I thought I might be able to just undo the clasp, but it was tangled up too. It was sort of like getting a knot out of a necklace, but I managed to do it. No easy feat when you are looking at it from over a door. :-) I chatted with Gem while I worked and he stood like a gentleman. After I got the chain untangled, I asked him to back up, allowing me to open the stall door, exit the stall and walk up to him to give him a rub and tell him what a good boy he was.
How easily and quickly something so "normal" can become something dangerous! Holy crap! In reality, this whole situation with Gem probably only took 2 minutes max, start to finish. It seemed much longer. :-) I am thankful that Gem is not the panicking kind, and frankly neither am I. In a strange sort of way, I think this exercise was beneficial to both of us. It added to my confidence level. I can take care of Gem and he got to see that I helped him. I hope that translates into the level of trust that he has for me being elevated just a smidge. :-)
It was after I led him into his stall that CA walked up to us and asked what I needed (what took her so long??!!). I explained what had happened and that when I called for her I needed her help immediately. I showed her the hoof scrape marks on the concrete where Gem had been back-pedaling. She responded that she heard it but just thought he was giving me the business and didn't realize that it was an urgent situation. Sigh.
I don't believe I was over-reacting but obviously I failed in communicating that I needed help. So, my question to my blogger friends is this: Is there a particular way that "horse people" communicate an urgent situation to others, whether it's when you are in the barn or riding?? In other words, should I have asked for Help! differently (yelling?)??
What was I thinking.....?