Monday, April 8, 2013

Back in the Saddle

For the first time since I was thrown and badly injured over three years ago, I got back on one of our horses and rode around the arena. When I was thrown, I had broken my tailbone, dislocated over half my ribs and severely damaged my hip and thigh muscles. I'd managed to ride my friend's horse, Red, who is extremely well trained and very reliable a couple of times over the past three years, and both times, my tailbone still hurt fairly badly. So getting back on the horse this time was partially just to see how my tailbone would deal with sitting in the saddle. The other part was to see how much I remembered about riding and to hopefully help build my confidence up again.

I wasn't confident enough to ride Shadowfax, our Andalusian gelding that threw me, so I was riding Ziggy, our "more sedate" older TB gelding. I was planning on just riding around the arena at a walk, but things got a little more interesting than that.

There is one corner of the DASH arena that is called "The Scary Corner". All the horses seem to have problems to some extent with that corner. I was trying to get Ziggy to go into that corner, and Foxfire came over on Shadowfax to try and show Ziggy that there was nothing scary in the corner. Of course, Shadow got into the corner and completely freaked out, proving that there was indeed something scary in the corner, a bucking, kicking Andalusian. Naturally, Ziggy spooked. He ducked and backed so fast that I came out of the saddle and halfway onto his neck, then he spun a complete 180 and started to bolt. Fortunately, I managed to tighten the reins enough that he didn't bolt, and we just walked away from the corner before turning to watch Shadowfax continue to freak out. It's a good thing that Foxfire is as good a rider as he is.

I directed Ziggy further away from Shadowfax and continued to sedately walk around the arena, and things went fine for a while. Foxfire eventually got Shadowfax's brain back in his head and decided to end the ride on that good note. DA decided that she was done riding at the same time, so both of them left the arena. I decided to ride Ziggy around one more time, then get off. Before leaving the arena, DA actually asked, if I would be okay by myself, and I said that I would be. I couldn't really blame Ziggy for spooking when Shadow went ballistic right next to him, and other than that, he'd behaved very well.

I'd forgotten that Ziggy can be a little buddy sour. As soon as both DA and Foxfire were out of sight of the arena, Ziggy began to call to Shadowfax, then he began to buck. Yes, reliable old Ziggy actually began to buck. They weren't very big bucks, but they were enough to bounce my butt out of the saddle and scare me pretty badly. The first buck caught me completely by surprise, during the second buck, I managed to tighten the reins enough to pull his head up and back so that couldn't buck anymore and he stopped dead, still quivering a little.

I immediately called to Foxfire to come back. I did not want to get thrown again, and Ziggy's bucking had pretty well freaked me out temporarily. By the time, Foxfire made it back to the arena, Ziggy had calmed down and I was feeling less freaked. I told Foxfire what had happened and said that now that Ziggy has mis-behaved, I needed to ride him longer to teach him that he couldn't act out simply because his buddy had left him behind. DA had finished untacking and grooming her horse and was able to stay and watch me while Foxfire went back to finish with Shadow. I told him NOT to bring Shadow back to the paddock by the arena for a while to make sure that Ziggy learned to behave when his buddy was out of sight.

The rest of the ride went pretty well. Ziggy did try to call to Shadow several more times, but each time, I would tighten the reins and make him pay attention to me before he could do anything other than whinny. I rode him for a lot longer than I really wanted to, my tailbone was fine, but my knees were really beginning to hurt. Eventually, I decided that he'd learned his lesson and dismounted.

All in all, it was a bit more of a ride than I planned on. However, I managed to stay in the saddle and wasn't hurt, so it was a good experience. I also learned an important lesson. I should never ride when no one is watching. No one was watching me when Shadowfax threw me, and no one was watching when Ziggy decided to act out. From now on, I will make sure that someone is always watching me when I'm in on a horse. Maybe then, my rides will be a little less exciting.

Despite the unexpected excitement, it was good to be back in the saddle.

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