Monday, April 27, 2009

Hitting the dirt

Ahh, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I got my butt dumped into the dirt yesterday. In a way, it's kind of a relief that that particular first is finally over and done with aboard Gabe. I've been anticipating it and I think that anticipation translated into unnecessary nervousness in the saddle. Is it goofy to say that now that he's launched me I feel more confident? I admit, I was scared of the's an awful long way down, but now that I've done it and survived without a bump nor scratch, I no longer have to fear the fall. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true!

Sunday was beautiful, quite windy, but gorgeous. Ok, it was very, very windy and gusty and I was a bit tempted NOT to ride because of the gusts, but, I bit the bullet and refused to let the weather make me its slave once again.

Robert, Kayleigh and I all went for a ride. Another first! We've never all three been able to ride on separate horses at the same time! Kayleigh used to be small enough to ride double on Chief with Robert and me on Calypso, but she's gotten too big for that any more. It was wonderful! I was only able to ride in the arena area and Kayleigh and Robert went for a short hack after I was done riding Gabe.

We are in the process of fencing in the arena area to turn it into another pasture as well as make it safer for riding. An enclosed area is always a nice thing to have to ride in, especially if you have kids or are riding very green horses. But, it's not fenced yet. We have it all cleared and to be fenced, just haven't gotten to the posts and fencing part yet. There is fence along two sides where it abuts the dry lots and one of the grass pastures, a deep creek and woods on one side and an opening in the woods where it leads to a bridge over the creek and back out to the rest of the property. This opening is where the gate will be installed. The gate is not properly installed yet (ever try to dig post holes in thick mud? Not fun!) but, we had the metal gate leaning against a corner post and a tree to block that opening.

Remember that gusty wind I mentioned?

Blew that gate right over as Gabe and I were walking away from it. Ever hear one of those big, metal gates hit the ground and rocks? Not exactly silent.

Hoo boy! I don't know how jockeys manage to stay on when those horses break from the gate! Gabe sprang forward from a relaxed walk into a gallop in a second flat and left me wondering where the heck he went. BAM! Gone. It did give me an opportunity to admire the pretty wild flowers growing in the grass up close and personal. His spook caught me off guard at a point when I was really thinking about and working on being as loose and relaxed as possible in the saddle so I wasn't inadvertently giving him signals so slow down or stop. I guess I was, eh? ROFL! I was so mad at myself, too. I should have been able to ride that particular spook, I've ridden 100s, nay 1,000s of them without an issue.

Poor Kayleigh was so worried about me. She's never seen me dumped before and it wasn't a pretty land-on-your-feet fall either. It was an eat dirt fall. Thank goodness I had my hard hat on. Without that brim I would have face-planted right on my nose. But, I caught Gabe (he didn't go anywhere, and stopped running as soon as I left the saddle), gave him a reassuring pat, and got back up to finish our session. Not a bit of spook left in him and we finished on a good note.

Aside from ditching me, Gabe was wonderful. He is moving well off my leg. Sometimes I have to nudge, nudge, nudge, kiss, kiss, kiss to get him walking from a halt, but he's walking most often off a squeeze, and that's definitely a step in the right direction. The turns are still sticky and he threw a few little head tossing, grunting fits when I decided he could turn around and walk in the opposite direction Chief and Calypso were heading. He did NOT like that idea at all, but after "expressing himself" in his own unique way, he would sigh and give up and head in the direction I pointed him. Good boy!


  1. Well, it's good to know that he wasn't misbehaving. I'm always reminding myself to keep my thighs squeezed in just in case something happens that might make me otherwise airborne, however it is so much nicer to be able to relax in the saddle. I don't think there's anything you could have done. Now that Gabe knows that kind of movement causes the rider to fall, he might think twice about reacting so quickly.

    I lost my stirrups this weekend when Lostine was in her "go as fast as I can" mode. She could feel me slipping sideways a bit and automatically slowed down, so I could regain my seat. I'm always amazed when horses show sensitivity to their rider like that. I'm glad you weren't hurt.

  2. Yes, I'm glad you weren't hurt either. But, like you, I would absolutely feel much better knowing that it's done. You've lived to tell the tale. I can totally understand exactly how you feel. I was like that with Ladde. He used to be very stumbly when he was a growing boy, I akin it to a growing adolescent boy growing a bunch over a summer and being clumsy in gym class because his feet are so much bigger in such a short period of time. Anyway, I used to always fear that Lad would stumble and go down with me. Well, he did one day trip over a pebble or hump in the trail after a fairly long ride. Down onto his knees and nose we went. I only had time to exclaim aahh! It was smooth as silk, one minute walking and the next nose in dirt (his, not mine). I was not unseated and felt intense relief that my "worst fear" had just taken place. Glad to hear that now you can move on.

  3. Dang - glad you are okay. And as much as one hates to choose which undesireable behaviour they prefer, a spook is better than a buck, rear or bolt in my book - especially if you identified what he spooked at! Even though he bolted a bit, it sounds like it was all part of the spook & he didn't go far. And now you know.... :)

  4. You had me laughing with the "pretty wild flowers, up close and personal".
    WOW =Jenn, so very happy it all ended up this well..and specially that Gabe did not premeditate that!
    It's always a good idea for the helmet..I really don't think twice about it anymore.He sounds so lovely..coming right along!
    What a fun time to ride together..good for you all! Finally, spring has sprung...though it gave your horse a springin' too!

  5. I understand the anticipation of that first fall with a new horse. (I just hope when I have mine I don't find out I have osteoporosis now that I'm middle-aged.) Glad it is over for you and no harm done. It's also good to hear examples of how helmets do prevent undo injury.

  6. Thank you for my LOL moment today. It was the part about enjoying the wild flowers up close and personal that did it.

    I know exactly what you mean about the fall making you more confident. Jaz didn't bolt, he just swung around real fast and I lost my balance enough that I knew I couldn't regain it (without REALLY hurting myself), so I slid off the back and landed on me bum. I know not all falls will be that gentle, but it got me past being worried about it.

  7. Oh baby..thought I was gonna join the best of em today with you...I about hit the dirt during my lesson! She bolted into a canter spook! and somehow, I stayed on er! is a nice soft arena though...but no flowers
    Come over to my place and VOTE...would like your opinion Yea or Nay"

  8. OMG. Thankfully, you werent hurt. Please dont do any more of that particular kind of wildflower inspection. Gabe is a dandy, i can tell you that right now.

  9. yikes i feel your pain :) My tb mare always remembers her "kentucky " days so I Know how that going from 0-90 feels...
    It's G-man my arabian that does the spook jump 90 to the side .. last one leaving me in a pile of rocks..... glad you're unscathed both physically and mentally

    sit down and ride

  10. Thank you, everyone! I'm glad I wasn't hurt, too. It's a LONG way down to the ground! I've definitely filed that experience in my Gabe Info file for future reference in regards to how is apt to respond to spooky things.

    As soon as it dries a bit (yes, more rain. ALL WEEK! grr.) I'm going to take him back out on the longe line and have Robert push that gate over again and again until Gabe just doesn't react to it any more. We'll turn it into a desensitization lesson. :P

  11. Really like your blog :) I popped off my horse yesterday too due to some fancy footwork from my mare after she refused a jump. Not a scratch, but a pretty badly bruised ego to say the least. But now that the first fall is over I am feeling like the pressure is a little less intense and I hopefully wont make the same mistake I made a second time! Full details on my blog...haha...guess we're all having one of those weeks!

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