Monday, October 22, 2012

Pony Eating Monsters and Eating Dirt

I rode yesterday and have reason to be extra proud.  The barn was empty and dark and cold.  The temperature had dropped another 10 degrees.  We're in the kind of weather that makes us want to spend days indoors.  It's not just cold, it's wet and cold.  Currently it's raining and 42 degrees.  And since I've got a sore throat from fighting off the latest elementary school bug that my child brought home, I've cancelled my lesson for tonight.  It's a good night for sitting by the fire drinking Throat Coat tea.

But yesterday I bundled up (though not enough as the barn was WAY colder than I expected) and headed out to see the pony.  After a small scuffle with her new pasture mate, a three year old warmblood mare who is just a mite pushy, I pulled Tessa out.  She either had laid down or rolled at some point because one side of her face was muddy and crusty.  She came trotting over from the far side of the pasture to see me.  I know that they say horses like being outdoors no matter what the weather, but I swear I have a hothouse flower pony.  A little mud and she's running towards me and her halter with enthusiasm.

So, the reason why I'm extra proud is that Tessa was pretty hyped up.  There was one other person riding so I wasn't able to let her blow off steam in the indoor.  I tacked her up and was going to ride her through it but then I noticed the moving truck.  Bad timing for us.  The people who are moving in to the apartment overlooking the arena were moving furniture in.  Tessa got one look at the pony eating monster Man With Chair Over His Head and decided that the goat corner wasn't so scary after all.

After a few minutes of lungeing, I put on my big girl panties and got on.  We had forward.  Unless we were headed towards the moving truck.  Some guys were helping with the moving and kept running and jumping out of the truck.  Between that and the furniture moving around, Tessa was forward.  Or at least she was forward when we were heading *away* from that truck.  Usually at a high rate of speed and following a snort and spin maneuver.  I gave up trying to work through it and just did a lot of twenty meter circles on the opposite end of the arena.  We had some gorgeous transitions and only one sullen (but giant) buck before going into canter.  All in all, a good ride.

I was chatting to someone later on about horse and riding and we were talking about falling off.  I ride at an eventer barn and I'm not sure if it's the eventing attitude or if this is true of everyone but at our barn they say things like "You WILL come off and eat dirt, it's just a matter of time."  or "You're not a real ride until you come off."   It got me to thinking.  I'm not old, but I sure as hell am not young anymore.  At 40, my bones don't bounce the way they used to.  I remember falling off pretty regularly when I rode camp horses at age 14 and it wasn't a big deal.  But when I started riding in my twenties, I only had three falls and they were not good or easy.  Fall number one just hurt a lot and left me off riding for a few weeks.  Fall number two hurt a lot worse and left me off riding for a few months.  Fall number three hurt like a son of a bitch and left me off work for three months, off riding for ten years and with permanent damage to my hips and back.  So, when I say I'm afraid of falling off that's an understatement.

Falling off consumes me.  Because it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.  When am I going to fall off?  Will I die this time?  Will it be because I've gotten bucked off?  Spooked off?  Will my foot get hung up in the stirrup?  Will I get dragged?  The scenarios are many and varied.  But is this true?  Is it statistically probably that I will fall off?  Even if I am careful?  Cautious?  I know there's always the chance you'll fall off, much like every time you get in a car there's a chance you'll get in an accident.  But nobody makes you feel like less of a driver if you've been in an accident and certainly folks don't go around harping on how it's only a matter of time before you have an accident.  So, is it true?  Should I just steel myself for the reality that I'm gonna fall off?  'Cause at this age I'm not sure if that's okay.  Not sure at all.......


  1. I have never fallen off - granted I have only been riding for about 2 years, but that is on my mare. I was the first to ever ride her. Everyone told me - it is only a matter of time...but no one says it anymore :)

    Now my daughter on the other hand - can't count the number of times...but she evented for several years.

  2. Well, when I started riding 4 years ago at 52 years of age I really wasn't concerned about falling. When I did fall off (3 times so far), I accepted that it was part of the riding experience. I look at it as a badge of honour. :-) I will tell you that what does freak me out is the possibility of getting bit. The thought of a horse's big teeth grabbing my flesh gives me the willies!!

  3. Just a thought, you should get a good instructor (maybe someone from the vaulting or trick riding sphere who knows how to teach this) to teach you how to fall. It won't save you from getting dumped, but it can certainly help! Though since this is a comment on an old post, you probably won't see it.