Monday, May 29, 2017

The Day My Horse Scalped Himself

Unrelated photo of earlier this week - he turned eleven!!
Today was the day.  Today was the day that my friend and I were going to trailer our horses without the assistance of someone more confident about hauling a trailer. 

We hitched up the truck and trailer in excellent time, loaded up the tack, grabbed the ponies, who easily loaded in to the trailer with no fuss.  We trailered to a VERY close public arena (2 miles?) with a known turnaround (no reversing for me!).  The boys backed out of the trailer with no issue, and walked around the new area with not a single spook or snort.

It was an excellent first outing.  It started raining, so our time was cut a little bit short, but we did what we had come to do, namely: hook up the trailer, load the ponies, trailer them somewhere, have a positive experience, and then get home safe and sound.
Photo from a drive into the plains this weekend.  Really serene.

When we arrived home, we got to the business of unloading them.  My friend's horse, Sterling, comes out first (he was a hesitant traveler when she first got him).  He came out, no issues. 

Annnnnd that's where sailing the calm trailering seas ended.  Gavin decided that he was most definitely coming out RIGHT THIS FUCKING INSTANT.  Somehow (how, I don't know), he got his big fat pony butt under the butt bar (in this trailer it's a padded butt chain, so there was enough slack for this to happen).  He went into reverse at full speed and got stuck at the withers (I didn't see this part as I was still trying to get him back into the trailer (I was standing at the escape door, my friend was to his side).  At this point Gavin made the decision to crouch (WTF HORSE?!?!) and wormed the rest of his body out.  He wasn't scared - nothing scary had happened.  Sterling was still right there.  He was just impatient.  As soon as he was out of the trailer, he just stood there like "Okay... so let's go back to our stalls now".  He may not have been freaked out, but I was freaked out, especially when I realized he had managed to rip out a good 2x2 inch section of fur along his spine (about 2 or 3 inches back from his withers).  Yes... my horse scalped himself.  Or gave himself some weird version of a horse Brazilian.  Dude is hairless in that one section.  Sexy Gavin.... :-/
Did I do that?!?! *Gavin's best Urkel impression*

Well... hairless or not, we couldn't just go back to his stall.  Sterling was put up and Gavin was reloaded.  The butt bar was hooked back up (with the plan that if he tried the same maneuver he'd have the flag of death waving at him from behind (courtesy of my brave friend), and me asking him to give to pressure from the halter.  He never tried it though.  He just stood there, calm as could be.  We took the butt bar down and then asked him to politely back out, which he did.  We did it one more time, and again, no issue.

We did a very long walk around the indoor after the trailering and I doctored up his bald spot (which didn't seem to be causing him any pain).

I would very much like to NOT repeat this little episode and so I'm going to be working a lot with him on trailer etiquette and cues on backing up.  I think in this case, food is my friend, as is three helpers (one to hold Gavin's ride-or-die gelding bro, Sterling, one to dissuade the backing up with aforementioned flag, and one at his head).

Anyone else have any scary trailering stories they'd like to tell?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Emergency Landing

I'm not sure if it's luck, if it's what horses I'm willing to ride, or if it was my early life dressage queen lifestyle, but I can count on one hand how many times I've fallen off in my 25 year journey of horseback riding.  It's not something I'm proud of, but at this point, I do find it a bit odd.  I've always been amazed by the stories people tell of falling and falling and falling, and never getting nervous, never getting seriously hurt, never giving up.

DreamBoat McCobFace
Here are my falls, listed in chronological order:

1st fall - I was 14.  Fell off a rank lesson horse who at the canter zigged and I zagged.  Rolled off.  I was totally A-Okay.  My mom's nerves were a little less A-Okay.  ;)

2nd fall - I was 19.  My sweet, but green TB, Clifford, bucked me right over his head.  I landed on my ass still holding the reins, which promptly snapped.

3rd fall - I was 19.  Clifford, you glorious asshole you.  He bolted and bucked as I was mounting.  I had no chance.  I was coming off.  After this, I spent a solid 3 months totally cowed by him.

4th fall - I was about 27.  Gavin bucked me off from a literal standstill.  One minute we were at ease, the next minute he was broncing and I was being ejected into gravel.  My hands and my pride hurt, but I was okay.

5th fall - was TODAY.  And it huuuuuurt.  We were jumping two crossrails in a little pattern and decided to start coming in at an angle to one of them that was riding easy.  The first time I went over it, Gavin jumped big (his tendency when he's unsure of a jump).  I decided I'd bring him around and ride it again, you know, just to show him no big deal.  Went into it, and I could feel when he was going to take off.  Well, he didn't take off, he added in this weird little half step before he launched, but I had already launched about 3 seconds earlier.  There was no hope.  I jumped Gavin, while he was jumping the jump.  I landed hard on my side and cracked the side of my (helmeted) head on the ground.  I just lay there groaning, feeling sorry for myself.  My friend came over (an old pro at falling off and immediately jumping up and getting back to business).  She made sure nothing was broken and then patiently waited as I got up at the pace of an elderly turtle.  I wasn't scared or mad.  Gavin hadn't been naughty.  I just read the jump wrong.
Lady?.... You alright?

I got back on and we jumped it once from the trot and once from the canter.  Both times he launched over it.  I'm pretty sure he thought some evil, invisible force pulled his rider off.  Ahahaha.  That's right, an invisible force did pull me off - it's called momentum.  My friend raised the crossrails up to small verticals and jumped them every which way, and I decided I needed to jump them straight-on (no more of this angle shit).  He was a good boy.  No hesitation, no trying to duck out.  I'm really happy with how the ride went and how it ended.  I'm just not happy that my entire right side hurts, and for some weird reason my neck hurts, like... my windpipe hurts.  I went home and had the most uneasy nap ever.

I can't say that I'm happy that I fell, but I think it was probably long overdue.  I also think there is something empowering about falling off and saying "yeh, that fucking hurt, but I'm gonna get back on and do the damn thing".  That last part might be the concussion talking.  ;)