Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Spook

This morning we headed to the barn in high hopes for a good ride. The sun was out. The day was fairly still.  It seemed luck was on our side. That is, until we got to the barn. When we pulled up we saw the herd of cattle on the strip, but decided this wasn't a huge deal. They usually move away if there is activity nearby.

We took the boys inside and Steen was quite nervous, wanting to look towards the door and fidgeting way more than is normal for him lately. Perhaps I should have put a saddle on him at that point, but I did not. I did a little bit of groundwork with him in the indoor while Brian finished tacking Bear and he seemed to calm down, so we went outside.

When we got outside we discovered the cattle weren't just hanging out on the strip, they were mating. I am wondering if all the smells and hormones is what had Steen upset. At any rate they did move off after we showed up. Brian gave me a leg up and Steen was very quiet, so I thought all was good.

We rode for about ten minutes and Steen was better behaved than at the start of yesterday's ride. But I was a little too hot and wanted to take some of clothes off before I started to trot. And then (I am embarrassed to say) I made a mistake I already made once before. I decided to take off a layer without dismounting. Brian did dismount to tighten his girth and said he'd set my vest to the side of the strip for me. I unbuttoned the vest, keeping an eye on Steen's ears. He seemed totally fine, standing on a loose rein. I pulled my arms out of the vest, one at a time. Fine. I moved the vest around to my front. It touched his withers. Fine. I began to move it to one side of my body in preparation for handing it down. Why I didn't wait for Brian to come two steps closer and ask him to hold Steen, I do not know. At any rate, the vest went from being fine to terrifying in half a second, and Steen took off. I was off-balance, bareback, my reins were too long, and also I had a vest in my lap. In other words, doomed. I fell as Steen accelerated down the fence-line. Because he was so close to the (electric) fence, I clung to him a little longer than I otherwise would have, and that's probably why I came off so hard. In my experience, bailing early makes for easy falls, holding on for dear life make for hard ones.

I came to a moment later with Brian standing over me and a very uncomfortable sensation coursing through my body. My foot had gotten tangled in the fence on the way down and so I was receiving shocks through my boot. Brian helped me disentangle and Steen walked back up to me, looking for all the world like he was sorry. I sat on the ground for a while. My sunglasses were broken. My helmet was broken. I was disoriented for a while and couldn't remember a few basic facts, like how long we'd been riding before the fall. The thing I could recall more clearly than anything else was my last hard fall off of something moving. In that case it had been my road bike, and that time I'd had short-term amnesia, unable to recall even the town we were living in or where I worked. This time I remembered how freaked out I got that time, but also how I ended up all right in the end. I was thus able to take my own confusion with a little more equanimity and just wait it out.

Needless to say, we called it quits on riding. Once my vision realigned itself and I could stand, I regretfully took Steen back to the pasture. Mostly, I just feel idiotic - wasting a perfectly good fall day by spooking my own horses into dumping me.

A few hours later, my memory seems to have mostly restored itself, and I'm hoping that's the last hard head hit I take for a long, long time. I've got a new helmet on the way, and I hope I can accurately say I will not, at least, make the same mistake a third time.


  1. OMG, thank goodness you are okay. Double whammy having to get shocked, too. Score one for the helmet! Don't you hate having the "if only" conversation... "if only I would have saddled", "if only I would have dismounted."

    Glad you saw some sunshine though. Never did peek out here. Stayed in the 50's and cloudy. A bit chilly, but we rode anyway. Its been a great October.

  2. Thanks Tammy. Yeah, I am very glad I had a helmet on. That's twice now that I've had short-term memory loss in spite of wearing proper protective head-gear. It makes you shudder to wonder what would have happened without.

    And while I'm not sure a saddle would have prevented this fall(and possibly would have made it worst) I definitely would have dismounted to take off the vest if I could have mounted again on my own. As Steen settles in and gets less flighty, it's easy to forget he still has the 'insane' switch and probably will for a while.

    But I think the worst part of all is we're supposed to have another week of beautiful weather and I should not ride for 3-4 days, since a second concussion on top of this one would definitely have negative long-term impact. :(

    I hope you get some sun!

  3. Yep. The jacket peel. I'm so glad you're OK, and I'm not at all happy with Steen. Tell him I said so. Love the gothic western blog!

  4. Thank you Jean! I will relay your comments to Steen and hopefully he will take them to heart. :}


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