Friday, November 30, 2012

What Didn't Happen

Brian and I seem to have developed a not particularly wonderful habit of having riding accidents in the fall. It started the year we got Bear - 2010. I had a horrible crash on Halloween. Then Brian came off hard our very next ride. I suffered a concussion and Brian's shoulder bothered him for months.

The next year Brian took another fairly hard fall in October. Though I made it through the season unscathed, I also had my roughest rides of the year right around the time Brian fell. We both marked the pattern, and have hoped not to repeat it this year.

Today was the last day of November, and we had a close call.

As always seems to be the case when things happen, we went out looking for a quiet ride. And it seemed we'd get it. Steen's still a bit under the weather. Laredo has been a trooper lately, taking everything we throw at him with total aplomb.

There was a lot of equipment at work in the fields, so while we'd intended to go out and about a bit more, we didn't want to be in the way. We stuck closer to home (though we did wear our hunting vests).

One of my biggest faults with Steen is I still let him get away with having a comfort zone. He's great on the section of the strip we ride most regularly, but if we get beyond some invisible line, he starts to get agitated. It's so much easier to keep him where he's well behaved, I haven't addressed this the way I should. But I came back from the Martin Black clinic determined to work on broadening Steen's horizons a little every ride.

With that thought in mind, I pointed Steen down the drainage shortly after we got going. Brian does this all time. He's been taking Bear out on little solo forays more and more, and I think it's great.

I hadn't gotten very far down the drainage when I heard the loud thunder of hooves a horse only makes when it is running as hard as it can. I turned and saw Laredo streaking down the strip. Brian was still in the saddle, but clearly not in control.

I would so much rather be on a runaway horse than be watching someone I love on a runaway horse. I was having flashbacks as Laredo charged into the same field where Brian fell two years ago. It was downhill, and Laredo was RUNNING. I have never seen this horse flatten out and haul like that.

But Brian stayed on. Laredo came down out of the field, crossed the drainage and started running up the hill on the other side, where I saw Brian organize himself and give Laredo a calculated pull that brought him to a stop.

Laredo stood there breathing hard. Somewhere during Laredo's charge I had brought Steen's head around purely for prevention purposes and he was turning little circles trying to figure out why I was holding onto him that way. I let him go and we all stood there. My heart was hammering. I said, "What happened?"

Brian said, "He took off after you."

Who knows what happens in the mind of a three year old? They were trotting figure eights when Laredo looked up and saw we were far away. Normally Laredo couldn't care less whether he is near other horses or not. This time, for some reason, panic ensued.

But, true to form, after catching his breath Laredo hiked back to the barn as if nothing had happened. After working on a few more figure eights I asked Brian if he'd like me to ride off again, to recreate the moment but not the panic. Steen and I headed out again.

Things went fine the second time. Laredo looked but didn't give Brian any trouble. I came back and we worked on backing half circles around each other. Here I felt more Wade magic. Steen was moving back and around with energy, on seat position alone. I've literally never felt a horse move like that. He was so responsive I had some calibration trouble at first. It was awesome.

We finished up the ride with a few runs of the routine, and both guys were great. We dismounted on a positive note.

Steen demanded I post this picture of him in my new saddle after rear cinch removal.

Tomorrow is December, which I consider officially winter. So while it was a bit too close for comfort, but we made it through the fall without any falls.

Ride Time: 0:45
Horseback hours YTD: 144:45

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