Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dusty's graduation

Well, I've been trying to find the time to sit down and write this one for a few days now...I guess tonight's the night I write it.

Dusty (the horse) was originally going to go home on Saturday, but I was invited on a trail ride at Folsom Lake on Sunday. Since I haven't ridden Shylah for a while anyway, it seemed logical to take Dusty instead, and that would be a nice "graduation" for us. He'd been doing so well, I was very proud of him.

So Saturday afternoon I saddled him up and put saddle bags on him just to double check that he was okay with those, since I had managed to overlook that before. He was fine with them, no problem. I did some work in the arena and then took him out in the neighbors' field to walk him out, and all was well until a jackrabbit popped up. Now this is not a big deal, Dusty has seen a zillion rabbits, and he just sorta looked at it, alert but not concerned. It went behind a brush pile, popped out the other side, and he just lost it. He spun around and took off in the opposite direction. Whoa! Okay, I wasn't expecting that, but I kept my grip and quickly got him stopped. But it was like someone flipped the switch, and after that I just couldn't get him to settle down. I tried making him work and keeping him thinking, doing all sorts of intricate moves, changing direction, anything to get his mind refocused. Didn't help. I tried to sloowwww him down, but he would just paw and dance around, and try to hurriedly head back to the barn. What went wrong? What happened to calm non-spooky Dusty? It wasn't like he hadn't ever spooked before. He did from time to time (what horse doesn't?) but it had never been a big deal, he'd sorta flinch to the side and look at the (non)scary thing like "wow, did you see that!?" The whole situation was just weird. I eventually did get him back to the barn with both of us in one piece, and had him stand tied for a few hours.

Sunday morning I was up at 5am to take birds to auction (ugh). Got back home around 8:30am. There wasn't enough time for a nap, just enough time to curl up in bed and get warm again! And then I went out to tack up Dusty. W picked me up at 9:30 and we drove up to Folsom Lake. I'd never ridden there before. I haven't been out on trails very much at all. Dusty was very alert and inquisitive about everything in the waiting area, looking all around and just taking it all it. We waited for W's friend to show up, and when she arrived and saddled up we headed for the trail entrance.

The entrance to the trail was marked by two very large whitish granite boulders. Dusty was in the back, the other two horses leading the pack. We were nearly right next to the boulders (having been approaching them for some distance now, it's not like they popped out of nowhere) when Dusty seemed to notice them for the first time and got very hesitant about going forward. The other horses were already through, but he didn't want to walk between the boulders and started backing away. I urged him forward, he took a step, and then the next part all just happened so fast. He whirled away, right out from under me. There's this split second of thinking "I can still grab the saddle." Nope, too late. And then "this is going to hurt." And then it hurts, a LOT. That's a long way down even on a horse that's not very tall. I landed on my butt/lower back (the bruise now is really funky!), but amazingly kept hold of the reins. W rushed over and grabbed Dusty and I just lay there for a little bit doing inventory of body parts to make sure it was all still attached and functional. I figured out nothing was broken, but it wasn't feeling too great either. My first thought was there was no way I was going to finish (or even start!) the ride. Not that I was afraid to get back on but I didn't think I would be able to. But after a few minutes I stood up and decided if I could get back up there then I'd be good to go. So the big scary boulder became a handy stepping stone (no way could I get back up the normal way!) and off we went on about a 4 hour ride.

Other than being in pain it was a wonderful ride, the trails are really nice, the horses all got along, the scenery is great, etc. I liked riding down on the beach area, and we took the horses in the water and let them splash around. It's so funny when they all start pawing at the water! By the end of it I think Dusty was really tired. At first he'd been hard to slow down (he walks fast, but I didn't want him tailgating other horses) and by the end he kept trying to stop and I had to urge him onward.

And then we took him home. If you're thinking I don't even want to see that horse again, you're totally wrong. He's fun, and I want to take him out and gallop him around the fields where he lives, that would be great. I will ride him again. I don't feel right about this spooking problem thought. He'd been so good, ready to go home, and then twice in two days he has this massive whirl-away spooky thing going on...ugh!

I know that anybody can fall off a horse, but it really makes a person feel stupid when it happens. Like "gee, anyone who saw that must think I'm a really bad rider" even if that's not the case! (I'm not *great* but I'm not bad!)

So... I've been really quite sore for the last few days, and in places I didn't even realize at the time I had hurt. It wasn't til I woke up with neck pain the next morning that I got to wondering if I had hit my head (didn't hurt at the time of the fall, but I had been wondering how I landed on my back and managed to not whack my head). Well, I took a good look at my helmet and holy moley I sure did whack my head. There's a huge dent! I'm REALLY glad I wear a helmet! Unfortunately once a helmet has been in an accident it's not considered safe anymore, so I do have to get it replaced. Whee.... And of course it's entertaining to see what shape and color the bruise becomes from day to day.

Fun with horses, it's always something... I definitely want to get back out on the trail! :-)

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