I have been in this horse business a long time. I am not the rider my daughter is, I will never jump the jumps she jumps or understand as precisely the nuances of planning a winning round in the jumper ring, still I have learned many things of value over the years.
Jordyn was down over the hot, hot weekend. She helped clean stalls, feed, wash down horses and got to ride. Each time she does, she learns something new. Above, she had helped wash down Bruno as he was covered with sweat and dust. Like much of the country we have had crazy hot days and it has taken a toll on all of us.
Jordyn wanted to use the hose to spray off Bruno. Lauren did the sensitive places first and then let Jordyn spray his legs, back and stomach. Bruno, although big, is pretty well behaved. However, I think when we gave Jordyn his leadrope and said hold him, she probably had the odd mixture of “oh, my GOSH” and “I am going to die!” going on in her head. Obviously, Jordyn could not hold Bruno if he wanted to walk away, but I had confidence that he would stand quietly for Jordyn. And once Jordyn held Bruno for a few safe minutes, she had confidence she could hold him as well.
I read other bloggers and their escapades online. One lady, Stephanie, has an OTTB that she is bringing along after his track days. Stephanie actually found my blog first and has recognized my blog in a way I will discuss soon, but meanwhile, it allowed me to learn more about her experiences with OTTBs. Stephanie had a bad experience (okay, like the horse reared and almost landed on her) with her mare at the canter. She has been seeking the confidence to canter again.
I think we can all relate. When we have a bad experience, horse related or not, we tend to analyze the situration and swear we will never get in that position again. Then we worry, a lot. Then our worries fester, some more.
I do all those things as well. But one thing I know for sure, in a world where I feel less is certain every day, I know that accidents and bad things happen. But I also know, absolutely, that we must let go of that and focus on what is right with all we do.
I have had horrible, bone breaking falls. I always (so far) have had no doubt and no worries, that I would be back riding again as soon as I could. Okay, I could have a low IQ, lack the ability to assess danger or just be a thrill seeker. I do not believe any of those things apply to me. I have learned through horses, that I must do what I am confident in doing and not push, or worry about the things I am not.
I had Mariah, now Caroline’s horse, that was a big, strong young horse. She challenged me at the canter every time I rode her. This came not too long after recovering from a broken pelvis. I had NO desire to be hurt. So, what did I do? I worked Mariah at variations of the trot, fast, slow, turning, straight aways until one day when she broke into a canter, we just went with it. I had plenty of confidence to trot and none to canter. But I became the best trotter I could be with her. It also paid off tenfold in Mariah’s ability to turn on a dime.
Lauren came off of Feather at her lesson on Friday. They were schooling jumps higher and more difficult than previously. As they came through to the fifth jump, Feather cleared it fine but had to land and turn hard to the left to make the next jump. It was a zig zag moment and Lauren fought to stay on, but failed. She skidded up to the big fence at the end of arena. She had some road rash from the sand but seemed okay (subsequently we learned she broke her big toe which must have smashed against the stirrup iron).
Feather does not have much experience with people flying off her back. This was maybe the third time Lauren had fallen off of her. As Lauren fell, Feather bolted across the arena. In the whole fight or flight (Feather chose flight) mentality of the horse, with Lauren unexpectedly coming off, the banging of the stirrup hard against her side and the back blocks of the saddle ripping off, had to be very frightening.
We got the two of them back together and Lauren was to re-jump the jump. Often, a trainer might lower the jump or make it more inviting for the horse, but Dev left it at its current height and sent Lauren and Feather on their way. I have to say that I held my breath as they headed toward the jump. But the many, many successful jumps they had made over the last year and half paid off. They soared handily over the jump. Feather never hesitated.
I learned something about both of them here. Lauren has gone off Mickey more times than I care to remember. The falls were usually a little dramatic and getting back to work a little delayed (and I get it, I would not want to get back on either!) Lauren now had confidence in her mare. And this grey mare that came to us from Florida, sight unseen, well, she proved something as well. She proved she was brave, had heart and most of all, had confidence in Lauren.
Read the post about the OTTB Gugi here: