Thursday, September 23, 2010

A bad day

Not every day can be sunshine and roses, and for me Monday definitely wasn't. I've had horrible allergies this year. I don't know what I'm allergic to, but whatever it is had a great growing season this time around. Sunday night I had a horrible allergy attack: my sinuses filled up completely giving me a horrific headache, I could only breathe through my mouth so I couldn't sleep, and on top of that I got menstrual cramps. I was not a happy camper (this will get to horses, don't worry).

On Monday I dragged myself to the doctor's office and got prescribed a boatload of drugs. I immediately headed over to the pharmacy and stocked up on my 3 new antihistamines. A couple hours later and I was feeling better so I decided that I could ride in my weekly lesson that evening.

The horse I was slated to ride is a hanoverian mare named Mira. She's sensitive but honest and we worked pretty well together when I rode her previously. But this time we started having issues almost immediately. She didn't want to leave the barn with me. I asked her to walk forward and she grew roots, I had to pull her from side to side to get any forward motion at all. It only got worse once I got on her, she cut off all the corners and blew through my half halts, we were having to circle like crazy because she was passing everybody with her speed demon trotting. When we started jumping, I had to do more circles at the canter because she was so jazzed up. Despite that, it went fairly smoothly- until I lost my left stirrup right before I needed to ask her to come down from the canter.

I can't pick up the left stirrup when I drop it, my ankle just won't maneuver that way yet. Whenever I drop a stirrup now I get frazzled and it messes with my head. So instead of doing what I should of done, which was pay no attention at all to losing a stirrup, I clenched my left leg on her like a vise. Mira lost it. She bolted across the indoor for all she was worth. Of course I lost the right stirrup pretty quickly after that, so there I was, clinging like a barnacle on this mare running mad all over the place, launching herself over every tiny pole on the ground, and spinning like a barrel horse every time I pulled on a rein to try to stop her. Force of will and a tiny bit of quick thinking were the only things that kept me on her back. The other students were quite impressed that I stayed on through that with no stirrups, but I don't  share that. If I was that good of a rider she wouldn't have bolted on me in the first place.

So what happened?

I think it was pretty simple actually, I didn't feel as good as I thought I did. Lack of sleep and a cocktail of drugs effectively severed the ties between my mind and body. I was incredibly tense and couldn't tell- but Mira sure could. I ended up learning a more important lesson on Monday than counting strides and finding my jump spot. When riding a sensitive mare it's important to be connected to your body and feel as close to 100% as possible because she will know if you aren't and she won't appreciate it one bit. I'm filing this little tidbit away for later, because Gwen is Mira times 10, and 50% just isn't going to cut it with her.

Someday I'll be the rider I want to be, but there will probably be a few more rides like Monday's before I get there. I'm chalking it up to life experience; at least I know next week will be better 'cause it couldn't be any worse.


  1. Oh, dear. I know your pain!!! I used to suffer so badly with allergies that I would cry....which didn’t help my sinuses! But there is light at the end of the tunnel!! Since I have gone through menopause, my allergies have basically disappeared! And, no more cramps!! Something to look forward to!... sort a weird kinda way... :-)

    Holy crap, what a ride!!! Do you think Mira could “smell” the drugs that you took? Good for you for chalking up the ride as a lesson learned. They so know when you are not there 100%. Loved this description: “clinging like a barnacle on this mare running mad all over the place”. You must have thighs of steel and great balance!!

    Feel better soon. Drugs and sleep...good combo.

  2. You seem to have made something good out of a bad experience - glad you stayed aboard! You're so right about having to really be there when riding a sensitive horse - Dawn's been teaching me that lesson.

  3. Despite what happened I'm intrigued by the mare. She sounds like she'd be great on a good day. And good for you for staying on! Good riding. As you say, if you'd not worried about the lost stirrup you'd have been fine. I try riding sometimes when drugged for a cold, but it isn't a good idea and I have very laid back horses :) You'd definitely need mind and body for Mira.

  4. Wolfie- it's Friday and my thighs are still sore from Monday! I only stayed on because every time I felt myself going off one side I pulled her head in that direction and popped myself back up.

    Kate you're right, imagine how bad it would have been if I had come off! My trainer says Mira's never done that before. If I had come off she might have learned a naughty trick.

    Carol, if I get to ride her again I'll let you know. Under a non-drugged-out rider she's a very nice hunter.

  5. That happens to me too. Some horses you must be in utter mental focus to ride.... which I can be a bit bad about! You should be proud of having a good seat though, Kudos for that!
    Oh and by the way... Tori Amos? Josh Ritter? Neko Case? Those are MY favorite artists... what a funny coincidence.

  6. Hi Golden, isn't the internet amazing? You find all sorts of people just like you that you never would have met in real life. Have you seen Josh Ritter live? He's fan-freaking-tastic.