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We Are Flying Solo

March 22, 2010

Always Listen To Your Gut. And Your Horse.

This one is for all y'all out there like me -- trying to bring a horse along without 50 gazillion dollars, reading articles about all these successful riders who never seem to have any real issues, and getting worn out from constantly smacking yourself in the forehead wondering why your horse endeavors just can't seem to progress that smoothly.

So Saturday was a gorgeous 75 degree, sunny, low humidity, dream of a spring day. I thought since we were leaving Saturday evening to head down to the mountains to camp, it would be nice to get another light jump school in. I hesitated a little (here's that smart lil' gut chiming in) -- I just jumped Solo on Wednesday so I thought, hmmm, is that overdoing it? But I convinced myself I wouldn't work him that hard, it would be fine.

We'd been working pretty hard on our dressage Thurs and Fri, practicing those canter transitions (still improving nicely, yay!) and some lateral work. As I warmed up Saturday morning, Solo stepped out nicely, but I could tell over our warm-up crossrail, he was feeling a bit tired and maybe a little sore. I pointed him at our gymnastic line of four jumps. And he stoppped soundly in front of the first one -- which from him I KNOW is a clear statement of No, thank you ma'am, I am tired and sore and not up to the hard work that is this gymnastic.

Ah, but I should have listened. Folks, it really IS ok, to do something else and come back another day sometimes. But instead, I stubbornly clung to some rhetoric that said I had to do this RIGHT NOW.

We came back to it again, he jumped the first X but stopped at the bounce vertical after it. Again, clearly telling me Lady, I have warned you that I am not up to this today. Again, I do not listen -- I lower the jumps and insist on being stubbon.

It should come as no surprise that the next time through, he jumped the first two in a sort of lurching fashion which threw me a little off balance, then spun out at the third one, neatly depositing me on the ground. Which by the way, also reinforced why I am the helmet nazi as I landed on my back and felt my head hit the ground with a soft thunk. Woulda hurt a lot more without that helmet on there. As Courtney King-Dye can tell you, if she ever gets to tell anyone anything again -- she is STILL in need of all the good karma you can send and still unable to speak or do much after fracturing her skull when a horse fell in the dressage ring with her. Like many dressage riders, she wore no helmet. Being a beautiful, talented rider sadly cannot save you from the fact that falls and horses are inevitable partners.

I grumbled and cursed but climbed back on, mostly unhurt aside from a few pulled muscles. However, it appeared I was still unable to learn even after being whacked on the head, so I tried that stupid gymnastic AGAIN. Pretty much same result, including landing on the ground AGAIN, despite some fairly impressive dangling and clawing in attempt to stay on that really only resulted in MORE pulled muscles.

At this point, I am more stubborn and idiotic than Satan's own mule, so I climb back on again and do the damn gymnastic again. This time, we do make it through, although Solo is jumping flat and hard, which means he is definitely tired. We do a couple single jumps, to make it positive and quit there.

Did I accomplish anything aside from making sure that Sunday and today, I limp around in astonishment that I cannot use any of my extremities without pain? No, I doubt it.

I did finally manage to learn something from it though: ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR HORSE. Solo is honest and generous but his body has limits and he tried hard to tell me that I was asking for too much. Even my gut knew that I should take it easy that day. Fortunately, pulled muscles and bruised bums will heal fairly quickly (but dear God, they sure hurt more as you get older, owwwwwww....) and I have no ego to bruise, so we'll be back on track shortly.

So don't feel alone next time you have a REALLY BAD riding day -- we all fall down and we all make bad calls and the best we can do is examine them and learn what NOT to do next time!


  1. Good take-away from your unpleasant experience!

  2. I always wear my helmet...i have had some fall-offs that were unexpected too. I am glad that you posted this blog. We all need to listen to our horses. You have enforce what I have always done. Good Job!

  3. Thanks -- I sure was kicking myself afterward, well, at least mentally since it hurt too much to bend my legs, LOL. Thinking, WHY WHY did I do that, that was just dumb and unneccessary! Whatever would we do without the forgiving nature of horses?

  4. Thank you for being willing to share the good, bad and the ugly. I needed to hear this. ~asharri

  5. Oh, we are all guilty of not listening to our horsey friends. I know I have done it on multiple occasions. Looking back, everything's so clear. But it's much harder to see how pig-headed you're being when you're in the moment.
    I'm glad that you're smart enough to wear a helmet and are only suffering from starined muscles and a bruised ego.
    Off topic -- but, just out of curiosity, how much does your chiro charge?

  6. You are most welcome, Amanda and I'm glad that it is helpful. My goal with this blog is to provide the WHOLE picture. I hate that online so many people just invent this imaginary life where everything goes perfectly and I want to be honest about the process, whether it's good or bad. It helps ME learn too when I sit down and think about and write out these things!

    Frizz, the majykal Dr. Darcey is $130 if you are new client, first visit, then after that, adjustments are I think $90?

  7. She left out the part of the story where for the rest of the weekend she yelled "ow ow ow" every time she mounted her horse.

  8. ROFL, lh, well, that is Sunday's story, I haven't posted that one yet!!

  9. It's nice to have an honest horse that really lets you know where he's at. My old girl was that way. Once I learned to listen, we got along really well.

    Hm, and Izzy too... I guess maybe it's a more general thing than we think.

  10. So true! Sometimes we ignore every signal our horse gives us.

    Except the one that puts us on the ground.

    Glad you had your helmet on!