Wednesday, August 10, 2016

First Fall Off Casey

I like to think that I have amazing balance. Whether or not that is true, it is true that I rarely fall off of horses. I have only fallen off probably five times in my life (including today). But even with my luck and balance it had to happen. It is inevitable that at some point I would fall off of my own horse.

Let me back up and start from the beginning. So at some point this summer my trainer wants to go with Katie and I (the two assistant instructors) to a lake to take the horses swimming. Now Katie already knows that her horse wouldn't handle it well (he would lose a shoe), but I am not sure if Casey would handle it well. One of my concerns is that I would have to ride bareback (because we can't ruin the leather saddles by taking them swimming). Today I decided would be a great day to see if Casey could handle being ridden bareback (see where this is going?).
I did free lunge Casey first to let her get her energy out. She had none and basically just rolled and them came over to cuddle me. Then I jimmy-rigged her halter so that it could act like a bit-less bridle. I figured she would be fine in that, because for a while there I was using a Myler combination bit with her that essentially used nose pressure before it transferred pressure to the bit. I led her over to the mounting block, tested half of my body weight without any reaction from her, and then tried to get on... causing her to freak out and really quickly side-step. She's really round and slippery and since I hadn't gotten on all the way my balance was off-center so I basically just slid off her back and landed on my tailbone.
Makeshift bit-less bridle
It did knock the wind out of me. I'm not going to lie, that hurt. I just kinda laid on the ground for a minute trying to catch my breath while Casey looked really guilty and concerned. After I kind of caught my breath, I made my way to the mounting block so I could sit. Casey came walking slowly over. She was acting like she had done a terrible thing. I gave her pats and told her that she was a good girl because really she was good. She just got a little freaked out by a new thing and that wasn't really her fault. Once the immediate pain has subsided I checked to make sure that nothing was broken (nope) and thanked the helmet gods for protecting my noggin (this is why you ALWAYS wear a helmet).
After falling off I really did not want to get back on. I was really sore and was a bit freaked out. But I knew that if I didn't get on her I would be creating a phobia for myself and probably a mental block for her too. So I decided to try again, but to slow it way down.
Casey was a bit nervous at this point too. She kept trying to sidestep away from the mounting block. With a lot of patience and calm words and pats, I eventually convinced her that the mounting block was not a scary thing. Then I got up on the mounting block and rubbed her back and her sides and her butt with my hands, just getting her used to me touching her. Then I put about a third of my weight on her back. She sidestepped away so we did it again. So I tried half of my weight. She was fine. Then I literally draped myself on her back (so my head was on one side and my legs were on the other). She sidestepped away so I slide down. I gave her tons of praise and we tried again. This time, she let me. So then I tried putting my leg partway over her back. She was fine so I kept alternating between putting all of my weight on her back and then my leg over. At this point, she was standing calm and sweet so I just had to get over my own fears. I took a deep breath and committed and then I was on her bareback!
Success!
She didn't even move because she is a sweet angel horse. I asked her to walk and she calmly walked. Then I asked her to stop and she actually stopped faster than she does under saddle. Since she was behaving we just walked around the arena, weaving around cones, doing circles, and practicing stopping. She was really good and relaxed. We didn't go any faster than a walk because I didn't want to push it plus I was sooooo sore, but I was happy that she let me get on and didn't freak out (after that initial freak out). I'm glad that I mustered up the courage to get back on because I know that if I had not I would have gotten even more freaked out. My plan is to get on her bareback at least once a week until it's not a scary thing for either of us and maybe eventually we can work our way up to trotting and cantering bareback. For now, just walking is good enough!
She was very good!
When and how did you last fall off? Did you get back on right away?

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