Monday, July 1, 2013

Tumbling Dice...

Evidently, Sherman got an idea from Downtown Hottie's run at Belmont last week.

Yes, the BBW and I had our first involuntary separation experience, but we did have it together, which I think is pretty neat.  The first time you fall off your horse, why not fall together?

On one more about-to-be-hot morning before mid-day thunderstorms and torrential rains (enough with the rain already!), we went out to do some cardio trot work-- just a short session before the heat got too hot, but some good, serious work to try burn some calories.

Five minutes in to our real work, Sherm felt great, really flowing, giving his back, beginning to develop a rhythm. He had a minor stumble, but saved it and went right back to rhythm.  Stumbling is uncharacteristic of him, but I passed it off as turf interference because we were working in the grass arena, rather than our usual sand arena. I thought the grass would be a few degrees cooler on this already-heating-up morning.  Because I know he can occasionally shuffle more than stride when he's still a bit sleepy, I thought perhaps he had just not picked up his feet enough in the grabbier grass.

So when the second stumble came, I sat back and waited for him to catch himself, but I waited in vain.

The episode, like all my falls from horseback, has been etched in my memory as a series of incredibly vivid images separated by blank space that feels like hours of lost time.

I felt him stumble, felt myself consciously sit back, saw my hands come up a bit to steady the reins and catch him if he needed catching.

The next thing I saw was the side of his massive Morgan neck, from an angle which indicated I was parallel to his neck, a perspective revealing a completely inappropriate position for riding.  Seeing this image, I distinctly heard my brain say to no-one in particular, "Oh, he's not saving this stumble, and I don't think I'm in the saddle anymore..."

Dirt skidmark in Sherm's flymask-- evidence of faceplant.

The next image I have in my head is Sherman next to, and slightly behind, me on his knees, nose in the dirt.  This image is immediately obliterated from consideration by the sound and sensation of my lower back/upper butt slamming into the turf-- yes, I completed a 3/4 somersault and landed flat on my tramp-stamp real estate.

Brilliant cartoon by endlessorigami.com 


Some little voice in my head said, "Oh, if that was higher on your back, you'd have knocked the wind out of yourself, but you didn't!  Good for you!" and then I am involuntarily rolling away from the horse.

When I say involuntarily, I don't mean because of the momentum of my fall.  I landed flat-splat, well-grounded and on a wide, stable part of my body.  I mean involuntarily in that some instinctual, reptilian part of my brain instructed my abdominal and pectoral muscles to contract violently and pull me over, away, out of range of any part of Sherman that might be coming my way.  This is my third up-and-over forward fall from horseback, and for the third time, without any conscious thought, I found my primitive brain hurling my helpless body out of harm's way. Weird, that reptilian brain.  Glad to have it, though.

One complete cephalocaudal rotation of my body, and a peek back to see Sherm popping up from his knees to his feet and standing still.  He all but literally just shook it off and looked at me, feet planted firmly on the ground. Seeing this, the reptile in my head allowed the muscles to stop contracting and rolling, and I came to rest.

Then, of course, the full-body check, and it was all fine.  Surprised-- so fast this happened! Disappointed-- dangit, he was going so well, and we were just going to have a short workout, and now we're delayed, and he needs his cardio work, and I'm sure I'm hurt worse than I think I am, so I'll be out of the saddle for days... But in good working order.  And how funny to have the reptile brain give way to this analytic, neurotic brain again so quickly...

Sherm seemed more surprised at his lack of grace than frightened or alarmed by my fall.  Good boy just stood there looking at me until I started talking to him, when he decided to graze where he stood.  Hey, if you're getting off now, then I'm taking advantage of this grass arena!

After checking myself out and determining that the combination of adrenaline, heat, and perennial semi-dehydration were not going to be positive factors in continuing the ride, I elected to head into the cool of the barn and untack & clean us both up.  He was fine; I was fine but needed in out of the sun, so we called it quits for the day.  The surprise of falling was soon replaced with a touch of maternal pride at Sherm's mature handling of the first of many unplanned dismount eventualities, tinged with confusion at what triggered it.

I could see him trip a little in the turf, but to stumble to his knees?  So swiftly that he face-planted?  That  was really kind of inexplicable to me.  He's fancy, and handy.  No fooling, this boy is the definition of fleet-footed.  It began to nag at me.

It all became clear the next day, however, when my husband went out to mow pastures and returned to the house with this:
Sherm's RF shoe after a night in a rainy pasture

Obviously, Sherman had grabbed a new front shoe and tripped himself.  That deep, back-giving, flowing overstride was just a bit too much in conjunction with new, larger front shoes, set with a teensy bit more trailing edge than the first set of shoes.  Grabbed his shoe, gave himself the jr. high school "flat tire," and tripped himself a good one.  The loosened shoe then came off in pasture that night, and (yay!) timing was such that husband went mowing the next morning and found it.

So... he's not clumsy!  He's also not hurt, and I'm not hurt.  But now we're waiting for the farrier...and for the rain to stop...

Torrential Rains: Day 4