Saturday, February 18, 2012

Riding Other Peoples' Horses for Them: Pro/Con

Pro: Free! Sometimes even paid! Sadly, I have no experience with the latter. The only time someone offered to pay me to ride a horse, I ended up doing a flip over the horse's head, banging my own head on a round pen, and landing in poop. Which brings us to the Con...and I'm not talking about Tegan and Sara here.

Click the picture for full-size

That would be Joey, the new horse I'm riding twice a week for free thanks to COTH's Riderless Horses and Horseless Riders matchmaking thread. My "interview ride" went great, although I have zero experience in dressage and the ad I answered said he goes better in a dressage frame. I took that to mean--stretch him down, and sit back, which gave us a great first ride.

Then yesterday happened. Horses always seem to know when I need to be taken down a notch. There were a lot of little kids and commotion in the barn, so I figured  that with that and the unseasonably warm weather, I'd try hacking Joey out in a big open field with a couple of power lines to watch over us.

I hopped on, felt that my stirrups were a bit long, thought, "Eh, whatever. He's used to that; he's a dressage horse," and walked around, just checking out the terrain for 10 minutes or so. Tried to pick up a trot and realized I was not used to long stirrups at all, so I dismounted, fixed them, and realized something else--I have to work on mounting from the ground and Joey needs to work on standing still for more than two seconds. So we moseyed over to the stool/table thing that I had used to mount up the first time. No problem--then I asked for a trot, and it was sayonara for Joey.

I'm not exactly sure whether he bucked or what, but all of a sudden I was hanging on his neck, and I knew things weren't going to get any better from there so I bailed. Hard. I must have landed on my back, judging by the bruises today, but he definitely knocked the wind out of me. I mostly remember just trying to catch my breath on all fours in the soggy grass while he hightailed it to his hay and his buddies in the barn down the hill. I followed him--much slower.

The farm does therapeutic riding, and so far it seems like stuff is generally well under control. The farm manager had Joey in hand by the time I made it down the hill. I explained what happened, and she pointed out that my face was bleeding. My glasses had cut the side of my nose.

Great, I thought. I touched the bridge of my nose and looked at the blood on my finger. My boyfriend's going to give me crap about this one. I tried to pick a SAFE horse this time! A THERAPY horse, come on!

Turns out he hacks out great in therapy lessons...with an instructor and sidewalkers. My definition of hacking out is a bit different. So I cleaned up, hopped back on in the indoor, and made that little son-of-a-gun MARCH! spite of the stars before my eyes.

Moral of the story: Don't assume an ex-Pony Club dressage horse will hack out. And always wear a helmet!

PS--I was worried I might die in my sleep from a horrific brain injury (though I did wear a helmet, as always) so I called a nurse hotline. Apparently everything is OK and I should just ice my neck, take it easy, and command my boyfriend to give me "gentle massages." Sounds good to me.


  1. Very entertaining and relatable! Love reading your blogs, CE :-)

  2. I am determined to become an internet equestrian sensation!!!