Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gratuitous Kitty Photos/Obsessing Over a Terrifying Fall

Because those two topics go together well, don't they?
As for the first topic: I am cat-sitting my boyfriend's dad's new Bengal kitten.

His name is Beckett, and he is adorable.
"Who, me?"

 So this cat is 14 weeks old, and it just fell off the 9th-floor balcony of his dad's condo this week. No broken bones, no internal bleeding--and as you can see, he's still as active and curious as ever. Byron said they suspect there may be some brain damage though. I said, "No kidding!" which he didn't find quite as funny as I did.
He has little shaved patches of fur from the vet.
It's quite exciting, especially since I was previously allergic to cats. I had 3 years of allergy shots, and after 2 days of being exposed to Beckett, I haven't had any problem...which I'm taking as free license to get a cat myself sometime in the future, which is something I've always wanted.

Ok, end kitten love fest. On to horsey disasters.

I set up a line of four bounces 9 feet apart for my two students who jump. Kept it pretty low--all I wanted them to achieve was keeping their horses forward through the jumps, and then halting straight after the line (about 3-4 strides after the gymnastic). It was a low X (under 12") to a 12" vertical (maybe somewhere in between 12-18", but I don't think it was quite 18) to another low X (under 12"). The last "jump" was just a ground pole since we didn't have time in either lesson to turn it into a jump (I added the jumps bit by bit so we weren't starting off with the whole exercise).

First student: trotted through, no problem. Second student: trotted and cantered through, no problem... until there was a problem.

She was riding Levi (so sorry in advance to that person at Levi's old barn out there who commented once), and he had cantered through the 3 jumps and 1 ground pole twice with no problem. The first time he knocked a pole (on the 2nd X I think), second time, he jumped it great. Only issue was that he was a bit wiggly when she tried to halt him after the jumps.

Third time's the charm, right? So she asked me to video it on her phone. (Maybe not as bad as it could have been, but it makes me wince every time I watch. I'm obsessing, I know.)

It happened so fast there wasn't even time to be scared about it. From rewatching the video, it looks like Levi either knocked a pole from the second X or stepped on it, and then since they are PVC pipes, it rolled and he lost his balance, fell to his knees for a second, then popped up and trotted off. Poor Alex just flew off to the side. Both parties were unhurt, except for some bruises on Alex and a cut on the inside of Levi's lip. Not sure if he clipped himself with his hoof or what. I feel awful. I guess it's just part of teaching lessons, but I'm not quite at the level where I can just say, "Oh, are you ok? All right, fine," and then just go on with my day. Though who knows,  maybe when I've fallen in lessons my instructors felt the same way later.

I'm really not sure if it was that his stride wasn't as evenly paced as it was before, or whether it was just one of those random, unavoidable accidents. I thought I was doing everything right, since I know Levi has done fine with 9 ft. stride bounces before. And I thought you were supposed to go for shorter distances with lower jumps.

I don't want this to happen again when I do any suggestions, blogosphere? I've tried to describe in much detail as I can, so please weigh in if there is anything I should do differently from now on.


  1. I saw that video earlier today when somebody commented on it on facebook. I have to say, I've had a very similar accident with Kieran (he hooked the pole between his legs and went down in very similar fashion to Levi).

    I'm not sure there's a ton you can do beside making sure the horse has enough impulsion going into the gymnastic to make it less likely he knocks the poles and maybe consider investing in something that won't role if they step on them. I got a bunch of landscape timbers from Home Depot to use as my jump poles...they're not round so they don't roll and you can get them for like $3 each so they won't break the wallet, either.

  2. Also: kitty is adorable. I think Bengals are lovely.

  3. Woah, that's impressive! It looks like one of those freak things, apart from poles as mentioned above. It's always scary when they go down on their knees like.... I've never seen it cause serious damage before though.

  4. Scary!!! Filling the PVC poles with sand will keep them from rolling, which is a big danger to horses with no impulsion. My last jump lesson, my pony was kinda dragging her feet but when she did she would hit solid heavy wood poles. I would look into if it could have been the lightness of the PVC poles. I'm glad everyone is okay!!