Still battered and bruised from my weekend “event” with Maggie, I managed to load her up again last night for another round…
(I’ll get back to that in a moment)
Believe me; going riding was the last thing I felt like doing with how I was feeling but… Tuesday would be the only decent day before the weekend and…if I am going to ask Maggie to complete a 25 mile limited distance on July 17th, it’s time to start putting more time and mileage on the clock.
So, after icing my ankle and neck for 20 minutes, popping a few ibuprofen, I loaded up and headed out to the state land for a 2 hour ride. The weather was beautiful. For the first time in weeks I didn’t get rained on while riding. I even managed to find a way to place my rate monitor Maggie where it didn’t bother her. It proved to give me some good insight into her level of condition, which I hope to track over the coming weeks.
Last night's ride was going to be a faster paced excurion but Maggie was either a bit tired still from Sunday’s long day, or possibly the fact that she was in heat was affecting her energy level. Needless to say, she seemed a bit lethargic. After a couple miles, she did perk up a bit. She even decided that she wanted to travel at a nice easy trot. As long as she didn’t get too speedy, I let her decide what pace we traveled at. When she offered to trot, we trotted, when she wanted to walk, we walked. This was kind of a huge revelation for her because normally, she wants to just go, go, and go. We did have to climb a few hills and her heart rate would jump a little higher than I would have liked to see, 145-155 range, during the climbs. I would stop her at these points and let her recover before continuing on. She did manage to recover to below 130 within a short amount of time which I was glad to see however, I can see, her fitness level is lacking in hills. On the long and flat areas where we trotted she seemed to maintain at about 117-120 range. I thought that was decent. We probably managed to cover at least 10 miles, several of which was alot of up and down. I won’t ride her again until Friday or Saturday so she should have time to recover well.
Now, back to last Sunday....
Let's just start by saying, I haven't been bucked off a horse in a very very long time. I have had horses trip and go down with me but actually getting bucked off just hasn't happened for several years. Maybe I was due and as it turns out Maggie was just fit for the job I guess.
Yep, she unloaded me pretty hard last Sunday and I am still working through various injuries, mostly minor but still painful... I was thankful I had my helmet on as I took a good bump to the head, which caused me to have a bit of a sprained neck, a sore shoulder and a swollen and painful ankle , probably sprained as well.
Anyways, we were out marking trail for the upcoming endurance ride here. We all rode out in teams of two, with our maps in hand. The goal was to start placing flags lightly to mark the assigned trail. There were 4 teams of two riders. Steph and I were a team and going along enjoying our route. We had already ridden about 6 miles and were supposed to turn back at the creek and mark the trail as an out and back. As it turned out, we were surprised to meet up with another team, who weren’t supposed to be where they were based on where they rode out from. Of course at that point, we all got curious and thought there must be a way to loop this trail (it’s all new territory) . We decided to see if we could figure it out. We rode for quite some time before we popped out onto a nice two track grassy road and decided we could make up some time and do some trotting out. The other team was out in front, then me and my co captain Steph. One of the other riders had a dog with , which wasn’t any bother to any of the horses, including Maggie. Mostly... The dog at one point, decided to pass Maggie and I on the right hand side, which just happened to be a steep uphill bank. There wasn't much room between the hillside and where we were. The dog, realizing it was harder to run along on the side of the hill decided to jump down....right in front of Maggie. She tried to avoid him but couldn't and as he yipped away, out of harm, she startled. She let out buck and a huge (or what felt like a huge) jump. I think the dog startled her to be honest because he appeared out of no where from her line of vision. Unfortunately, when she jumped, she slammed into Steph and her horse to my left, practically landing on them and in the collision, I lost my right rein... which was completely stupid... I have no idea how I lost my rein. As I scrambled to try to regain the rein, she continued to buck but added a little twist, what I prefer to call a sunfish maneuver. Now, remember we were traveling at a fairly fast trot when this all started, so we have a good amount of momentum built up. At this point, my saddle is starting to slide and Maggie is still trying to climb all over Steph’s horse. I suppose it had something to do with the fact that I have no right rein, and cannot steer her off to the right. As I am struggling to grasp at the rein and managing to only find air, Steph is now asking me in a somewhat panicked voice “What is she doing? Get her off?” Being a little pre occupied to answer Steph’s question, my saddle is now starting to roll to the left. Maggie has the withers of a 50 gallon whisky barrel so there is nothing to stop the saddle at this point. I am already unbalanced, yet still … trying to get that rein!!At this point, Maggie decided to end the whole thing and put me out of my misery…and lets out yet another hard buck, I imagine at frustration. I remember thinking during this entire thing, "I'm not coming off, I'm not coming off, I've almost... got....it...." atleast until that final buck when I finally thought to myself..... “Oh the hell with it”…
...and there I went… off the left side.
I landed on my left shoulder and somehow ended up rolling onto my back (the momentum I imagine) and hitting my head on the ground. I remember looking up and cringing as I thought Maggie was going to step on me but she managed to avoid me, thank god….
Everyone got stopped and I got up, mostly unharmed. The headache set in right away from hitting my head. (yes, I had my helmet on) I was fairly sure it wasn’t hard enough to get a concussion but I knew I needed to pay attention to see if I started feeling worse… I readjusted my saddle and climbed back on. We still had a ways to go to get back. The good news is that we did manage to find a connecting loop for that trail. The bad news is that it poured the rest of the way back.
By the time we arrived back to the horse trailer, I was feeling the soreness set in and while my head hurt, my symptoms weren’t getting any worse. I figured I was mostly okay and likely to not lapse into a coma or anything. My right ankle was giving me more grief than my head, which was odd because I didn’t remember hitting it . Nonetheless it was quite painful when I got out of the saddle and it was certainly swelling up. I think Maggie was as happy to see the trailer as I was as she announced our arrival. Two other riders were already back. That made two more riders still out.
I unsaddled Maggie. She was tired but happily munched away at her hay bag. I took advantage of the time to rest while we waited for the other riders to get in. My head was throbbing by this point. It turns out that two other riders also had “incidents” but nothing serious. Guess it was just one of those days.
I was not looking forward to the drive home, and wishing Steph knew how to drive a truck and trailer since she was riding with me. Unfortunately, luck was not with me that day and my co pilot, only nineteen years old had had no experience driving a trailer. Now certainly wasn’t the time to learn.
After resting for about 45 minutes, it was time to load up and get us all home. The drive went without incident but by the time I pulled in to my driveway I was ready to be done…
So, ice and anti-inflammatory meds are my close friends this week. My sprained neck is improving but the ankle is being a bit less cooperative. I think it’s just a soft tissue thing because I can bear full weight on it. Like I told Tom, now JB and I both have a bum right ankle!
I couldn’t help but think with this incident that I really have been rather spoiled with JB. Had I been riding him, things probably would have looked a little different. He would have simply taken care of the situation, struck at the dog to get him to move out of the way, and carried on just as though nothing had happened. I guess I have a few things to learn yet about Maggie.
I just wish I could have a set of aftermarket withers installed on her...