Alternate title my 9 year no-fall-off streak is broken. This shit hurts when you’re 30+. What the hell!
Let’s step back for a minute though. On Tuesday night I had an amazing lesson.
The ride started really crappy. Our warm up was really lackluster. Tucker decided it was time for a new test and stopped listening to my leg. I think that I have fairly substantial leg muscles but Tuck was acting like my squeezes and nudges felt like no more than a fly landing on him.
Left leg to yield left. No thank you very much I think I’ll fall in to the left instead. Squeeze to walk from halt. Nope. Squeeze harder. Nope. Put all of my strength into it. A very delayed response into a very slow walk. WTF!
I tried firing him up by doing transitions. That normally works. Not on Tuesday though.
I spoke to G about the problem and he had us do an exercise to fix the problem. I call it ‘beat your horse’ but maybe I should call it condition your horse to respond to what you’re asking. He wanted us to work at the walk and trot. If our horses didn’t respond to our cue to move forward we were to cluck 3 times and at the same time use the crop 3 times behind our leg.
This worked like a dream! One time is all it took to get Tucker moving forward at the walk. A second time is all it took to get him to do an upward transition when asked. And a third time is all it took to get him to leave the centre of the ring when it was our turn to do a course.
G says that it is usually an exercise that they do with jumpers to sharpen up their response to the leg. He also stressed that it’s important to allow your horse to go forward. If you’re walking and all you want is a more forward walk but your horse trots. Allow the trot. The idea is to get them to think leg equals forward. After a few trot steps you can bring them back to the walk.
From there we moved on to jumping. I won’t bore you with the details. Everything went perfectly. Thanks to the ‘beat your horse’ exercise we had enough rhythm that we nailed every lead change. Something that we’ve been struggling with for weeks now. And when I remembered to use my aids properly (i.e. I remembered that there are two sides of my body and should use both) we nailed every distance.
And then last night happened.
I rode a lot later than I normally do. I planned to ride for about 20 minutes. Just long enough to work on 2pointober.
We were in a small side ring. There was only enough light for us to work in a 30 meter circle. No big deal.
We were cantering around to the right. I asked for a downward transition to trot. Tucker tripped. Bad.
He went down on his knees and buried his face in the dirt. And I went right over the front of him. Thank god he got his feet back under him or he would have landed right on top of me. I’m not sure exactly what happened. I may have somersaulted. I hit my head for sure and I think my left hip or lower back area. I rolled immediately onto my hands and knees but then saw I didn’t need to get out of the way. Tucker just stood there (good boy!) while I got my breath back and assessed the damage.
I slowly stood up and he walked towards me but he put his foot through the reins. I said whoa and he stopped dead. I love my horse! I gave him a hug, inspected him and then got back on. Thankfully he was sound. We did a bit of trot and little bit of canter. He was extra careful. His transitioned seemed extra smooth.
I’m anthropomorphizing here but when I got off he acted guilty/sad/sorry. He wasn’t his normal self. While I talked to a friend he hung his head like he’s the worst pony in the world. Normally he’d be trying to eat or get back to the barn. He just stood there. So I picked up his head made extra sure there was no cuts and told him it wasn’t his fault. Then he let me cuddle his head and give him a rub.
After that everything was back to normal. So I’m not worried about him. He happily dug into his hay when I put him back in his stall. I on the other hand am going to need a few days.