Dancer and I did it! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-03-2011, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Seminole, OK
Posts: 1,854
• Horses: 3
Dancer and I did it!

Well, sort of, anyway. Daughter's little rescue mare came home from the trainers. Trainer organized a short little trail ride as sort of a "graduation" exercise. The trainer generally doesn't send the horses home until they've been on at least one sucessful trail ride (assuming the horse is being trained as a trail horse) but had to send Nutmeg (daughter's horse) home a tad early due to extenuating circumstances. Nutmeg is doing fine, though.

Dancer (my horse/avatar) and I were invited to ride along as well. I was pleased that we were invited, but if most of you remember our story, I've been half afraid to ride Dancer because I am so large - I don't want to hurt her!) so I was at the point of declining when the trainer said she thought Dancer had gained enough weight and muscle (long story, there) for a short ride. I decided to accept, and even with all that went wrong, I really do NOT regret it!

We rode at Prague Lake's equestrian trails. Daughter had told me they were nice and level. I thought she meant flat, straight riding...boy was I wrong! The trails were lovely, and the morning was relatively cool for late June in Oklahoma (hottest June EVER!). Dancer hopped right up in the trailer when we got ready to head over, so I took it as a good sign (when we first got her she was a bugger to load, but I don't stand for that nonsense, and now she loads like an angel...most of the time). I know her previous owner said Dancer had never been ridden anywhere but in her pasture, so I was a little concerned about how she would handle a crowd. Our original small group blossomed into 15 riders by the time we were all ready to ride. Dancer took a little pursuading to line up at the mounting block for me, but with daughter's help, we got Dancer positioned without any fuss and she stood like a rock for me to mount. Daughter figured I would chicken out at the mounting block, but I proved her wrong!

Dancer and I stood at the trail head and watched the horses walking past us. Daughter road with the front riders, leaving Dancer and I to figure out whether we would actually follow or not. Dancer decided it looked like fun I guess, because it didn't take any urging to get her on the trail - we were in the middle of the pack. Dancer behaved herself - walkiing along at a perfect pace - not too fast (the lead riders were on Paso Finos, and we managed not to fall behind too much) and not so slow that the riders behind us got impatient. She walked along with her head up - looking around - didn't even flinch when some birds flew right in front of us (missed us by a couple of inches - the birds were fighting/argueing with each other). She did watch a deer standing off in the woods, but she kept on moving.

Some of the horses in the group were not behaving well at all - all but three of the horses in our group were mares, and I swear most of the mares were in heat! There was a lot of nipping and kicking going on. Fortunately for me, Dancer didn't take part in that! Daughter's mare kicked the snot out of another horse that kept bumping into her rump. Under trail riding etiquette, I don't know which was worse, the kicking or the constant bumping from the horse behind her. Nutmeg kept flattening her ears at the other mare, then turned her head and "snapped" at her, but when those warnings didn't work, she let fly with both heels. The other horse caught one in the nose, but wasn't seriously hurt - just a scrape on her nose. I told daughter we need to braid a red ribbon into her tail on the next ride. Maybe a green one, too?

The trails at this lake have "obstacles" scattered along the trail. They are set back from the trail so you don't have to mess with them if you don't want to. (The obstacles are in addition to the ravines and creek crossings that daughter deliberately failed to mention.) I figured I'd see if Dancer would go over/through the obstacles without any fuss. If she really didn't want to, I wouldn't push the issue. She was being really game about the whole ride - the ravines weren't particularly steep, but Dancer was carrying easily twice as much as the other horses, and she is FAR from young, and still needs to build up more muscle and strength.

The first obstacle was a wooden bridge, complete with railings. In a normal year, there would be a little bit of water running under the bridge, but it's been horribly dry. The bridge was deliberatly built to maximize the noise a wooden bridge would normally make. Some of the horses spooked and refused to cross, but my Dancer walked right over it with no hesitation!

The second obstacle was a set of "steps" that the horses walke up and down. They are horse sized and made of earth, and not very tall. Again, some horses refused it, but Dancer and I crossed with no issues.

Dancer and I on 06-25-11 trail ride at Prague Lake.jpg

The third obstacle was a "teeter totter." I didn't try to ride Dancer over the teeter totter - I wasn't comfortable with that one myself, and Dancer was starting to show her butt about that time. I should have listened to her - she was getting tired (we'd ridden about two miles by then) and with the extra weight she was carrying, we should have turned back. Our rest point was only a little further, so I thought we'd try to get there, but Dancer didn't know that her chance at rest was only a little further, and she wanted to turn around.

After she really started getting fussy (she sure has reverse down pat - but I don't think she could have bucked if she had to!), I decided to dismount and lead her for a while. Note to self: Short fat women who ride fairly tall (15HH) horses should never dismount on a slope - especially on the downhill side of the horse. My left ankle buckled and I twisted my right knee. Not a huge deal - I could walk with minimal pain, so we started off - going the wrong way, of course. I should have headed back, but stupidly thought I'd press on to the rest area. (I do need to mention that daughter stayed behind with me - I'm so glad she didn't get mad that I couldn't make the whole ride!)

We decided to turn around and head back before long, though. After we had walked about 1/2 mile, I thought we'd stop to rest (note to self - do NOT trust that daughter will remember to pick up the saddle bags with water in them!) While resting, I thought I'd try to get Dancer to flex a little for me. She did okay, but I wasn't paying enough attention, and when she stepped backward a bit, she stepped on top of my left foot. Ouch! Again, not a major injury. After walking a few steps, the pain subsided to a dull throb and we walked on back the trail a ways.

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-03-2011, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Seminole, OK
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The rest of the story

About a mile from the trail head, our group caught back up with us on their return leg. I figured Dancer had rested - she was no longer sweaty, so I looked around for a spot I could use as a makeshift mounting block. We were near a steep sided ravine, and it looked like the perfect place. The trail itself was gently sloped, but it had been cut that way, leaving high embankements on either side. I stood on an embankement and daughter tried to lead Dancer to where I was standing. Dancer would walk up to the right spot...almost. Each time, she was just a tad too far away. Another friend tried to push her rear over, and eventually, Dancer was pushed and cajoled into the correct position. As usual, she stood like a rock - the embankment? Not so much. There was a bit of an overhang where I was, and just as I started to climb on, it gave way. Somehow, I landed face first in the dirt up underneath Dancer!

I remember hearing a lot of screaming (believe it or not, it wasn't me!). Daughter said Dancer stood stock still until I landed, then looked around at me as if to say what the @!#! are you doing down there? Dancer carefully stepped away from me, but turned around and kept her head near mine (idiot horse). I knew that the third injury wasn't quite so minor - I heard a loud crack when I landed, so I knew I broke something, but wasn't sure what. When I tried to get up, I knew what it was. Fortunately, it was just a foot. Between daughter, friend, and the stirrup from a suddenly cooperative Dancer, I managed to stand up and walk over to the side of the trail, where the embankement was a good height to sit on.

That's when Dancer refused to cooperate any further. The plan was to lead her over to a tree and tie her up near Nutmeg. She was having none of it. Absolutely refused to leave me. I really wish she would have gone to the tree - I was getting a little worried that she might step on my feet. I would never have believed a horse would do that - I do NOT claim she was worried about me (thought that's what my friends say). I don't know what her major malfunction was, but she refused to be led away from me - she even snapped and struck at one big guy that thought he would show us helpless females how to handle a recalcantrant horse!

The ranger came and picked me up and took me back to our truck. I was still relatively mobile and was able to climb into the truck with a little help. Dancer really pitched a fit when we drove off - it took two people to hold onto her. I have no idea where that came from - she's pretty much been my horse since we got her - I was the only one not scared to death of her and not afraid to put her in her place when she acted up.

Nutmeg's trainer was able to calm Dancer down - she really has a way with horses. But, apparently Dancer was really upset - she just stood and trembled and got all sweaty. Dancer had never been ponied before, and refused to follow any of the horses. The only horse that had any success was the greenbroke Paso Fino that the trainer had brought. But, they finally got Dancer and everybody else back to the trucks. Daughter had to walk pretty much the whole way back - Nutmeg refused to stand still to be mounted. I think she was just excited and daughter was upset - not a good combination!

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the ER. I broke my left foot in the fall, and apparently sprained my already dinged right knee in the fall as well. I was stuck in a wheel chair Sunday and Monday. Got an air cast Monday afternoon - it helps the foot, but puts a terrible strain on the bum knee. Fortunately, if I don't walk around too much, I can do without the cast (the break is minor), which is helping the knee.

I'll go back to work on Tuesday. I can't wait for the foot and the knee to heal up - I want ride the trail again. This time, though - we will not try to ride as far - for both our sakes. I was also so saddle sore it wasn't even funny!

Sorry for the novel, but it was a great adventure! But, OH! I want to do it again! (minus the injuries, of course!)

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-03-2011, 10:50 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Louisiana
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You poor dear, what an adventure you've had. That WAS well told though, I'll say.
I'm proud of you for riding. As a former larger girl, I was too scared to do it. I'm glad you enjoyed part of your ride, and hope you heal fast!
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-03-2011, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Seminole, OK
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Strange as it may seem, while I would rather have skipped the injuries, the good part of the trail ride was still worth it!

Hopefully, next time we can have the good part again, and skip the bad part!

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-05-2011, 11:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Hope you heal up really soon so you can hit the trails again!
And Congrats on finally getting on her! Glad you had a good first half of your ride!

Sonya ~ 5 yr old Appaloosa/Welsh mare
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-06-2011, 01:47 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Dee, you are one brave soul!! What a great story that was. Have you conisdered a career on writing? IN any case, you did great in the face of many challenges and demonstrated strength to your daughter. I hope you will heal quickly and painlessly!
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-06-2011, 02:06 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
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I have to say, reading your tale was truly inspiring! Good on you for taking the leap and going on that ride. Yes, a few things went wrong, but just that fact that you did it and Dancer was so good is more than noteworthy!

And I just have to say...I want trails like that where I live! The best we have are glorified game trails. To have actual obstacles would be a blast (especially on my usually fearless Aires)!
Do not tell me I can't...because I will show you that I can.
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