I did yesterday about as close to an emergency dismount as I ever care to try. Mia had some problems with scaring at dismounts a few weeks ago (Horse started jumping sideways on dismount
), so I had worked my way up to mounts, then mounts/dismounts, then mounts/ride/dismount in the round pen with her. She had done 25 dismounts without moving a muscle, so I tried her in the more open arena.
Did a couple mount/dismounts to start...didn't move a muscle. Tried to ride her, and she was wonderful...for about 5-10 minutes. Then she started winding up at every little thing. The woman who has walked her dog by 3 times/day for two years? Terrifying! A truck 3/4 mile away? Monster!
One rein stops and pulley stops would stop her...for about 2 seconds. For the next hour & forty five minutes, I tried everything I could think of to calm her down. Then my wife (who Mia really likes) came in the arena to see what was wrong, and Mia bolted. She just exploded forward. It took a half lap for me to get seated properly, then we did 2 more laps at a full gallop. One rein stop? To hell with that! She wasn't interested...and we've practiced a bajillion of them.
When I got her to a trot (by telling her "easy" - the voice cue was working better than anything else), we thought perhaps a flake of hay on the ground would distract her. No luck. That hay was poisoned, I tell you! A trap!
At that point, I was tiring faster than she was. So I did a one rein stop to a disengage...she wasn't stopping. So I figured:
1 - Smooth ground? Check!
2 - Reduced speed/disengaging horse? Check!
3 - Tony Lama boots with slick soles and good heels? Check!
I wrapped a loop around the horn to keep her turning an extra moment, then pulled my right leg over her back. My wife claims it was the fastest she's seen me move in years. I remember my foot scrapping her rump (I was beat at that point), I remember my right leg going down, and then I remember standing on the ground as she spun about 45 deg more and then got her head in front of her.
Then she turned away and bolted for 75 feet down the fence line, spun around and looked at me. She wouldn't come when called, so I walked to her and removed her bit (my reins snap on, and she was wearing a rope halter under her bridle).
I did some more work with her before returning her to the corral, but that is as close to emergency dismounting as I care to try.
When she was galloping? That would have been asking for a dozen broken bones. When her head was forward and she could explode in 1/10 second? No thanks. When she was disengaging and needed a half second to get her feet ready and head forward? That was enough, as it turned out, for me to get my feet on the ground.
It will probably be months before I ride Mia again in the arena, let alone on a trail. I don't know if the switch to using a bit 6 weeks ago is freaking her out or if there is some other problem. I've hired the trainer who 'broke' Lilly for us, and Mia is starting her training all over (with me doing the training under the trainer). From the beginning, so we can find the holes and hopefully plug them. 95% of the time, you can ride her no bit, loose rein and she is fine - but that other 5% is getting REALLY old.
And while I was using a western saddle, I was wearing my helmet - and it was a darn good feeling helmet yesterday, even if I didn't fall!