Today was supposed to be my second day checking out Mia in a new bit. It turned into the day I first practiced an emergency dismount...from a total standstill. And it looks like a Motrin kind of night tonight...
Everything started off normal. Just a day for riding in the arena, since the wife & youngest daughter are out of state on vacation, and the two oldest are married and out of the house. Cleaned Mia off, saddled her up and mounted. Sat still & scratched her withers. Scootched [technical term for wiggled some] to get my legs loose and deeper in the saddle. Started at a walk. Did some easy turns. Neck reining well. Then...
Well, I don't rightly know. She exploded. I instinctively pulled with the left rein because her balance is better to the left. We did a full 360, and continued around for another 180, since we stopped facing the opposite direction. Imagine a horse galloping in a 5 foot diameter circle. But she stopped.
Hmmm. What is wrong with this picture? Why is my left foot level with her back? Why is the saddle horn parallel to the horizon, and the saddle completely on her right side? It wasn't like this about 5 seconds ago!
She seemed to be wondering the same thing. I tried to get it upright, but no doing. I had tightened the saddle to its normal hole - one punched between the regular holes and the only one like it so it is impossible to miss. The saddle was on tight...and sideways. She was standing still, but she was obviously waiting for me to give her a good explanation, and getting concerned that I wasn't giving her one.
I wanted to say, "This is an advanced dressage technique, where you ride the right side of the horse. Later you switch to the left side, and that way your horse gets even exercise." But you know, I don't think Mia was going to buy it!
So with my left foot level with her back, and Mia becoming more concerned with time, I said to myself, "Bob, you're copulated!" I didn't use "copulate". I used another verb, one pithier and a bit more expressive of how I felt. "Do you know what an emergency dismount is, Mia?", I asked. Her ears were swiveled, but I felt the time for conversation was over. I slipped my feet out of the stirrups and pushed off as hard as I could onto the concrete floor of the arena.
Technically, it isn't concrete. Technically, it is Arizona dirt. Arizona dirt and concrete are, however, closely related!
Meanwhile, Mia practiced the emergency dismount part where she went a buckin' and a snortin' and a fartin' off past me as I rolled away from her. As I pulled myself up, I saw her sprinting for the place of ultimate safety - the corral.
I limped over and took hold of the reins. Then I had a dumb idea. Imagine that - me with a dumb idea! Who would have guessed? I tried to upright the saddle from the ground. No doing. For one thing, the saddle was still tight. For another, Mia spun in a 360 around me and took off doing the whole "a buckin' and a snortin' and a fartin' " thing again. There are a lot of reasons why no one has ever called me "Twinkletoes"...I weebled and wobbled and did a slow motion fall on to some rocks. In the places that Arizona dirt isn't concrete, it is rock. In fact, the rocks may be the soft spots.
I pulled myself upright in time to see Mia fall flat on her side at a full gallop. She got up and galloped to the far side of the corral. I limped over again, and she started dancing around before I even got there, threatening to bolt. I was a bit perturbed by this point. "What Would Clinton Anderson Do?", I asked. Then I decided CA could go copulate. I picked up a rock about half again bigger than my fist, and chucked it at Mia. Caught her on her rump, and she took off again. I met her back at the point we had parted ways after I tried to shove the saddle upright, and she stopped next to me and hung her head. At least THAT was better! I would have asked, "What Would Parelli Do?", but I didn't have a carrot stick to shove up her nether regions.
So this time, I stood on the side where the nylon off-billet was. Nylon is slippery. I clipped the reins to the rope halter under her bridle (something I should have done earlier), and gently eased the nylon just off the tongue of the cinch. It wasn't easy, because the cinch was tight. When I finally got it loose, I stood back and let it drop.
Mia bolted east, but I was ready...I bolted north. When we both hit the end of the rein, she was spun around 180 facing the saddle on the ground. I rubbed her nose, told her it was OK, and put her in the corral.
The story will continue after some Motrin. I'm too old for days like these.