I Want to Hear About Your Near-Disasters
I was thinking just now about times when I've been working with or dealing with horses, and despite my most conscientious planning, things got pretty scary (fortunately few in number). Those times when all you can do is watch in awe and horror, and then, against the odds, everything works out alright and there are no injuries or fatalities. For instance, yesterday, I was watching my herd out in the pasture and my 500lb foal, who doesn't really understand the concept of personal space and thinks he can treat all the other horses the way he treats his mom, ran right up behind my sister's 1500lb warmblood. Naturally, she gave him a warning kick, but, because she's far taller than him, her leg got stuck over his withers and his front end got sucked under her when she tried to bring her foot back. So they were galloping along, her on three legs, and him with his neck and shoulders stuck between her thighs, and I was so terrified that she would lose her balance and fall on him and break his back, but there was nothing I could do. Fortunately, they got untangled, and nobody got hurt, but it could have been really bad. I mean, I guess all the babies have to learn the hard way, but I'd hate for the learning process to be fatal. SO, what I want to hear about is everyone else's near disaster's. Not that I hope you have them, but more that I hope I'm not the only one who does, if that makes sense.
Well, it was one of the first cold snaps of Florida winter, it happened just a few weeks ago actually. There was an advanced jumping lesson going on in the barn arena (three girls on their ponies), but there was also a woman riding her big QH cross, he's like 17 hands and runs a little hot. Then theres me with the OTTB, whos been off the track for less than two years. There were also three people on the ground, the instructor, the BO, and the BO's small son (he's five or six). The woman and her QH are trotting the barrel patterns while the three ponies are cantering the jumps. My TB wants to do all of this, but I'm keeping him at a pretty good walk. We stop in the middle of the arena to watch the lesson for a bit, and while I'm watching the girl do her barrel pattern, one of the girls ponies won't stop cantering. She's thowing a fit, is still cantering even though the girl is doing a pretty good one rein stop on her, and nearly running in to the other girls waiting for their turn. She finally gets the pony under control, and the lesson continues. A few more minutes go by, and the girl is doing the little jump course we have again. This time, coming out of the last jump, her horse slips, and since she was in two point she topples over. I'm not paying attention so I don't know what happened, all I know is that my TB does a bunny hop and backs up a few steps, so I look up to see a pony galloping towards us, and RIGHT in front of me she gives a good buck. The girl is okay, my TB doesn't take off, and the little boy wasn't trampled. Of course, my horses calm demeanor was probably due to the fact that I didn't see what happened, so I wasn't really freaking out about it.
Little things like that, huh?
Does a riding near disaster count?
A couple years back I was test riding a six year old QH mare for a friend. The mare was for sale, reasonably cheap. Listed as safe and sane well started horse. Not real tall, nice looking, sweet from the ground.
When my friend asked the owner to ride her for us she replied with "Oh no, I'm not getting on her!" my friend went ahead and got on the mare, she was halfway up in the saddle when the mare decided she was a reining horse and spun quickly several times until the half seated rider flew off.
At this point I was angry because the woman just got done tell us about the eleven year old girl looking at this mare who had just ridden her two days prior to us coming out to see her... This girl fell off because the mare "spooked" - upon seeing my friend I figured "spooked" my @$$! So I proceed to climb on the mare, slowly, all was going well, I got in the saddle, still good. Feet in stirrups, check. Picked up her reins and sighed then BOOM! Horse... Gone. She took off running, bucking and twisting across the arena and right for a high tensile fence that I did not notice until THEN. I thought about bailing but figured I'd kill myself so I braced for her to go threw the fence invisioning what this mare would look like once we went threw... Literally two feet before the fence she hit the breaks, sat down and I flew threw six strands of high tensile wire fence! I protected my neck with my arms as to not be decapitated but still have the result - a scar from a 7" long jagged cut and road rash on my left arm. The worst part was I had a bruise from the top of my knee to my hip that wrapped around half of the width of my leg, the largest bruise anyone I know has ever seen, it took 14 months to go completely away. It was a while before I could handle the pain of sitting in a saddle with that leg!
I guess thats 'near disaster' since I could have been decapitated! Needless to say I chewed this woman out for allowing someones 11 year old CHILD to test ride this horse... then told her I'd take her for free.
I had something happen recently that definitely could have been bad, lol.
I was leading my mare back to her paddock. In order to get there, you have to walk through a gate, through a smaller, narrower paddock (we call it "the alley"), and through yet another gate. Another boarder's mare, Grandma, is 36 yo and spends most of the day in this alley slowly eating her mush, away from her pasturemate so she can be in peace. Now I've led Lilly through the narrow alley with Granny already with no issues, as this old girl is very laidback and generally only cares about her gruel.
So off I go...we are just within the gate, when Lilly stops and plunges her head into Granny's water bucket. Granny is on my left, about two/three feet from my shoulder...then Lilly, then the fence right next to her. Well, when I pulled Lill's head up, she sidestepped onto my toe (ow). As this is happening, Granny's pasturemate is walking over (she and Lilly are still having issues) and Lills leans even more weight onto my foot to avoid confrontation over the fence...keep in mind I can't really get out of her way because Granny has taken another step closer and I am now sandwiched between two horses. When I finally manage to push her off me, she backs up (faster than what is appropriate, due to the pasturemate's iminent arrival), and swings her butt into the fence, causing the gate to crash into her rear and stirring up a cacophony of rattling metal and hinges that would have had most horses running for their lives.
Yeah, I was basically preparing to die...stuck between two horses as I was with my Arabian having just backed rather hard into the noisy and retaliatory fence...but nothing happened. LOL Lilly just stood there with her ears slightly back when I was fully expecting her to freak out. All Granny did was back up a smidgeon, and the pasturemate had skipped off somewhere.
So as you can see...I am very fortunate. :wink:
Another "near-disaster" experience involved my very first riding lesson. My instructor and I were standing in the stall of my schoolhorse so he could show me how to put the halter on properly, when a tarp started flapping outside. Dear old Chalk freaked and reared up...my instructor backed me into the corner and threw his arm out in front of me as this massive hunter was having a conniption fit right in front of our noses...we were trapped and could have been seriously injured so easily...but then Chalk fell over on his back, halfway outside (luckily the door to his run was open!), and scrambled to his feet with nothing but a small cut on his leg. Thus continued the lesson.
Such a positive introduction to my first schoolhorse, lol.
When I first got Hershey I took him out for a trail ride after working in the arena for a couple weeks. Things went really well until I let him canter in this big open stretch of field. After a few canter strides he some how threw his head forward and ripped the reins out of my hands and started galloping away. I had never galloped before and for a second thought 'this is really cool' Then I remembered what lay ahead of us. A big ditch about 20 feet deep with steep edges. We were galloping towards it, I was hoping Hershey would choose to take the bridge. He did not. We careened down the steep hill. Not really sure what happened but at some point he jumped over me. It all ended with me siting in three feet of ditch water and him standing in a bush shaking like a leaf.
When I had my first pony 25 years ago, I took her out for a hack along the road one day - I'd been out on the roads dozens of times on lessons, and had gone out with the other livery owners, as well as going out on my own. About half a mile up the road from the yard was a cross roads where you either went left or right, but never straight on.
I'd always wondered what was along that road, so I decided to explore, and I went straight on. The road was narrow and hardly used, and a little way along there was grass growing in the middle of the tarmac, when my pony saw that she took off at a gallop (well a rally fast canter) - since I had no idea where I was going I was frantically trying to stop her, but she wouldn't stop or slow down she just kept galloping. We rounded a corner and all I could see in front of me was an expanse of grass - the road petered out into open countryside!
I doubled my efforts to stop her, literally sawing on her mouth, standing in my stirrups and leaning back - she just lifted her head opened her mouth and twisted her neck from side to side. I was really starting to panic when all of a sudden she stopped... I shot up her neck and was hanging on around her ears.
I decided it would be easiest to let go and get off, I looked down and saw she was standing on the lip of a huge cattle grid
I had no idea it was there, and I've no idea how she saw it given the position her head was in! But she saw it and stopped ...
I shuffled back into the saddle and turned her around and went home.
Several hours later it hit me "OMG if she hadn't stopped!!!"
trottting on a grass verge in autumn on a countrylane, a car coming behind swerved off the road ( i think it skidded on wet leaves) and hit the horse from behind. jagged topped stone walling on the side, which i was petrified of landing on. horse took off and i went into remote control, with a loud voice in my head telling me what to do,literally had to jam my elbows to my sides. keep my weight back, etc. so the momentum didnt throw me forwards, and concentrate on not relaxing an iota, cuz if i did i knew i would be off. managed to talk to the horse,get it calmed down, and slowed down, and it amazingly was not limping. i rode all the way back through traffic, and when we got home and i got off, i literally was shaking from head to foot, i could hardly stand. the horse was ok, a slight bit of heat in its back legs, and 2 bald patches, where the car had luckily not been going fast, and so she had only had a glancing blow, a scrape, but enough to be very scary indeed. and the other times are, once in a school that was walled by railway sleepers, a loose schooled horse came too close to me, and i was nearly flattened between the two- scary, and once when i had to hold a horse which took of when someone banged a gate loudly, i tried to hang on, but was thrown under her to the front , and as i lay on the ground i saw the bottom of a hoof over my face, as she passed over me, only inches away; luckily, again, my gaurdian angels were with me, and i was not hurt.
It's amazing we live through some of these things. Those are really scary potential accidents. A lot of mine have been with horses getting out when they weren't supposed to be, as opposed to when I was in the saddle, thank goodness. A couple years back, my family had just acquired a 2 year old paint filly. Very cute, very new, kind of snotty, and our gelding HATED her (from over the fence, of course, as we hadn't properly introduced her yet). Well, two days after we bought her, she crashed through the fence to get in with our other horses, and Spot (our gelding) came after her, practically breathing fire, and ran her through an eight foot hardwire fence. She jumped through the top of it, so, fortuntely, it basically just bent over. She could easily have broken her neck, but she came out of it with nothing more than a grass stain on the end of her nose.
BTW, feel free to tell as many as you've got. I love to hear other people's horse stories.
New image- What happened to the scary kid's horse?
^ They saw she was a liability as-is and they could not continue to risk people riding her so she did let her go and dropped her off at my farm the next day.
I traced in back to over 10 owners in this horses short life span, she had no stability and way to many different people riding her as a green broke horse so she was all sorts of messed up.
It started with a few classic cases of "She bucked, sell her" and went down hill from there.
We eventually figured her out and let her live here as a trail horse for over a year before a gal came along and fell in love with her. Shes a little 4-H pony now.
Wow, what a lucky mare to have ended up with you. 10 owners in 6 yrs?! That's ridiculous. It's so sad when people don't want to stick with a horse long enough to figure them out and help them work through whatever they've got going on and instead just dump them on the first person who shows an interest. Good for you for sticking with her.
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