Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Memory Stuck like Glue...

       It was a beautiful crisp spring morning, the snow had finally melted away and we were eager to ride outside for the first time that year. I was 12 years old at that instance, riding a 6 y.o. OTTB (off the track Thoroughbred) that was feeling fresh as the day itself. I was a little nervous about my lesson that A.M., the first one out of the barn was rarely pleasant with the wind and runoff streams everywhere. It was like entering a new planet for Image and the other horses. I took a few deep breathes before climbing on and thought to myself... I'll be alright, this crazy beast spooked and bolted all winter at the sound of snow falling off the tin roof more frequently than not, I have legs of steel. ;)
      The group consisted of 4 of us, all young, fearless "wannabe" eventers, ready to take on anything! (Except for dressage of course.) We walked as slowly and as cautiously as we possibly could down the long driveway to the jump ring. Everything was so astonishing to our mounts... birds 10 feet in the distance scattering, people talking, dogs barking, cars zooming.. things the horses were used to (or so we thought.)  All of us riders began whining and asserting "Are you serious right now?" to the hankered horses. We made it to the ring, still on board thankfully, and began warming up immediately. Image settled down pretty quickly and I was quite pleased with him. We slowly cantered around each direction a few times and then started jumping.
      Everything was going great and I was ready for this lesson to be over so that I could guarentee my safty and that satisfaction of accomplishing a difficult task. My instructor pointed out the last litte course to me and off we went, picture perfect! Yay! Now I can relax! I thought, dropping my reins to the horses neck. I sat back and "chilled" for a sec. Not thinking that Image could put his head down to scratch his face, if he wanted to (which he did) whoops! There went my reins right over his ears, I giggled a little. As he started to walk forward he stepped on the reins strapping his head to the ground. My poor OTTB startled himself, threw his head up into the air and got smacked in the eye by my now broken reins. (Not so funny anymore....) This all happened so quickly that the thought to jump off didn't occur to me until after Image had already taken off in a frenzy toward the stables. I held on to my (hornless) saddle the best I could trying not to scream (I didn't need to make things worse.) The galloping horse made it to the back of the paddocks where a small creek rambled along and found the need to jump over it, rather than go through it. This slowed him down tremendously just in time for me to hit the ground. Luckily the landing was soft with grass and mud. I was physically okay, but emotionally distraught.
      A few hours later my mother picked me up and my trainer had to explain to her what happened that day. After telling the story (mom in shock) she laughed and looked at me and said "bet you never want to ride him again, huh?" I thought for a moment, shrugged my shoulders and replyed "It wasn't his fault."

By: Katie Honeywell

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I hold my breath and hang on tight, every time they gallop across the country. Mother of an EVENTER