Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rear cinches and tarps

Today, I started with Rio. Kendall really wanted to ride him. I thought it would be a good idea to use him for her riding lesson. He has lots of go and is a great listener. She likes him cause he's smaller and less intimidating. I warmed him up on the ground first and tacked him up with my endurance saddle. We went to the round pen and started with the walk. I tried to help Kendall keep her feet parallel to the ground. I also want her to stay on her balance point. She was holding the cantle and I asked her to hold her arms out. She enjoyed her arms straight out and felt like she was flying.

We did a lot of circles at the trot and canter. Her seat got better and she seemed more confident. Rio did such a great job being the lesson horse. He did everything I asked.Kendall really likes him and I imagine she's going to try to talk me into keeping him. We don't need another horse! lol

When she was done I went for Tina. I already had Tina tacked in my Western saddle for the first time. She has never worn a rear cinch before. I planned to spend extra time preparing her for that pressure. She is very sensitive, and I expected her to worry about the rear cinch.

We also worked on desensitization. I had the tarp and I played with her confidence by asking her to smell it, step on it, wear it, and let me stroke her neck with it. It was obvious that she had never done this kind of thing before. So I took my time and we spent about 90 minutes with a tarp and a savvy string. It was all about the friendly game.

She bucked several times while I was working her on the ground. But she seemed to be getting more comfortable with the groundwork and the tight rear cinch. By the time I took her into the round pen, she seemed calm and ready for some riding. I went to mount her and she seemed worried. So I played with her at liberty for several more minutes at all gaits.

She then seemed ready. So I asked her to stand for mounting and she did. Calmly and, it seemed, confidently. Once I was up there, I played with lateral flexion before moving off. She still seemed fine. I then followed the rail and asked her to move the fore. Eventually I asked her to move the hind and that was when she fell apart. My gut instinct is that the rear cinch hit her in such a way that really scared her. She bucked like a right brained horse! And as I laid on the ground after going off she was still fighting the sensitivity on her flank.

I realized right away that the reins were hanging down and just waiting for Tina to put in a hoof them. I asked Chrissy to try to grab the reins before Tina got stuck. Unfortunately, Chrissy got there a moment too late. Tina came up fighting the reins around her leg and landed a my ankle. Ouch!!

I knew my arm was broken from the fall. I hoped that my ankle wasn't broken. I couldn't really move but I tried to stay calm. Chrissy took Tina back to the barn so we could talk about what help I needed. I didn't need an ambulance, but I knew I needed to go to the hospital. She got the horses tack off and took me to the ER.

I have run the series of events through my mind 1 million times. What could I have done differently? What will I do next time? I know a few things. From now on I will always prepare with a flank rope for the rear cinch. I will also play on the ground with the rear cinch tight at least three times before I try to ride. Her reaction really surprised me. I haven't seen her react that emotionally in all her time here. Was it the wind? Was it the detachment from the herd? Was it simply the flank sensation? I may never know.

I realize that this is the stuff that colt-starters are made of. It's not easy. It's dangerous. But when it's done right the dignity of the horse is intact. That's my goal. And that's where Tina and Nina and Rio and all the horses I work with will be in the end.


Alice said...

You did everything right . . . horses' minds offer us an endless, fascinating quest to understand. Your outlook is admirable and it's amazing that you didn't reference your injury in the title of your post. Best wishes for quick healing and thanks for typing one-handed to share this experience.

Tia Jones said...

I truly appreciate the comments, Alice. Healing well and 5 1/2 weeks away from full throttle. I have a ton of ideas for ground work once I get the cast. Thanks!