This week, I officially let my old barn know I was switching. I’m going to miss some of the folks and definitely the horse I rode there, but this is for the best.
This post is going to end up being the story of a fall, but first, I want to emphasize how much I like my new instructor and let you know how the lessons are going. This week, M had me ride Koda, a very sweet gelding. I’m not sure what type of horse he is, but I’d say he’s probably somewhere in the 15hh range and looks like perhaps a Paint. Or he just has that type of coat pattern. His mane has some really interesting color variations, too. He was very gentle as I introduced myself and groomed him and picked up his feet. M is helping me to get better at picking up the back feet, too. I always seem to do it from the wrong angle and get all contorted. It might seem remedial, but I really love that she helps me with the grooming for now so I can see how it’s properly done.
Anyway, I was nervous on Wednesday, just an anxious day all around. Willow, the mare I have been riding, is a little hot and a big mover, so I was glad to ride Koda and have a chance to just work at the walk. That was M’s plan for me before I got there, and I think it was a good one. Koda was testing me out by refusing to move, and Marie helped me to get him moving again myself without intervening. By about midway through the lesson he was responding better to me and we were getting along well.
M taught me the jump position and had me hold it AND keep Koda moving along the long sides of the arena. I hadn’t done that before, and the exercise really helped me to FEEL having weight in my heels and keeping my legs under me. I have a long way to go, but she really helped a lot through verbal reminders and just having me do that exercise. (Last time, I did some lower leg scissoring movements to help my lower leg move independently from my upper leg/knee, which was like a revelation, too. Great instructor. Seriously.)
I was doing OK and pretty confident so we moved to doing some work at the trot. Koda wanted to stop on me again, and M helped by pointing out to me to notice when he felt like he was going to stop and encourage him then. Somehow the way she conveys things just really helps me to understand. It’s going to take a long time for me to improve enough to say I’m anything more than a beginner rider, but I feel like I’m actually going to get there.
Anyway, we’re going along, and apparently Koda spotted something through the partly open arena door that spooked him. Upon later investigation, we think it was a deer down in the woods. I’m not entirely sure what happened but it felt like his back end went right under me and then disappeared, and I went flying off to the outside. It caught me completely by surprise, and I landed on my lower back/top of my pelvis and left hip, apparently my right elbow (it’s skinned), and conked the back of my head off the ground. Unlike last time, which just knocked the wind out of me, this REALLY HURT. For a few minutes I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get up. But I did. It hurt.
M helped me to get back on Koda and ride him around at a walk for just a few minutes, nowhere near the door, while she and another girl spotted me. They also spotted me to dismount, since my left hip got pretty busted up. I’m glad I did get back on, and I led Koda back up to the stable and helped brush him. I did have to get M to put the saddle away, though, because I couldn’t lift it over my head.
I ended up going to the emergency room, since I was in a LOT of pain and I’d hit my head. No apparent concussion and no fractures, but pretty extensive bruising and spraining. The ER doctor was really polite and efficient and I’m supposed to follow up.
Now, two days later, I think I have whiplash in my neck and everything hurts everywhere. I can’t do any running right now, nor can I go kayaking this weekend as I had planned to do. I’m scheduled to ride again next Thursday, and I’m hoping I can recover enough by then. I talked with M and Koda is usually not a spooky horse. I did say that I felt I really liked Willow, and we can continue to work with her on a lunge line for a while, and keep working on my seat. Her response made me feel a lot better.
Right after I fell off and for about 12 hours after, I kept thinking: Is this worth it? Do I really want to keep riding? And then something made me think about being in the saddle and I know I’ll keep going back. I’d go right now if I could.
I hope this post isn’t too incoherent; there are painkillers involved in my life right now.