Sunday, October 26, 2008

Well, Not Quite A Bang

About a week ago, I mentioned that this weekend would be chock full of horse goodness. We had the show hosted by my boarding barn on Saturday and then the New England Hunter Trials on Sunday. Well, the New England Hunter Trials were postponed until November 16th. So that left me with plenty of time and horse to play at the show on Sunday.

First off, my favorite 3rd grader did a pair of walk-trot classes on The Brego. They did awesome!


Next, I coerced talked my dad into riding Brego for the adult walk-trot. My dad has not been on a horse in about 5 years, has never ridden English and never posted the trot before. But he was a complete sport and did amazingly well! Brego's trot is NOT easy to ride, so I am doubly proud of him.

Brego and Dad

A little coaching from the rail

Victorious! A Handsome Man and a Handsome Horse!

Next came the adult lead-line. This time I took Dad around on my old TB mare. He always did love Hobby more!

Wave to the crowd!

Brego played in the adult leadline class as well!

Good sports, all around

Next came the costume class. This year, I dressed as a Ringwraith. Ok, yea I am a nerd. And I didn't have time to put together a whole new costume when this costume continues to ROCK! As in "spook horses and make small children cry" ROCK!


Despite the costume, Brego still looks sweet and cuddly

Notice the Eye of Sauron embroidered on the leather faceplate? Nerd!!

Practicing in the costume before the class

Waiting to go into the arena

Killer Brego

He's so very scary!

After the costume class, I did the 3' jumpers. Brego had good pace, and I felt like our distances had improved, but I got his too deep twice and we took two rails. I was pretty pleased with his round. We blew one lead, but all in all, not too bad.

Fall Horse Show from Eventing Percheron on Vimeo.

So that's the good stuff. Now comes the part about the Bang. The final class of the day was the Gambler's Choice jumper class. They set up a nice assortment of fences, including some Swedish oxers, slanted poles, 3'3" planks on upside down cups. I formulated a plan which included 10 fences. We had 60 seconds to complete the course and I figured that would be enough. We aren't very fast.

I was first in the class and we picked up a good pace. I started with an easy 2'9" plain square oxer to get us going. Brego jumped it big, but fine. Then I made my way around my course. I had a couple of hard rubs, a couple of rails, but in general, Brego was jumping well and my distances were pretty good. I felt much better this round than the previous 3' round. I jumped my tenth fence and there was no whistle so I came around to go back to fence 1, the easy square oxer that I have schooled literally 100 times and Brego had jumped well at the beginning of this trip.

As I lined up the oxer, I thought again about the whistle, distracted, then about two strides out, it looked long. Doable, but long. I figured it would cost a rail. I felt Brego coil and then we went forward and not up. Brego crashed through the fence and we both fell. I got the wind knocked out of me and Brego carefully got to his feet. People rushed over and helped me up and led Brego away. I was fine. Brego was fine. I felt him all over, checked his head for soft spots, blood. His mouth was clean and his nose was clean. he was bending his head in both directions.

So I decided to get on and jump a small fence, you know, "back in the saddle". As I mounted up, Brego stole a mouthful of grass. That's my boy. I was so relieved, he was ok. We jumped the small fence fine, both a little stunned and uncommitted. And then I took him back to care for him.

I decided to go ahead and post the video. I hate the "horse crashes" types of video. And I honestly think I know what went wrong, since I have watched it many times. Warning: The fall is pretty scary. My sister was filming and I know it scared her half to death.

Gambler's Choice Class from Eventing Percheron on Vimeo.

So what happened? A couple of things. The distance is a bit long, but not a full stride long or anything crazy. Brego plants his hind feet to jump at the proper place and then reconsiders. There's a confidence problem there, no doubt. Also, my ride was not helpful. I was thinking about the whistle, thinking about being done and didn't help him. I didn't tell him what to do, just rode him through. My TB mare would have looked at that distance and just jumped farther. Brego, at the end of a ride, and the end of the day, in the deep sand, probably felt my indecision and couldn't make the call himself. He's a green horse and I gave him a bad ride. I didn't stick to my plan and quit at 10 fences and I didn't stay with my horse. We had a great ride and then it all came crashing down, in the blink of an eye.

I asked a couple of people who's opinion I trust, after they witnessed the fall, if Brego should be jumping. They both said yes, but he needs a better ride, a more accurate ride. Any horse can make the same mistake, but I think fundamentally, Brego is lacking confidence. Even in the absence of my direction, he would have been fine if he had just jumped. He still had plenty of pace, plenty of gas. But for whatever reason, he didn't think so. And the question of confidence is my responsibility. We need more fundamental homework, more grids, more canter poles, more free jumping where he gets to make the call. He's a smart boy, he can make the call.

This post was very hard to write. Even though we are both ok, no sane person would walk away and not feel some guilt or sadness. I am so very lucky that Brego was not seriously hurt and that he jumped again. He is no doubt sore and I have everyone at the barn on high alert if he starts acting strange. I've checked on his twice so far today and will make the trip out again soon. He really is ok, and I am so thankful.

With the upcoming move, I am going to be taking a break from blogging. And from jumping. I need to clear my head and it's hard to do in a public forum. I know everyone will understand. At this point, it is my sincere hope to end this season, not with a bang, but with a whimper.


Kristin said...

Wow - I'm sorry about the fall, and glad to hear you both survived relatively intact. He looked fantastic in the costume - like a big Teddy Bear of Death. You totally deserved a first!

manymisadventures said...

Oh goodness. I know how you feel about the fall -- I've only had one or two truly ugly ones, but they really scared me.

Good luck figuring things out - we will be here when you get back. A little break never hurt anyone.

Awesome costume, by the way!

Melissa said...

Wow, what a fall! Thank goodness you and Brego are okay. I know from expirience that coming that close to having a 1700 lbs percheron nearly on top of you is really nerve racking. I've had a few scary falls myself with my seven percherons. But your round looked very nice until then. Good job!!

Maybe Mae said...

Oh wow, so sorry about the fall. It looked so scary! I understand about taking a break from blogging and clearing your head. I hope your move goes well and that you and Brego continue to improve together. So glad you are both okay!

allhorsestuff said...

So very glad that you are both alright and also that you did get back on and jump one more..good for the both of you! I know that was ans maybe still is difficult.

I was watching the end of the costume video..and there was a young tike stolled into frmae that looked all of 2 feet tall next to you'all!That cracked me up!

Mama2Arden said...

Sorry about the fall... and glad you are both okay. I will miss the blog... absolutely my favorite! Keeps me looking forward with Chi.... take all the time you need but know you'll have ready eyes when you're ready to come back and share the adventure again.

PS... fantastic costume!!!!! We had a costume contest at the barn today and I was a judge (19 horse/rider pairs) one was the kid that took our push button schoolie and did him up as a robot push button horse...complete with walk/trot/canter buttons :-)

dp said...

Great costume. All he needs is a couple of nails through his hooves and he'll be ready for the big leagues. (Although that kind eye under that scary mask will never be ready for the big leagues).

I love the first picture of your dad on Brego, and I love how fast your sister dropped the camera after that fall. Were they visiting from Texas, or did the whole family move to New England?

And so sorry about that fall, Daun. Very glad that you are both OK (are you two made out of rubber?) but it was a lousy end to a good ride. My internal dialog would be out of control right now, which is one reason I'm not interested in showing any more. Best to you and to Brego over the coming weeks.

Beckz said...
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Beckz said...

I deleted my first comment because I thought maybe it wouldn't be well received. Your costume was awesome, and Brego is an awesome guy to pack everyone around.

Laura said...

Wow - too bad about the fall - glad that you are both ok. That was scary to watch - can't imagine riding it!

On a cheerier note - way to go Daun's Dad for doing a couple of classes! Your Dad looked happy to be there and proud to be on the horses. Thanks for sharing that part too.

I hope your move goes ok - us bloggers understand needing a break... We hope to hear from you when you are ready to come back. We do need at least a few pictures of Brego at his new barn! :-)

Babies- Beth said...

Hello! I have a pretty nice picture of you guys in costume- I can post in on my blog or just email (I think!) it to you! ~ great picture of Kate, by the way! Re: the fall- he was a tired horse, too... Falls can be so confusing~ one doesn't know what to think! After 'are we ok?', of course. From Alex's mom

Babies- Beth said...

oops, should'a said you can leave me a post at

MARGIE said...


Sorry to hear about your fall. It was unfortunate, but you both came out unscathed, thank God.

I'll miss your posts. I am always excited to read all about your adventures. You and Brego have been an inspiration to me. Since I have started reading your posts, I have looked at my Clyde/QH PMU baby (7years old now) with new eyes. She is no longer a pasture ornament, but a real live sport horse! She is developing into a true athlete, just like Brego. She loves to learn new things, is sensible and has a talent for jumping. Like many people who have grown up with the lighter breeds, I went into ownership of her with the usual prejudices. Husband horse, cart horse, something for the little kids to ride. She is all those things and much more. We will be entering minitrials next spring in the Very Green division. We finished a successful season at Intro. She cleaned up at our local dressage assocation Championships. I'm very excited about what lies ahead. I would love to take her foxhunting as well. Thanks for the inspiration-never quit!

Mikey said...

That was hard to watch girl! Oh my gosh. You two did go all the way down. I bet your sister had a few heart palpitations.
I've read here for a long time now and lurked, but this is the first time I felt I had to comment. Don't do a blogging break now! We love what you're doing, and Brego is getting famous! He is a magnificent horse and I love what you're doing with him. I hope it inspires people to adopt a draft and do the same.
Keep up the good work and I'm glad you and Brego are not injured physically or mentally from that fall. That was a bad one.

sylvia said...
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sylvia said...

first, i just want to say that i'm happy to know that you and brego are fine. shaken, but physically okay. looked great out there! he looks to just need to pick his feet up a bit more! he is a big boy, and needs to figure it out. and he will. the two of you are a great team and will find a way to work together successfully...a fine tuned machine, you will be!
loved the little girl on brego, and your dad looked like he was having a good time and what a great sport! thanks for taking the time to blog about your experience...the positives and negatives. i hope you're not away for long. blogging can be least for me. take care, you. give brego an extra sugar cube/carrot/treat from me!
P.S. great costume!

Rhyadawn said...

Great costume!

I'm sorry about that fall. It would definitly rattle even the most seasoned rider. These things happen, we make mistakes and we learn from them. Take the break that you need, but please don't give up on your dream.

Anonymous said...

really sorry about your fall - and know how scary they are even when neither horse nor rider are hurt. My warmblood and I had a scary fall while schooling fences a number of years ago. It was my own fault as I wasn't paying enough attention to the footing and asked him to make a turn just too tight for his big frame. And he was obedient enough to try what I asked. His faith in trying to do what I wrongly asked made me feel terrible afterwards.

I know you're more worried about Brego than yourself, but consider getting in for a full work-up at your docs as well - even if you think you just got your bell rung.I didn't and found out a week later that was a mistake. No harm, no foul, but a trip to the docs never hurts.

As a fellow geek, I love Brego's costume. Teddy Bear of Death indeed! Great phrase Kristin!

jessica morthole said...

Well I am glad you are okay but don't beat yourself up to badly over the fall. I ride a crew of horses all under the age of 7yrs old and they are mostly all ottb's. I will tell you that I have had several of those same types of fences perhaps not with the same result but scary nonetheless. They make you reevaluate your riding, your training, your lessons, your horses and so on. Can you tell I have been there?

Matter of the fact I was looking at the video from my last show with a youngster. He is a 4yr doing his first Bn but second event ever. It was going fairly well but during the middle of the course I had two awful fences. The first was a bit long and then we took a really long one where he swam over it and luckily we arrived on the other side. I had enough sense to think mmm perhaps I should sit up, half halt and organize.

I had a lesson this weekend and we specifically worked on me giving a different ride to this particular horse who is so slow. My instructor (h/j based) said that he is the type of horse that I have to ride every single stride and be 100% responsible for his balance. I also need to stop pushing him three stride out from the fence. She describe it as pushing a kid into a haunted house. I am pushing and he is getting lower instead of me sitting up and just waiting. If I sit up and wait with him in the correct balance he will produce a better jump. Even if you have a rail they need to learn to jump from the base of the fence and we as riders need to wait/support to the base.

I just thought I would share my thoughts simply because I feel like I have been there.

Glad you are okay and my thoughts are with you.

The Uje said...

We will miss you!

I watched the video of your fall twice and gasped both times. Very scary, so glad you two were ok.

Good luck with the big move, and try not to stay away too long (I need to keep living vicariously through you).

Wiola said...

Oh dear! Hope you are both ok!
On another note: I LOVE that Brego costume!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

That fall looked SCARY! I'm so glad both of you are ok!
You're costume was great and that pic of you and your dad with you looking up is priceless!

Tina said...

Brego is suck a doll. He did awesome in both walk-trot classes, even though you could tell he wasn't as fold of your dad's ride as the little blondy. Your dad sure was a sport, though.

I crashed our older mare, Dolly once just cantering down the road. It happens. The guilt won't go away, but you'll have learned something from it, and will be better in the future.

Good luck with the move. I'm so jealous!

One Red Horse said...

Well heck, I can understand taking a break but hope it is a short one. I have so enjoyed your stories about you and Brego as you build your already considerable skills. Most of all I enjoy your self-reflection as a rider. Your deconstruction of your lessons and rides offers such insight for your readers. You and Brego have accomplished so much! I'll be watching for your return to this blog.


Meaghan said...

I'm so glad you are ok. I had a horse fall out from under me and I have yet to come across anything scarier then that. Im glad you both are ok. And look on the bright side that you got it on film, that way you know what happened rather then trying to rely on your adrenalin influenced memory and everyone else's. Mine was caught on tape too, and trust me in a few years you'll be able to pull it out and use it to show how tough of a sport riding is ( I used it to explain to this guy I wanted to date that I didnt just sit on the back of the horse and try to look pretty.) fyi that guy is now my husband ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the fall :( The sport of riding is like that though, huh?
I know you were, or still are, questioning Brego's ability to handle this rigor of jumping, and I always compare it to human hurdle runners. If you watched the olympics this year, many of them fell/knocked down hurdles/wiped out other runners in a wreck. It just goes to show that although they train every day and have a 'superior brain' compared to a horse... even people can't be perfect all of the time. It's one of those 'when... not if' situations.
I watched the fall a few times and I agree 100% that it's a confidence issue, or perhaps he lost train of thought. Someone told me that two or three strides out from the jump, the horse can't see the jump anymore, because it's out of his field of vision--so he's jumping a mental image of where he thinks the jump is, when he was far away enough to see it. (This also coincides with what your jumping trainer said once, that you can push the horse but three strides out, you have what you have. hm!) Maybe Brego's confidence issue is less of a 'can I jump it?' and more of a 'can I *see* it'. As you've noted and we've all seen, he likes to drop his head low before a jump occasionally. Maybe the issue is there? He feels he needs to see the jump, when he theoretically "should" be jumping it from memory. I would be curious to see how he would jump if you brought them down to 1'6" or something really tiny. Maybe because he didn't have a lot of jump practice leading up to this little show, he felt the need to 'check in' with that last jump.
But, ah, this is just me musing, and if anything maybe it helps. Certainly can't hurt. I am still impressed more then ever that this 'eventing horse' can pack around dads and children in an arena!
And on a side note, I too moved not too long ago to have my horses at my home... it is truly one of the best things that EVER happened. Take a break, you deserve it. You know we'll all be here when you get back. :)

dp said...

Maybe DIJ is on to something? It's just a dog analogy, but when I first started training Willow for flyball I trained her box turn to the right -- the way she usually turns when running at liberty. She was fast and consistent on the box, but she bobbled the ball about 30% of the time. It took about a year of me agonizing over this (she is a super keen spazz ball, so I figured that was the problem) to finally notice that she doesn't see very well out of her left eye. The eye looks fine (though the pigmentation is mottled) and she doesn't bump into things, but when you are looking hard you notice that she relies predominantly on the right eye.

A veterinary optometrist confirmed this for me, I retrained the turn to the left and she has been a great flyball dog ever since.

All this to say that animals can suffer from all the same vision deficiencies that plague humans. Unless they are obviously blind we have no way to know how well they see relative to how well we think they see. Brego does like to look at the jumps up close. Maybe miopia is contributing to his lack of confidence?