Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

We're in day 3 of Training for 2010 and we already ran into the main limiting factor: Daun's brain.

But let me back up. After the disappointing ride Friday, Brego came back strong Saturday morning. We returned to the fairgrounds, in the rain, and he did much better. He's always better after some work, so I was expecting less stiffness and resistance, but he was actually better overall. So maybe he just wasn't in the mood Friday, or the heat really was affecting him.

Since we did canter work both Friday and Saturday, I decided our Sunday ride would be a long, slow ride along some trails I've been meaning to explore. The trail in question is the trail that leads to the state park 3 miles way. But between me and the state park is a swamp. For those of you who have never visited New Hampshire, it may come as quite a shock to learn that it's a giant swamp. Wet, wet, wet everywhere. This particular swamp is large, broad, deep, and exactly in my way.

So the goal was to ride out from the house, hand walk down the 1/4 mile of real road to get to the power lines, then head north towards the swamp along the easement trails under the lines. Then, the hope was to find a path around the swamp. From Google Earth, there is clearly a trail to the swamp and clearly a trail away from the swamp towards the park, but unless you had a boat, I was unable to connect the dots.

Since we would be doing a walking ride among the rocky power lines, I opted to boot Brego. The power line trails here rival any of the gnarly, rocky, steep, treacherous trails we frequented in Texas and since it's been raining for a week, Brego's feet would be soft. Best to boot him.

The ride was pretty uneventful going out. Brego was perfect along the road, very excited and forward to go somewhere new along the trail. He crossed very large puddles in the trail where the water came up to his knees without hesitation. After an hour, we arrived at the swamp and lo, there WAS a path, tucked away in the woods. We followed the trail as far as I felt comfortable since I did not know who owned the land, even with no "keep out" signs, it pays to be courteous. I could tell from the lay of the land that the trail would skirt the swamp, so there was my gateway to the State Park. Happy with our exploration we turned for him.

And that's when all my awesome brain power became completely useless. On a particularly steep downhill area, there was water actively running down the center of the trail. Brego opted to step onto the bank of the trail and he lost traction and slipped. Because of the large boulders dotting the wet trail, he was unable to catch himself fast enough and off I fell. He did manage to stay upright, and luckily stumbled off to my right as I braced for impact and hit the rocks. Road rash on hips, ribs, hands. Pleasant.

Brego stood calmly while I got up and checked him out. He did not appear to have hit a rock himself, no bumps or cuts, but I immediately removed his boots and attached them to his pommel. I am not sure if the boots were the problem, but they are clunky since they don't properly fit and he normally does very well over this kind of terrain. I hobbled on to his back and we proceeded. Luckily, I've taught Brego how to pack so the bulky boots banging against his shoulders as he navigated the trail did not seem to bother him. He felt even and fine on the way home and we finished the ride without incident.

Now for the Stupidity Analysis:
Although I did not ride alone, neither one of us carried a phone.
We did not carry a first aid kit or even a roll of vet wrap.
We failed to recognize that a ride out of the house can still be challenging and dangerous.
We started the ride at 4:30 pm, way too close to dusk if we were delayed by an accident.
Boots are a double-edged sword with Brego, I should have let him wear them on an easier ride first.

Thankfully, my horse was not hurt in the painful learning of this lesson. I have pommel bags for my English saddle, I will use them. And I will put a phone in them. And some vet wrap, for crying out loud. I will start my exploring rides early in the day and let my neighbors know where we are going. I will not assume any ride out my back door is an easy stroll. I will continue to train Brego to accept packs every chance I get. I will continue to mount from the off side, which was required on this particular trail after my fall. I will continue to train him to stand when I make my sudden dismounts. A horse running loose towards home down that road could have been a complete disaster.

He's a good guy, that Brego. He saved my ass today and had the good graces not to judge me for it.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a wonderful horse - he sure performed for you! It's nice to learn those lessons where no one got hurt and all worked out well.

Now That's A Trot! said...

Good to hear you both made it back safe and sound.

As one who regularly rides out on her own, I recommend attaching the phone to yourself rather than a pommel bag. That way if you do happen to part company, and Brego decides to back run home to get help, the phone will not leave with him. :)

Andrea said...

Oye! Boy oh boy that sounds like a fun muddy time ;P I agree about attaching the phone to your person intead of to the horse. I feel like since Brego is a good man he's probably going to stick with you, but got forbid a circus cheetah be chasing you through the wilds of NH and off he goes without you. Really glad everybody is okay, minus the road rash of course! Take some aspirin and call it a day.

dp said...

So sorry to hear about the spill, and glad that it was not more serious. And yes, phone goes in the inside vest pocket, not with the horse. Not with my horse, anyhow...she would not be likely to stand around waiting if she managed to ditch me.

Susan Quinn said...

Thanks for sharing some good lessons with all of us who venture out away from the familiar surroundings of our barns!
You know what they say..."It's only fun util someone gets hurt!"

Glad you and Brego are OK!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, so I won't have to do that myself to learn ;)

OnTheBit said...

Yikes...That was scary to read so I am glad you are okay. I think I need to invest in a pommel bag myself after reading don't think about stupid accidents happening to yourself because they are just stupid accidents. It was a good reminder that you can never be to safe.