Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gravity Blows

I suppose there is more than a little irony in the fact that I was considering "Defying Gravity" as my latest show name possibility, considering that last night, BOTH April and I did the exact opposite.  It was just another night, other than the fact that we were going to do a little jump schooling for the first time in a while, thanks to the overwhelming amount of rain lately.  We had a beautiful warm-up on the flat - relaxed, responsive - really tuned in and listening.  I decided to work over our few cross country jumps, because it seemed to be the best option in terms of footing.  I warmed up a little more in the jump field, and it went off without a hitch.  We started schooling, and it was going quite well considering how long it has been since our last time over fences.  She was a bit excited, as she always tends to be over fences, but not bad overall.  If she got too cranked up, I would bring her back quietly, focusing on really using my seat and leg instead of relying on my hands.  Then I would work for a minute at the walk and trot, working on controlling her shoulders.  Instantly it would settle her, and she would start responding better to my seat and following my rhythm.  After a few circles on the flat to get a calm steady rhythm back, I told her we were headed for one last line, and then we would be finished - the tires, the hanging log, and the log jump.  Turns out, I should have kept my mouth shut.

Less than a minute later, after coming off the tire jump and heading for the log, April veered a little further to the right than the path I had intended her to take.  I closed the door with my right leg to guide her back in the direction we needed to go, but it was too late.  She had swerved too far from the dry sandy footing toward what looked like perfectly acceptable ground, into a patch of straight mud, completely concealed by a cluster of leafy weeds.  In an instant, I found myself falling off to the left, and was extremely confused at what could have possibly happened for me to be falling...until I looked up and saw her withers headed in my direction. 

Apparently her feet had hit the mud and shot out from under her to the right, leaving her body to fall to the left - and throwing me in that direction as well.  To defy gravity may have been the goal, but I assure you, at this particular moment, we came crashing down like a ton of bricks.  I'm not sure what part of me hit the ground first, because the only thing I really felt make contact was the back of my head.  It bounced off the ground pretty vigorously, and then I was left lying flat on my back.  I heard a thud within inches of my body, and saw her hindquarters slam to the ground right next to me.  In a split second, I saw her start to stand up - and realized my left foot was still stuck in the stirrup.  I shook my foot frantically just as she was getting to her feet, and managed to sling the stirrup off my boot as she bolted off. 

I laid there for a second or two, taking inventory, then rolled to my stomach - enter the pounding on the back of my skull.  I grabbed the back of my head, made sure the helmet was in one piece, then got to my feet and started quietly walking towards April.  She had stopped a few yards away, and was literally standing full-alert, staring at the spot where we had gone down.  As I approached, I could see her entire body quivering, and it nearly broke my heart.  I talked softly to her as I grabbed the reins, and scratched her forehead to reassure her.  Then I led her over to the tire jump so I would have a place to mount.  I knew as soon as I had stood up, that there was no other option.  I have come so far in getting over the fear issues.  No WAY was I going to take a chance of getting some crazy mental block about jumping again.  If she was sound, we had to try again. 

I picked up the trot - everything felt fine.  In all honesty, I can't remember what jump we did first, but it went all honesty, she jumped it better than anything else had gone that evening - mostly because she was completely looking to me for guidance.  I could literally feel the hesitation underneath me, but all I did was maintain the rhythm going in, and she hopped it beautifully.  But I knew I had to do the hanging log again, since that was where we were heading when the fall happened.  Again, I felt her begin to hesitate about four strides out, so I talked to her as I continued to keep the rhythm of the canter.  And again, we leapt it quietly and finished with a calm canter off the back side of the fence.  I dismounted and sat flat out on the ground for a few minutes.  I was fighting back tears, since I didn't want to scare my adorable helper, who had watched the whole thing happen.  In all honesty though, the terror of several moments before had hit full-force, and it was MY turn to shake like a leaf.

I picked myself up after a minute, and we headed back to the barn.  April got a Vetrolin bath and a complete rubdown with liniment to ward off any possible soreness.  I started trying to clean a stall, but I had this increasing feeling of fogginess, and I couldn't quite shake it.  Thankfully the feeling subsided before long, and I started feeling more like myself.

I was so nervous on the way to the barn this morning, but after a jogout, April still looked completely normal.  I felt up and down every inch of her, and didn't find an ounce of heat or swelling anywhere.  Sadly, I didn't fare quite as well - I woke up with a thumping headache in the back of my skull that I haven't quite been able to shake all day.  I've been nursing it with an ice pack, which really seems to help, and praying it will resolve itself speedily so I can get back to riding again tomorrow.  April is getting a mandatory day off today, just as a precaution mainly.  That, and I doubt that I should be riding, as I suspect I may be nursing a bit of a mild concussion....Hopefully it's just lack of sleep, or even whiplash.  Either way, I have warned all my coworkers and friends to consult a professional if I suddenly start drooling on myself.  HA!

In all seriousness though, I am so thankful that it wasn't any worse.  I know without a doubt that we had divine protection, and that so many things were narrowly avoided that could have ended so badly.  I am so grateful that out of the entire thing, I walked away with a little headache, and April seems to be none worse for the wear.  I am so incredibly grateful.  Here's to thanking our lucky stars, and perhaps searching for a new show name....  :-)

Not exactly the way it happened, but close enough to give a bit of a visual....


  1. aye aye aye. I'm glad you and April are both ok!

  2. Might consider some thanksgiving at church this weekend...