If tears are a waste of time, well ticktock. If fear causes panic, well prepare to be hurt. I’d rather try stuff and fail than say I was helpless to do anything about it, even if it turns out I was.
One early fine Spring day I was riding Cola (he who I have never fallen from, as opposed to Scout, whom I finally made it through a year without falling off) and we came upon a group of back yard loggers. They politely turned down their machinery (chainsaw, brush grinder and something else that was quite noisy) until we had just barely, passed by. Then they turned it all on full blast and felled a tree, yippee! Cola spooked hard. Oddly enough scaring a horse from just behind is more freaky than if it’s in front of them – and here was a farm family, what happened to animal knowledge?
So we were running full blast down the edge of a black-topped road with deep water-filled ditches. I mention the ditches because usually if your horse bolts the best strategy is to turn them in a circle; that was not a possibility. Oh, I thought about it and decided the chance of doing a forward flip in mud, horse included, wasn’t worth the experiment.
So we ran (he did, I just hung on like a tick), which wasn’t so bad except that there were mailboxes and driveways and buses with kids. Black top, just to add a bit of worry, is a bit slippery under hooves and I didn’t have the stirrup leathers short enough to stand up enough out of the saddle because I really hadn’t thought we’d be running. The reins, not really useful for stopping. He had stiffened himself in fear and didn’t think my judgement was sound. So being in charge of reins, doesn’t mean you’re in control, you may have them and still just be along for the ride.
My thought, when he persisted at high-speed, was “I will stay in this saddle. No way am I falling on black top!” And then I purposefully got rid of the falling thought, because I have noticed that thinking something can make it happen.
Horses usual maximum bolt range is 0.7 of a mile (I know this because I had previously had some experience with a horse that wanted to bolt for various reasons and I wanted to know how far he’d run if I did nothing). There were several times in our dash that he started to settle and respond but flood waters where he hadn’t seen them before, new logging piles with his upright tree-friends missing and the big yellow speeding school bus renewed his speedy purpose. Horses are very aware of changes in environment. You may wonder, did the school bus driver look concerned? Nope.
We were starting to run out of road (it stopped and made a T) no way could we make the corner nicely, plus after school traffic – eek. Cola stopped, I told him to, was totally affirmed in my purpose, resolute and he stopped. It was about 0.7 mile, so he was due to stop.
There was no falling, nothing terrible happened. No animals, children or even middle-aged women injured in this drama. I did end up with sore muscles, hanging on like a tick is harder than you may think.
He and I walked the same section of road back and forth several times then to help create new history, a history without a freak out run for both of us.
Did you think having the reins actually meant you’re in charge? I know a person who had a cop ‘friend’ turn on the siren when he saw his friend riding his horse — oops, bucking.
I do re-creations of a
scene in my mind (just like in diving practice or cheer- leading) so I can practice the reactions I want to quickly have, do you do that? I also check reference information to arm myself with alternative choices. Anybody else a fan of MacGyver.