Or, sometimes you're the bug.
Yesterday I was anxious to get back on my mustang man after a weekend away and four days out of the saddle. When Brian went to the neighbor's to do some yard work, I got my opportunity. After a thorough grooming (yielding an impressive 'harvest' of winter hair!) we headed out through the woods. I rode up the driveway of our easterly neighbors to let Brian know where I was going and admire his work – a little side trip that turned out to be Providential.
We left the neighbor's and headed north on the gravel lane past the peach orchard when Lance stopped. Two deer had just crossed in front of us but something else caught his eye; then he spun and bolted. My one-rein stop didn’t work; it just turned him into the peach orchard. I dropped to his neck, but still took hits from low limbs. When we emerged from the trees I looked up and realized I had one more chance to turn him – into the yard on our left – before the woods closed in on the one-lane gravel road. I hauled on the left rein and got him turned onto the lawn, getting whacked by yet another tree in the process. At that point I decided I couldn’t take any more hits and bailed, thus taking one final, big hit from the ground. I lay there with my eyes closed, listening to the thundering of Lance's hooves nearing and then fading quickly into the distance, taking a mental tally of my condition. Nothing seemed broken, so I struggled to my feet. I thought about calling the neighbor Brian was working for to pick me up, but decided that if I didn't start moving I soon wouldn't be able to move. Slowly, painfully, I limped towards home the shortest way – up that neighbor's driveway. How thankful I was to see Brian leading Lance towards me! I really didn't know where my charging steed would end up; I think his choice to go up that driveway was directly related to our having just been there. Brian caught him, tied up the broken rein, and came to look for me. Together, we headed for home.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I beat myself up (inside, to match the bruises on the outside) for the rest of the day. Fifty-four-year-old women should not bail off galloping 16-hand horses. I should have lined Lance out on the gravel lane; eventually we would have faced a long, steep hill that would have slowed or stopped him. But what's done is done. I’m battered, bruised, and moving v-e-r-y slowly. It'll be a few days of ice packs and round-the-clock Aleve – at least – before I'll be able to mount Lance, much less ride. But I know my guardian angel was looking out for me, because it could have been so much worse.
Oh, and wear your helmet. My head is bruised instead of bashed because of mine.