To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


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.


Theresa said...

Yikes Michelle! I can't tell you how often I've worried about that scenario out in the woods. Neither of the boys are terribly flighty but horses are horses and spring rides are our most unpredictable with the months off for winter.
I am so glad you are both okay. You're right, it could have been so much worse but ouch, ouch, ouch! It's bad enough. If that helmet took a hit it should be replaced. Much easier than head replacement for sure! :-)

Alanna M said...

Yikes! That is scary! I'm glad you are alright and had your helmet on.

Michelle said...

Yeah, replacing the helmet is probably wise, even though it doesn't show any damage. I'm still surprised at the size and tenderness of my head bruise; I think it's from hitting the ground, but I'm not sure.

Michelle said...

Me, too, Alana!

Mary said...

Woodrow and I took a similar trip up in Prineville at an endurance ride. I did exactly what you did, and ended up with a collapsed lung, broken leg, collarbone evulsion, serious bruising and soft tissue damage. PLEASE see a dr if you feel anything is not working right...I didn't realize my lung had collapsed. So glad you are ok-get a new helmet and get back on :-)

Unknown said...

Oh my! Not a good adventure at all. Michelle, I'm so glad that nothing serious happened to you or Lance. Sometimes, life just seems like a series of fender-benders!


A :-) said...

Holy Crap, Michelle! Thank goodness you are OK and that you had your helmet on. Yes, just like a bike helmet, if it took a hit it's time for a new one. And you might want to go to your GP and get checked out if you're not mending as you should. I know we take a little longer than when we were 20-something, but keep an eye on yourself. And rest as much as you can.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Yikes :-(. Glad you are basically okay. I agree, replace the helmet. Even with no visible damage, it should be replaced.

Michelle said...

Mary, you and someone else both sustained much worse injuries than I did; I am very grateful it wasn't worse for me! (Although maybe my guys would appreciate me more if I was TOTALLY incapacitated for just a LITTLE while.) :-/

Shelly: ...or train wrecks.

No rest for the weary, A, but I am taking it slow for awhile.

Kelly said...

Wow Michelle, never a dull moment with you!! I'm so glad you are ok and only sporting bruises and aches. I can't even contemplate hitting the ground at a full gallop anymore. The ground is so much harder now that I'm over 50! lol
Take care and heal quickly!

LannieK said...

Glad you are moving and just bruised!! Yea, this age thing is a total pain.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Well you are lucky, daughter's neighbor got unloaded down a rocky ravine, broken sternum, ribs and collapsed lung, and helicopter ride. About your age maybe couple years older, out by herself, fortunately someone found her quickly.

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

The cost of a new helmet is a small price to pay for protection Michelle.
Oh how scarey - I'm not a horsey person but I admire them from a distance, they are magnificent animals.
My son's partner has always worked with horses and she works for a stud out of Melbourne.
You may have seen some of my photos from there earlier in the year.
You take care dear friend, I think it's great you're still riding at 53, good for you.
This was probably a one-off - maybe Lance would enjoy a gallop along the beach, ot is that too far away from where you live.

Michelle said...

Kelly, I should have "contemplated" it a bit longer! ha!

LannieK, I guess we should be thankful we get the opportunity to grow older; so many don't get the chance.

Oooh, that's bad, Audrey. Glad she was found quickly.

You are so right, Shane. It probably took me until I was 50 to finally commit to wearing one EVERY RIDE; thankfully, God protected my stupid head. And I LOVE riding on the beach; just can't make the time to go very often.