August 21, 2012

Shattered confidence

I write this blog with a heavy heart.  My love is horses and the past couple months have created instances that have made me question whether horses make sense in my life.  But rest assured those thoughts were fleating, I cannot so easily turn my back on horses.  If I ever get fearful enough I can just stay on the ground, buy a mini or just do driving instead of riding.  Lost of options but I'm not near that now.

In late June I rode Divine and had quite a nice lesson that ended on a horrific scary note.  We were riding a nice cadenced trot down the main side of the arena when I think my right foot fell out of my stirrup bumped her and she shied, either that or she shied and my foot fell out.  It all happened so fast.  The left foot got pushed into the railing on the side of indoor and got caught.  I think Divine spun as I pulled on the reins in panic at having my fear of the railing come to fruition and then I landed hip and head into the sand.  Ouch.  I was dizzy and really shaky.  My right hip still has some pain even now, I had whiplash for weeks and I still have a bump below my ankle bone. 

Well after this incident I did not get another chance to ride.  The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs broke out and my Emergency Preparedness Team for Public Health was activated in the emergency operations center.  After the 2 weeks or so of constant running I left for a week for a conference in L.A.  Then I came back and left with my husband for a vacation in Cancun!  Divine is always overly sensitive in my opinion, if the stirrup did indeed bump her and cause her to shy into the fence then that's just par for the course.  I'm overly sensitive too, and react in a way that just aggravates the situation.  I see all these clinicians that desensitize horses, how about desensitizing humans so we stay calm when a horse shies or moves suddenly.

Last week I rode a horse for a trial, Desparados Storm.  He seemed sweet and the owner rode him around a bit.   Then we put the saddle on him for me to ride.  I walked him in a small circle in the driveway area of the property, when we approached an overhanging tree Storm started and then raced off towards the barn.  Only one door was open and I was afraid I would be scraped off.  We made it into the barn with all its junk and pieces lying about in the aisle.  Storm stopped and turned left quickly and I flew into the side of the stall door.  There was a tree stump, some bricks, other machinery....thank goodness no circular saw!  I hit the stall door hard and scraped my back along the bolt.  Not sure what I landed on but the aisleway was hard even though it was dirt.  Below is the picture of my rear, a cutout of course.  The largest part is about 7.5 inches across!

Just this Saturday I had arranged to have a lesson on Divine, I told Laurie I wanted to stay at the walk.  That sounded perfectly fine.  I arrived a few minutes early and watched Megan on Divine.  As Divine trotted by the entrance in which I was standing she shied away.  Crap.  What the?  Then Megan worked on the canter with Divine and she raced around the arena.  Laurie kept telling Megan to sit back and relax, it took Divine a while to finally canter nicely.

Next I got on and we did sepertines and some leg yielding at the walk.  One time we got near the wall and I was frustrated why do I always end up putting Divine into the wall (it no longer has the fencing since Laurie removed all that after my accident, but there are still the posts that hold up the roofing).  We went around a few more times changing which way I leg yielded her down the center of the arena. 

We then turned right and headed to the wall.  This time my knee was right at that post, like it had gravitated to it!  I pulled my leg up a bit and reached my hand out to the post to brace...that's when Divine lurched to the right away from the wall and bolted (actually I'm told she only trotted but when you are unsteady and freaked out does it really mater?) off 20 feet with me flailing about trying to control any of my movements and failing terribly.  I ended up flying off the far side of the horse, the left stirrup lay across the saddle when I finally saw it again.  I hit the ground with a big grunt and then, I couldn't breathe. I have never had the wind knocked out of me before but it is a very scary thing.  You make such a horrible sound of grunting and groaning as you are trying to get your temporarily paralyzed diaphragm to work.  My eyes must have been wide as saucers as I stared at the ceiling and I vaguely remember seeing Laurie above me telling me to look at her. I'd hit my right hip, same one I'd fallen back in June but the shock of the fall hurt my whole pelvis since only three days before I'd fallen hard on the other side while falling from Storm.  I eventually came to and was able to breathe, my ribcage hurt my hips and pelvis hurt. 

 I started crying in frustration, why does this keep happening?  I was ready to give up completely and wished for the days of easy riding with Willy.  Divine has always been hard and my fears have become more apparent with her, almost to the point where I don't feel I can deal with those fears with Divine.  I'm so afraid of the speed and I tense up and she tenses up and goes faster.  We feed off each other in a very negative way and I feel like I've lost trust in her.  I am afraid to be afraid and then that just makes me more afraid and tense.  Of course from the horses side I'm sure she's lost trust in me too!  That's just the way it goes.

Can I find a horse that is laid back enough that when I tense it doesn't bother them as much as it does Divine and therefore allows me to more easily relax?  I only had one bad incidence with Willy, I was cantering in an open area and he just got too excited and started running.  My big fault was trying to grab his bridle therefore unseating myself.  I should have just stayed with the run and slowly alternated the reins.  Other times I've been tense and he has been fine.  Steve has even suggested me buying him but he's 22 years old and I'm not sure I want to go that old even though I love Willy.  Plus there are some training issues that I would rather not work on in an older horse, a younger one yes but of course I don't want to go too young either.  I just need to heal up right now....


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I understand your frustration. So sorry you've suffered so many falls in such a short period of time.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I've been there, my friend. It's not your fault. You definitely need a horse to ride that will build your confidence...not challenge it, like these past couple horses have done. You need a worth-it's-weight-in-gold, steady-eddy lesson horse that isn't so sensitive or naughty.

Hang in there and heal,

Braymere said...

I'm really sorry you've had so many bad experiences in such a short amount of time. That would challenge the confidence of any rider rider. Don't feel bad about being nervous. It would be weird if you weren't nervous!

Facing your fears is fine in theory, but at this point, I'd avoid Divine. She's not a good match for you, at least not now. You need a horse that isn't so reactive, one that slows down or stops when you get out of balance.

Take care of yourself and try to find a horse who will do the same. Good luck!

Mona Sterling said...

I'm so sorry you've had such a rough go. Look for the horse that gives you confidence. 22 is young, especially if it's an Arab. There's a 26 year old horse at my barn that is CLEANING UP on the dressage circuit AND jumping and is doing great! If I could go back and re-do my horse buying experience, I'd buy the quietest, dead broke-est horse available. It may have even been a QH instead of an Arab until I was ready to move up. Still, wait until the perfect horse comes along. I bought a horse who seemed super quiet and mellow and was told she had some time off. She turned out to be more horse than I had bargained for. I'm working it out, but it has meant a HUGE blow to my pocketbook with weekly lessons and months of full time training.

I would also recommend looking into other trainers who have quieter horses. When you're learning confidence again, you MUST have a non spooky horse or at least one that isn't so sensitive. If Tessa ever bolted and ran away with me (more than five strides down the long side), I would sell her. Your health, well being and confidence need a different horse and they ARE out there. Promise.

Christie said...

I do want to correct one thing apparently Divine only quickly trotted away when she "bolted". But You know when you are scared to death and practically unseated it doesn't matter. I've always had issues with Divine being a more sensitive horse, at least I know what I need to look for in my own horse! Thanks everyone!!