Today, being the 5th of Sept marks the first time I have ever been dumped on my butt by Trax.
It started with a simple ride on my day off, which was going wonderfully. We had nice soft canters, and wonderful flex at the jaw, and smooth side passes, and I thought, "Heck this ride is going to be a dream!" I even had my camera on the tripod to record some of the awesomeness.
But alas, it was not to be.
About the time I decided to do the rope gate from the right side, my trusty steed had a major relapse.
He suddenly became terrified of the rope again.
We rode up next to it and he was fidgety. I should have just stopped there and rested. But no, I ignored the signs and reached down and picked up the rope. I rubbed him with it and he flinched and stepped away. I moved him back towards it and we attempted to walk through the gate. He started scootching sideways. I rubbed him with the rope again and it got caught up under the stirrup flap. I reached down to unlodge said rope and Trax did a side ways butt scoot across the ring.
I felt myself falling, and begged him to stop but it was too late, I was already air born which caused him to jump even further. I landed right on my butt (right cheek to be exact) and felt my spine jar up through the top of my skull.
My crazy paint horse calmly trotted to the other side of the arena and watched me sit there on the ground.
While I caught my breath and tried to figure out if I could get up without getting a ton of goat head stickers in my hands, he then trotted over to the back of the arena where Killian and Sassy were watching with great delight.
While I cursed all three of them for laughing at me, I slowly managed to get up with only 3 stickers stuck in my hand.
I calmly made my way across the arena, saying nice soothing words to my horse so that he didn't run. He had no intention of running though, He just wanted me to walk further to "Work the kinks out"
I rubbed my horse and calmly told him that he was not done, and we obviously had some work to do.
Then we went and got the roping rope out of the track room. No I did not beat him with it, although I'm sure that is what he was expecting. At least that is how he acted. He was white eyed and prancy, flinching each time the rope touched him. I was petting him....I swear.
I put the lasso around a log and dallied my horn and we dragged the log. I was smart enough to remain on the ground for this part, as he jumped every time the rope touched his butt. We did this until he no longer jumped, his eyes were no longer white, and his breathing was normal again. Then I got back on him.
We did some loping circles, some trotting, some side passing, and then went back to the gate. He executed it perfectly from the left. So we side passed over some poles and then went back and approached it from the right. He was really bothered by it for some reason. So we went back to the beginning. We rested next to the gate.
Then we rode away.
A few minutes later we went back and tried again. This time we got as far as picking up the rope and hanging it back up again. Each time I would rub him with the rope and each time he would flinch like I was going to beat him with it. I have never peat him with anything, much less a rope. I kept talking to him, letting my air out to encourage him to let his out as well.
Finally after about 10 tries we executed the rope gate from the right with out a flinch or a scoot. It was perfect.
No I did not get any of it on film. I totally forgot the camera was even there.
As I was working I found myself thinking about Michael Johnson and Shine. He and I have emailed back and forth a few times. He told me that for horses like Trax, even though they learn to trust again, they always carry that fear with them. It will resurface when we least expect it, and we have to know what the warning signs are are watch for them constantly.
If we see that our horse is relapsing in fear, we have to take them back to place when they weren't afraid and start again. That was my goal today, and when we got past it, the second we got past it, I jumped off and loosened his cinch.
I'm pretty sore, have a pretty good head ache, and dread having to be on my feet all day tomorrow. But I have a sense of accomplishment which out weighs the negative. I learned what his warning signs are, I helped him work through his fear and I saw the exact moment to end on a positive. All in all it was still a good ride. Even if I did get dumped on my Arse.