Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adventures on Horseback

My dreaded day last Friday was not as bad as I had anticipated. Jamie was only sick for a few hours in the morning, and had only the one incident, so there was no cleanup involved at all, and nobody else caught it. I consider all of those things miracles, and I am extremely grateful. We were able to go to my family's Thanksgiving celebration after all, and we even hit Mike's family's Thanksgiving on our way home that same day. All in all, it was a good long weekend, and ended with another trail ride on Maybelline on Monday.

Did I mention I have been riding Maybelline on the trail these last several weeks? Honestly, I have become addicted to riding her, and I often even dream about her because I am enjoying it so much. Our last ride, however, was a little more eventful than I like. We came across some water on the trail. One of us, whose name shall remain anonymous, decided we should go through the water. No big deal, and it would be good for the horses. For those of you who don't ride, or have very little horse experience, a lot of horses object to going through water on the trail, particularly when they are not used to doing so. Me being a chicken, I had no desire to push Maybelline through a potentially scary situation, though I have been getting braver in that respect. Pushing a horse into something that scares them can cause them to react, and a reaction was what I hoped to avoid. I didn't know what Maybelline would do, though I suspected she might put on the brakes, or go backwards, or even buck if I tried to force her in. But I confess, I also had my own personal reservations about entering the water. The black lab that was with us was up to his belly in the water, and I secretly suspected it was far deeper than we realized. However, I was not in the lead.

Our fearless leader forged ahead, and I followed closely behind. Maybelline was tentative, but willing, and she began stepping through the water at the edge of what I now call "the swamp". There was much splashing, and a terrible sucking sound as she pulled each hoof out of the deep mud under the water with each step we took. Within seconds, we were in well over her knees and I was getting scared. Every step was a huge effort, and her body was struggling quite violently to progress. By now, we all knew we were in trouble, but it was too late to turn back. Maybelline was in past her belly, and I had abandoned all hope of steering her, or directing her in any way. I gripped the saddle horn with both hands and hoped she wouldn't dump me in the swamp as she tried to thrust her body forward to get unstuck. After a while, I couldn't get her to move at all. My feet were in the water, and I was terrified we were going to sink in there, never to be seen again.

I was very close to the edge when my other sister (okay, I was with my two sisters, but I still won't name names!) called out that her horse was stuck. I turned around, and then I was really scared. She was riding the biggest of the three horses, and her horse was stuck indeed. She was up to her chest in the water and it was apparent by the angle of her body that at least one of her legs had buckled underneath her and she was partly laying down. My poor sister had to dismount in the water. Did I mention it was quite cold that day? I was wearing a winter jacket, and the sun stubbornly refused to shine.

After Maybelline had caught her breath and rested for a while, still stuck, I urged her on and was able to steer her out of the bog to safety on the other side. I was the only one out at that point. I was nearly in tears, thinking poor Phoenix was going to die in the muck. Has anyone seen the movie "The Neverending Story"? Well, if you haven't, there is a scene where a horse dies in a horrible swamp, and sinks right down into the water. That was all I could think about when I saw Phoenix, unmoving in the deep water.

Of course, Phoenix was not in this deep. More than half of her torso was out of the water, I think, but it was scary nonetheless. Maybelline was shaking, on the other side, and wanted to start walking away from that place. I let her a little, but didn't go too far. Before long, both of my sisters and their horses were safe on solid ground again. Phew! It was very dramatic and scary, though we did laugh about it quite a bit afterward. None of us were in mortal danger, but we felt bad for the poor horses. They all did very well though, and none of them panicked, even when they were badly stuck. 

It is looking like that was probably my last ride of the season, as the weather is turning, and my sister is too pregnant to realistically continue much longer anyway. It has been a great summer and fall for riding and horsing around, and I am kind of dreading the next several months of not riding at all. Next year, I will start much earlier, and hopefully will get in more time on the trails. We only did six trail rides this year, but we did a ton of ring work and ground work, and Maybelline and I have developed the beginning of a real partnership. I couldn't be happier about it! 

And now, I am going to try to enjoy a quiet evening by myself. Mike is out tonight. I am far from alone, with all four kids "sleeping" in their rooms (I really hope they are all sleeping by now) and even one cat and one dog in the house. I hope the evening and the night will be quiet ones, as there has been a lot of unrest lately. Lauren has a bad cold and got two molars last week, and the boys have all had nightmares, for some reason, so my sleeps have been pretty pathetic and I am feeling it very strongly. So I'm off to relax, hopefully. Bye for now.

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