We all have our days. Kat is no exception. I just wish he could have either waited a bit longer (a LOT longer) or had his not so glorious moment sooner (A LOT sooner). Like while we were still in long lines and he had not been hooked yet....
He was doing so well, coming along so nicely and had really showed promise. Last weekend we went to the horse park and he did Awesome. Handled everything well enough, new place, new environment, other horses around, still had to work. He whinnied a lot, but fine, whatever. That I could deal with.
The show was yesterday. We didn't go. Hubby and I did, but Kat stayed home. See, it all went wrong, something like this...
Saturday morning we went to the horse park. Figured we would get in another workout there on what would be the showgrounds. There were two other trailers in the parking lot when we arrived and a few horses in the public use arena. Last weekend was kind of the same. As we went in to work, the one horse in the arena left. As we finished up, other horses had arrived and were ready to go in. We had the arena all to ourselves for his workout.
This time add in a few horses. He needed this in case there are ever other horses in his class. Some day there will be so he had better get used to it now. This worked for the other people too as their horses were, in their opinions needing to be exposed to new stuff. A pony pulling a cart around was certainly something new for them. Win-win.
Well it all started like any other workout. I lunged him, we put the bridle on, this time I opted for the long lines instead of the driving lines. Again I worked him, walking behind the cart, just to get him going and to be sure there was no funny business. Satisfied, I stopped him and climbed in the cart. I picked up the whip and we walked off.
As we were putting him to the cart, I told the other riders, I am NOT hoping for ANY excitement today. Not for them or me. We certainly don't need it and I am confident in saying we are all a bit too old for that kind of crap. They agreed.
We started with our circles and softening exercises. The two riders were following us and said to let them know if they got too close. No problem. As we came around through the center of the arena I turned my head and said over my shoulder that we would be going to the right now. They thanked me for letting them know. No excitement remember? Open communication is good for this!
The right has not been his better side. He is a bit more stiff, a little more resistant and the right turn was where we had issue at home the one day making the corner. In another evening workout, he had been bothered going to the right past the neighbors oleander because there were birds in it. At one point heading towards the fence and asking for the right turn, he had stopped. I asked him to move on and turn right. He balked. I asked him to move forward again and he ever so slightly reared. Left turn- fine, but we circled around and were soon going the intended direction anyways. Stop and redirect, no big deal. Avoid the accidents at all costs when you can.
Saturday however, turned out to be a lot different. We made the turn to the right and it started off fine. He picked up the trot, no biggie, go ahead. In fact I took a slight hold and pushed him forward into it a bit more. That's when it happened. Something set him off and he blew. In a BIG way! Now understand, this all went down in a few seconds or maybe even a minute or two. Takes a lot longer to type about it or read it than it did for everything to happen.
We had made the corner and he stopped, the cart was still going forward and bumped into him as he reared, then leaped forward. He headed for the gate along the length of the arena. I was just trying to keep him off the fence as best as I could. There was a person standing by the gate, inside the arena and he came mighty damn close to them as we went by. I'm pretty sure it was not an ideal situation for them either.
When we got just past the gate- he fell. Took a not so graceful nose dive into the dirt. That was the first time I said "Oh SHIT!" He went down, the cart shifted forward and stopped, I fell forward into the basket on my knees. NOTE- Knees and diamond mesh steel are NOT friends! (Think cheese grater effects.) As he scrambled to his feet I realized my right boot and ankle were wedged in behind the basket and the shocks under the seat. All I could think was that if the cart flipped my leg was as good as broken. Definitely not a position I wanted to be in.
I focused on getting my leg (and essentially me) free. Once that was accomplished I got back up and on the seat. Now I had to try and regain control and get him stopped. He was still rearing and leaping up and forward, add in some bucking and the cart was lurching and jerking forward and back.
We made the turn around the corner and he was still going to town. Probably about then is when I yelled at Kat. "Is that all you've got?" WTH was I thinking? Hubby said he heard me loud and clear...
I can also remember thinking- If I were ON him, I would use one rein, really shorten it up and pull him around hard. Throw him off balance enough that he has to stop and get his feet back on the ground for a minute or fall. Horses don't like to fall down so they will stop. I pulled the right rein and tried to bring his nose around. Problem is, when you are driving, those pesky shafts kind of get in the way for this. The horse literally cannot bend... so down he went again. Scrambling to his feet and pissed, he reared and leaped into the air again.
This time as he went up, his head was down and his front feet were literally over his head as he arched in the air before bucking again. That's when the second "Oh SHIT!" came out of my mouth. His chest, the girth area was eye level with me sitting in the cart! He was that far up in the air.
We had made the corner and were heading down the far side of the arena at this point. Kat finally stopped but I wasn't about to let him think he had won. Hubby yelled to me to stop. He was in the arena headed towards us when I bellowed in my loud, angry voice "Trot On, Dammit!" Kat must have thought I was pissed. He trotted all right! We got several strides of an incredibly strong trot that I have not gotten before. It was amazing. When I said whoa, he stopped and froze.
Hubby had said again, "Stop." This time he added four simple words. "Your girth is broken." I looked down and sure enough it was hanging off his right side. That was my cue to get out of the cart. By then he was next to the cart on Kat's left side and starting to undo everything. He asked me if I was okay because about then? The adrenaline rush had hit and I was shaking. "Yeah, I'm fine!" He told me to go stand by Kat's head. instead I seen him start to undo the breeching so I started to unbuckle the right side, unhooked the traces and we slid the shafts out of the tugs.
Everyone was suddenly buzzing around. A few of the people there told me I handled everything really well. I really hadn't been in any position to DO anything. Just keep him away from anything, anyone and hope for the best. I don't even remember ever telling him Whoa! Then I got to thinking about someone else's male 'trainer' acquaintance screaming like a girl. Who has time to do that?
As we went out the gate to take the harness off of Kat, there in the dirt was the remnants of the left billet strap. Somehow we had managed to do all of that with no girth. The only thing keeping the saddle in place was the loose overcheck from the front, the crupper from the back and the weight of the shafts in the tugs.
We figured right there, the show was out of the question. We didn't have a harness to use anyways. Since it was still early in the day though... we headed into town and bought the leather to replace the billets on both sides. I wanted to get him put to the cart again, muy pronto and working so he didn't think that was the way out of it.
Through all of this, I not only mananged to keep the whip in my hand the whole time, I also never even thought to use it on him. Not even to tap his butt and push him forward. Who knows how he would have reacted if I had.
Seriously? I wish hubby had been able to video the whole thing. It definitely would have been one for YouTube!
*blogger has been screwy lately and edited my post for me. Thanks, but no thanks.*