Archive for October, 1996

PostHeaderIcon Sage- Trailride Starts New Fear

About two months after I was able to ride Sage without much fear, I was talked into going to Eminence.  Eminence is a place where you camp with your horse and ride out on trails. There are wild horses out in the farther reaches of the riding area which is the giant Mark Twain National Forest.

 Sage, husband and I went on the week long Eminence Trail ride–in the Ozarks Mountains with only 4000+ other horses. My husband is a social person, not a rider and I intended to ride only in the parking lot and campground. But NO, my good friend told me “No-you’re going on nice short daily trail rides. You can’t come to Eminence and not ride! After you ride a week at Eminence everything else will be easy!”!

Sage did great. She wasn’t scared of anything! She walked two inches beside clangorous diesel trucks. We rode around the campgrounds filled with horse eating things.

I was a nervous wreck the 1st morning and cried making certain no one could see that I was crying. I had tears streaming down my face, but my face was absolutely frozen in a noncommittal nothing. I went for 15 or 20 minutes at a time holding my breath…maybe less. Sage and I did lots of ground work to get me prepared for riding!

We crossed water; we climbed hills. I survived! I didn’t have fun, but it wasn’t torture either. Every morning when I got up, I wondered if I’d be dead or disabled by the time the day’s trail ride was over.

We participated in an evening horse show there with a record number 60 horses in the arena at the same time. Other horses bucked and riders flew off in the overly croweded arena.  Sage was great!

Thursday was the start of the year of fear. My friend erred in judgment and took me up and down a mountainous steep hill where the path consisted of rock ledges littered with loose rocks. Going up was frightening but the descent was beyond agony. I was frozen with fear going down. When I expressed some verbal dismay to my friend, she told me just to relax and lean back! HA! We did make it down alive, and even though I’m not a Catholic, I did the Cross Gesture! I couldn’t get off to kiss the ground because I couldn’t easily mount my horse.

We came to a river and two year old Sage was hot after climbing that horrid mountain. We were drinking and pawing to clear the dirt from the water and my friend yelled. However, I was intently watching Sage’s front leg sinking into a hole. It just seemed to sink down farther and farther. I was patiently waiting for her to pull her leg out of the hole when my friend’s frantic voice yelled “JUMP OFF!” This was a very loud and demanding voice! My body responded just when Sage sank down on her belly. I got up and waited for her to get up.

“Quicksand,” I was thinking when she didn’t get up. She’s caught in quicksand!” I was running in circles around her in the water around her trying to figure out how to get her out of the quicksand when my friend’s voice penetrated my brain again. “Slap her; Yell at her! She’s going to roll!” “Roll? I thought….not quicksand?” I yelled, jumped and flapped my wings and Sage heaved herself to her feet. I got the lecture about sweaty horses and pawing water!

At that time I couldn’t mount my horse without a big natural mounting block and none was available within sight. My friend had to get off her horse and put my muddy wet foot on her leg so that I could heave myself on. My jeans from knees down were sopping wet and 20 pounds heavier. We made it across the river and I started thinking about our water adventure when we came to the part of the trail that was deep warm sand. . . .

Without any warning, PLUNK!…down we went. It was a broken record. No slouch in the learning not-to-die-experience, I was smart enough to leap off as we were going down. I dove into the deep sand in my sopping wet jeans. Yummy! 100 more pounds packed on my body. I was saved by my friend’s husband who had come to join us. It took all his strength to get my weak, quivering, dead weight back on Sage. On the short distance home, including a wide river crossing, everyone rode very close to Sage ready to beat her if she even blinked a lay-down eye! I felt like a steer being herded by cowboy drovers!

After we got back and I had semi recovered, my friend’s husband took me aside and had a little talk with me. “I am really worried about you and your “little, slight fox trotter! If only you had purchased a blocky horse—not necessarily a quarter horse…I’m certain that there are blocky fox trotters that could handle your weight. Sage isn’t strong enough to handle you on these hills. If she would have tripped up there on those mountains and started to fall, she couldn’t have recovered. You need a blocky horse.”

Instant Bad Brain Image: I imagined that horrid ride down the loose rocky ledges, Sage and I falling; Sage with bones sticking up out of her. Sage dead of a broken neck. I love Sage. … THE BIG FEAR OF DOWNHILL HIT. I managed to contain the fear so no one else knew.

Sage, the 2 year old, wasn’t afraid of anything in that camp of 4000 horses! Susan, the 49 year old, turned into a battered shell with zero self confidence. I made up some excuse about not wanting to stay, and we left the next day.

I was able to ride Sage around my property because it is mostly flat. I was so proud of Sage that she wasn’t scared of anything in the world! This was the first of the major assumptions I have mistakenly made about Sage. This is when she started earning the nickname, “The Horse of No Assumptions”.  We were zipping by some bushes and heard a “tiny lion rattle sound”. Without my permission, Sage took her saddle and leaped ahead about 5 feet. I was like those cartoon characters that run off a cliff. “HUH…there’s only daylight underneath me,” and…thud. I met the unforgiving ground again! I had to lay there for a while waiting for the intense pain to go away. After my tremulous mass of flesh calmed down, I was able to determine that I was not broken.

I was too hurt to climb back on. Riding was only pretend after that. It was too cold, too late, too hot, I felt too bad. Winter came…no riding and I was grateful.

 Here’s what I was left with in my 1st Year with Horses:

DOWNHILL FEAR: If the ground were sloped enough so a golf ball would roll downhill, I was major scared.

RIDING DREAD (RD) That’s when all the excuses for not riding are made. It’s a disease called RD!

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