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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Not Stop, Drop and Roll...But....

When I worked for the cutting horse trainer I mentioned in (I'll Show You How It's Done), I was still pretty wild and young.  After I had finally gotten to the point he trusted me to ride colts, I learned quite a lot.  As I said, most of it was of the “what not to do variety”, but I did learn a lot.

Once someone brought this big sorrel colt, he was pretty strong and could buck a little, but he actually turned into a pretty nice colt.  At the beginning, he was just a little twitchy.  I guess he was a little scared of what I was going do to him, and I didn’t have sense enough to see the danger signs or even offer him anything different.  Usually after about a week of riding in a pen, we started taking the 2YRO’s out into the pastures to ride.  This at times was a little western, especially with this particular colt! 

One winter day, I took him out and stepped aboard right inside the gate.  As I swung up, he started to run off…no problem.  I finished getting on and started pulling him into a circle (now I would call this a one rein stop), but the problem was we were right on top of a hay spot (we had been haying there all winter, so it was a little slick).  As we spun around, I felt Sorrelly start to slip.  I knew I had to get off, but I chose the wrong side to get off on!  Next thing I know Sorrelly is lying on top of my leg, struggling to get up and I was encouraging him to get up because I couldn’t see any value in him lying on me! 

All of the sudden, he was up….but I still had a foot in the stirrup!   Of course, with me dragging alongside him, it scared him to death.  So, luckily for me, he turned around and started backing away as fast as he could!  If he had just started running, I would have been in a real jam and probably hurt badly.  But, since he chose to just back away it gave me a chance.

Now all my life my Dad has said, “If you ever get hung up in a stirrup, roll over on your belly and start kicking.  It will get you loose!”   That statement came into my head like a neon sign!  I immediately started kicking and lo and behold, I came loose!  Thank you, Dad! 

You would think a persons next thoughts would be to take stock and see if they had any injuries.  Nope….not me.  All I could think about was that I was riding a stud colt in the mare pasture and he was now loose!   There I am on my knees trying to catch a horse that wanted no part of this strange new 4 legged creature scrambling toward him!  The faster I moved toward him, the faster he backed away!  I felt like I crawled halfway across that pasture!  I eventually caught him and then realized there was something wrong with my leg.  One of the Mexican guys that worked there came running out of the barn and I kept trying to tell him to go get the foreman, but he kept trying to take the horse.  At the time I didn’t remember any of the little bit of Spanish I knew and he knew very little English, so we were not communicating very well.

Ben finally came out and pulled my boot off and said, “I don’t know about you, but my foot doesn’t do that!”  There’s an understatement if there ever was one.  So we loaded up and headed to the emergency room, always a lot of fun!  Now the emergency room in Gainesville Texas isn’t that big and the doctor didn’t look any older than me…so I had my doubts.  The first thing they wanted to do was cut my pants off….oh no…there will be none of that!   I only had 3 pair and there was no way he was doing that!  So Ben came in and helped pull them off of me, bet those doctors and nurses thought I was crazy!  I was then x-rayed, and my foot looked like shattered glass.  They put me in a splint and told me to keep my foot elevated.  How the heck am I going to ride like that, I thought?  Little did I know that the pain killers they gave me would put me in la-la land!  I had no problem lying down after that.

Jim, the owner, came in the next day and asked me if I would have any trouble telling when a horse was going to fall after that.  He was a sensitive guy, wasn’t he?  It was probably a good thing I was still loopy from the meds, I might have made a smart alecky comment if not!

I guess if there is a lesson to be learned, it’s this:

If you have a horse going down with you, always get off away from the ground.  AND, listen to your Dad.  It may not be as catchy as “stop, drop and roll”, but it turns out “roll over on you belly and start kicking” can be just as big a life saver!

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