WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #22
It was a Friday to remember, for a lesson in remembering if
your horse is hyper one day.
Goldie is a mare and some mares can have difficult days. I've
worked with mares that do not have any difficult days, and are
the same nature day in and day out. Goldie has lots of "get up
and go" as we might say, then a few times a year she is very
hyper or "let's go for it, speed and speed and more speed is what
I'm wanting," I think she says to herself. Today was one of those
I knew it from the word go. So I decided to take her up top of
a certain range - some good climbing and a great view at the
top. I decided to make my way up along the south fence line,
which I had not done for a year or two. It started out okay, but
I soon found myself with no-where to go, trees down and just not
at all navigable. Even Goldie knew it was impassable, as she
stopped as if to say to me, "What are we supposed to do now, you
chump, what kind of way is this to the top!"
We had no choice but to double back and find the trail we
both knew was just fine to take us to the top, for our special
view. At the top it was clear to see that 99 per cent of the snow
had gone from off the Canadian Rockies. We had had a lot of rain
in the last month, to be expected I guess as June is the rainiest
month of the year in this area. Looking down on the valley
below, north and south for miles, everything was a lush green.
We headed down the usual way I take. Once on the flat at the
bottom I let Goldie move into a canter, and I knew once again it
was one of those few days in the year that she is exceptionally
I should have known better, I made a silly and careless
move. There is a 150 yard flat road trail, mostly grown in now
with grass, near the barn.
"Okay girl, I know you want to gallop."
I turned Goldie around so we would be running away from the
barn, and let her loose. She was in high gear in the second
stride. 150 yards was way to short a distance. I had a difficult
time in stopping her, but I finally did. We started back towards
the barn, when we got to the beginning of the 150 yard road
track, Goldie just wanted to turn around and do it all again. She
was hopping and wanting to turn and run again, if I would let
her. Well we were at logger-heads her and I. She did a half-rear
and twisted her back end to the right, which came in contact with
the rise of the embankment, which in turn slipped her right back
leg from under her, and down on the right side of her back hip
she went. I was not holding on to the saddle horn and just came
floating off and out of the back of the saddle on to the
embankment. Nothing hurt but my ego and lack of wisdom on riding
a hyper horse. Oh, where was Goldie, well not like a good pal
staying at my side, we were too close to the barn .... she was
off at a gallop to the barn and where she knew her buddies were.
I was left to walk to the barn to find her, fortunately for me
the barn was only about 100 yards away.
This lesson I learned the hard way, no injury, not even a
bruise, but it was a lesson nevertheless. I acted foolishly, made
a wrong decision. I should never have let my extra hyper horse
have a run. Yes, it is what she wanted, but you as the
controller, must hold that hyper horse in. Goldie was under
control until I let her hyper-activity loose, then once fired up
the burner was red hot. I should have done no more with her than
what we were doing. I should have known better as this is not the
first time in the four years I've had her, that she has had a few
hyper days. I can blame no one but myself.
The first lesson you can take from my bad error is: know
your horse, when you know your horse, ride to not allow it to
have its freedom of mood, maybe do not ride it at all that day
(obviously you will ride it to ascertain its mood; Goldie was
fine, just like all days before I ride her, her hyper-ness was
undetectable before riding her). "Geldings" are the common
popular horse for most riders - they seldom have "mood" swings
like as do some mares.
The second lesson is: people who do enough riding will at
some time find themselves off the horse and on the ground. As one
expert and Olympic gold medalist "show jumping" guy once said,
"If you never come off a horse it means you do very little
riding." There is a point - a line so to speak - when you know
you are not going to stay on the back of your horse; you know you
have gone passed the point of no return, and you are going to be
on the ground. You have to be big enough to admit in your mind,
in that split second, you are going on the ground; you have to be
willing to eat humble pie, no matter who may see it all happen.
Then when you've admitted you've gone over the point of no
return, you can try to move yourself into a fall that will do the
least damage to your body. This somewhat of a skill, is what too
many riders do not have. It is the split second admittance you
are going on the ground, and it is the other split second ability
to fall into your fall, if you understand what I mean. I took
"judo" lessons as a young teenager, and that taught me how to
fall from different angles in ways to do the least damage to
Today, I think the Lord was having some mercy on me, as it
was not so much a fall but a slide out of the back of the saddle,
as Goldie's right hip was down on the embankment, so it was not a
fall as such - a slide out of the back of the saddle onto the
grassy embankment. But I have had other falls where I had to move
my body to give me the best landing possible.
It was a day of eating humble pie for me, and a time of the
Lord showing mercy. For many hours after all this I was "beating-
myself-up" over it all. I was careless, did not use good horse
sense, in handling my horse per her bodily chemistry on this
particular day. The "boys" running the ranch have made their
mistakes in the recent past as I've recorded, but today it was my
mistake and for horse people everywhere, I've recorded it.
To be a horse person who handles and rides them, is not like
having a pet rabbit. They are bigger than us, they are stronger
than us, and most horses, can do things at times, unintentional
or intentional (i.e. stepping on your foot or a buck, a jump to
the right or left when spooked etc.) and so we need to be on our
mental and physical toes as they say, when working with horses.
The equestrian sport can be a dangerous sport to take up,
relatively compared to say the sport of golfing. So we equestrian
people try to be alert in our love of the sport of horsemanship,
but the true fact is we are still human, and humans are not
perfect. We need to thank the Lord that often His mercy is upon
us, and we can still walk away with just bruises and scratches
and no more.
I was thankful today for the mercy of our God, for my lack
of wisdom and that my landing on the ground was soft and
I look forward to working with my horse once more on the
Sunday coming, and I'll sure try to use more wisdom.
To be continued