Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bucking a Trend

One of my pet peeves (If I wrote a post for each of my pet peeves, I'd have a lot of posts.) is when someone says, "My horse threw me.". Trying very hard not to be one of those annoying nit-picking people, I don't say anything at the time (usually), but I always wonder if the rider was actually thrown, or whether she fell off. There is a difference.

In being thrown, the horse purposefully tries to get rid of his rider. That horse wants you gone, baby, gone and will perform strategic, gymnastic exercises to do so. This could be bucking, rearing, leaping, spinning, kicking, ducking, and running under low tree branches (in which case you should have been the one ducking) among other creative attempts. Some horses will try harder than others, some horses don't have to try very hard. Something you did irritated that horse enough that he is all done with manners and patience. Or it could be that your horse is fresh and feisty and not ready to settle down and work.

If you fall off, you were not thrown. You can not blame your horse for your own Humpty-Dumptyness. Even if your horse did something he shouldn't have, you still can't say you were thrown, unless he was really trying to toss you.

Being thrown is pre-meditated. Falling off is accidental.

Regardless of their motives, or lack of, horses will react in one of two ways when they lose a rider. Some will stand there and wait to see what happens next. Others will take the opportunity to practice doing their fanciest trots or galloping. There are horses that will throw you, on purpose, with intent, and then stand there quietly after succeeding. There are also horses like Image, whom I fell off of recently, that will, after parting company, take the opportunity to play Wild Stallions with the geldings over the fence and prove how fast he can go from one end of the ring to the other.

There is a gray area at that moment when the fate of the rider is in the horse's hands (hooves?). Whether it is a fall or a toss, sometimes the rider ends up in limbo either on the horse's neck or hanging precariously off of one side of the saddle. Again, there are two ways a horse can respond to this situation. I prefer the ones that will stand there and let a rider scramble, claw, and wiggle her way back into the middle of the saddle to the ones that take run backwards, drop or shake their heads or scuttle sideways. That is called an assisted fall.

Considering the times that I have hit the ground, it's usually been a fall. The times when a horse tries to get rid of me, are the times that I can stay on the best because I am prepared. As in the fall off Image, the times that I have gone air-borne are usually when I was not expecting a change in direction.

Then of course, there is a Category 3 fall, when everybody goes down. This is when the rider falls, but only because the horse fell too. It doesn't happen often. For me, it's been 4 times in 12 and a half years, and all for different reasons. A horse is much better at keeping his balance than say a motorcycle, but with the added effort and weight of a rider, sometimes a horse will miscalculate. You'd have a bit of trouble too if you had to run the hurdles wearing a backpack full of gravel to the tune of 20% of your body weight. Try dancing Swan Lake, in the sand, with that backpack on. Just attempt to chase down a cow carrying it too, while you're at it. Then you may have an idea of how it is possible for a horse to fall with a rider.

Now that you are aware of the difference between falling and being thrown, be sure to use the terms correctly. Let no more horses be falsely blamed for a rider's incompetence or lack of dexterity. No longer will horses be cast in a negative light when they are innocent of any shenanigans. On the other hand, if your horse does toss you, then he darn-well better not be expecting any carrots back at the barn.

No comments:

Post a Comment