Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bolt

Can you guess?

I met N at the barn and we got the horses tacked up. We trucked over to the indoor arena and lunged. Ashke was stiff and a tad bit sore in the right hind. Diane may be right. He may just short stride for the rest of his life. He gets better as he gets warm and it's been cold this week. All I can do is continue to ride and work and see what happens. He lunged for a bit in each direction and for the first time in a long time, he didn't cross canter at all. He let me know when he was warm and ready to be ridden, so I walked him over and swung on.

He walked off before I was seated. We stopped, backed up and I swung off. We walked back over and this time I told him to "Stand". He did until I was in the saddle, rewarded him with a pat on the neck and a good boy, then asked him to walk on. He did. We walked in both directions a couple of circuits around the arena. I turned him to the right and asked him to trot. It took two turns before he relaxed, dropped his head and moved into a frame. We did a couple of transitions and then I realized out of the corner of my eye that N had asked Cali to canter.

I had a moment of insanity. That's the only explanation. I had a fleeting thought that I hadn't worked Ashke enough to canter yet (he was feeling fresh), but did I stop? Oh, hell no, I asked him for a canter. He moved into a canter, but on the incorrect lead. I slowed him, repositioned him and asked again. This time he picked up the canter on the correct lead. He saw Cali cantering in front of him and started to pick up speed.

Did I mention there were seven horses and Cassandra giving a lesson in the indoor arena?

Ashke could see Cali cantering in front of him and started to gallop. In the indoor. With a ton of other horses. I started to ask him verbally to slow down. N heard me and asked Cassandra if she should stop. She did, expecting Ashke to slow down and stop when he passed her. I was holding on with my left hand and trying to stop Ashke with my right. He blew past her like she wasn't even there and paid zero attention to my ask. A quarter turn around the arena and he was still ignoring me.

I was pissed. I said to him, "ok, you Mother Fucker! You want to run, run!" I booted him hard in the sides with both heels.

He bucked and then bolted.

Everyone moved away from the rail and into the center of the arena. And then watched us run around the outside of the arena at a gait just short of a dead run. Cassandra started talking to me, trying to coach me into easing him down. About the fifth time we went around the arena I was beginning to despair of him ever stopping. He is an Arabian and bred for endurance. Could he run for an hour? Riding him to the right is tough and I was wondering how much longer I could stay on, if I would just go limp and slip off. You have been to the circus, right? Have you ever seen the monkey perched on top of the dog going hell-bent-for-leather? That's what I felt like. Monkey me.

On circuit six, he finally pulled to a stop. I just sat there and gasped for breath, feeling the sweat pour off of me, shaking, with tears leaking from my eyes. The adrenaline made me feel sick. N walked Cali over to me, talking softly and I'm not even sure what she said. All I could focus on was the sight of my hands resting on Ashke's withers.

I finally caught my breath and turned him to the left. We did walk-trot transitions for ten minutes. Ten steps walk. Ten steps trot. In a frame. Then N cantered in front of me and Ashke cantered behind. On lead. Under control. To the left for four circuits. Cali stopped after one and a half, but I kept Ashke going. This time he came back to a trot, in a frame and under control. Then I stopped him and we turned to the center of the arena. We sat and watched Margaret ride one of the Friesans she shows, marveling at his flexion and his collected canter.

I told N I wanted to ride to the right one more time before I finished. I let everyone know that I was going to try a canter again. Everyone moved off the rail and I took Ashke out. I listened to what Cassandra had told me and locked the outside rein in my left hand while holding the front of the saddle. I asked Ashke to slow and listen to the inside rein. He did for a couple of steps. This time, when I asked after two circuits, he moved back down into a collected trot and then a walk. I was very pleased and we were done. Ashke got lots of praise.

Cassandra told me later she really wanted to holler, "Yeehaw!" when I booted him into a run. N told me she was thinking of moving Cali to the rail to block Ashke. They both suggested that next time I try a one rein stop, but when I've tried that on the trail, I've run into issues with him feeling unsteady on his feet and there were nine horses in the arena at the time that I didn't want to have to worry about. One of them was on a lunge line. It could have been really messy. He can turn so quick that I worry I could pull himself off balance and go down. I'd rather not have another horse fall with me.

On a good note, Cassandra said that I didn't look out of control or scared. It never looked like I was unsteady on him or ready to come off. N also told me that she wouldn't have kept riding Cali if something like that had happened to her - she would have gotten off for at least a little bit. I didn't even consider it. However, I was really sick walking back to the barn. Adrenaline can do that to a person. Good news was, I didn't throw up.

14 comments:

  1. I did that with Carlos when he was 5, always trying to run away so I took him out on the hills and ran and ran and ran him, unfortunately I tired before he did. damn.

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    1. I wish we had a track here, so I could do that in a big circle.

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  2. Whoa that's scary. I'm glad you're both ok. At least you got to do it: let him run himself out when bolting. Hopefully he won't try it again after this!

    I agree with you on the one-rein stop: when they're running at breakneck speed like that, attempting a one-rein stop is the best way to make the horse fall! You can try doing a very hard half halt - jerk back on the reins HARD once (you can do this one-handed) - to get him off the forehand and then attempt a one-rein stop. Or do what I learned to do when riding crazy non-braking horses over fences when I did the jumpers: grab mane with one hand, and with the other pull the horse into a circle. They HAVE to slow down to circle, and it changes their focus.

    Good for you for ending such an upsetting ride on such a good note!

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    1. I would have tried to circle had we been alone. Unfortunately, it really wasn't an option. And currently, Ashke doesn't have any mane to grab. I wish I could have let him run himself out, but I was pretty wiped. Trying the hard jerk back doesn't really work, partly because my bit is so soft and partly because he tips his jaw up and evades, still running.

      On Weds, we are doing the lunge line lesson where I get to canter while on the lunge line. I am really hoping it will help me figure out how to get in sync so I'm not fighting to keep my seat or find a rhythm. J is coming with me so there will be photos.

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    2. Ha! Smart boy @ evading while still running. You could still do the mane trick by using the pommel of the saddle instead to ground yourself and stabilize one rein while asking for the circle with your other hand and the other rein. And of course, I only meant that if this ever happens again in an area where there's more room/there's not a million people in the arena. Hopefully it never does happen again and you never need to try it!

      Will look forward to the post on the lunge line session! :)

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    3. *ask for a LARGE circle, adding to my comment above and referring to your response to Liz below. But in the end, you go with your gut instinct based on what is happening in the moment! I owned another horse that would spook and bolt, and you couldn't do anything other than see-saw on the reins to try to get him to stop. He was so unbalanced that any kind of circle when he was at a mad gallop would have made him fall. You do what you can given the circumstances. You did a great job!! Just trying to give you more options to try in case you ever need them. :) I sincerely hope that you never need them at all!

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  3. Wow good job! I'm impressed that you kept calm (probably would have scared me, especially with the buck lol) and stayed on and worked through it. :) I also don't like that sick feeling you get after an adrenaline rush. I'm glad you didn't throw up. You guys must have a full sized indoor arena... I keep trying to envision nine horses in the one at the stable where my friends board and I just can't imagine it lol. Also I didn't know someone at your barn showed Friesians! Can we see pictures please? You know I'm a Friesian addict. :D

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    1. Let's see, we have two full Friesans who show saddleseat. We have a Friesan/TWH (JAzz), a Friesan/Paint mix (Cali), a full Friesan who shows dressage (Cassini), a Friesan/Hanoverian mix (Wesley) who shows dressage, and a Friesan/Warmblood mix (Dino) who is a rescue. I will get some pics and share them with you.

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    2. Oh wow!! I'm totally moving to your barn lol. :D I look forward to the pictures!

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    3. achieve1dream, you do know that my neighbors run a Friesian sporthorse breeding program, yes? And they have (well HAD, they cut him last month) a Friesian stallion? Who I've ridden. And they have two babies right now? A ½ Friesian and a 3/4 Friesian (I LOVE this one). And at least 3 of their mares (two ½ Friesian, 1 spotted draft) were bred to the stallion before he was cut. Yep. Friesian mania all around me. Haha.

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    4. You're kidding?? I am so JEALOUS LOL!

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  4. Oh gawd Ashke. What the hell, dude.

    Isn't it funny how in those scary moments when all you're thinking about is how badly it could go people will always remark about how calm, cool, collected, and together you looked? When in your head its always, "OooohshitohshitohSHITohshitohshit. Hangonhangonhangonhangon. Don'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdie." Mind over body? Or body over mind? I guess the latter for you this time! Wish we had a video ;-)

    Were J or T there? Would it freak them out to watch you bolt around like that you think?

    And I'm totally with you & Saiph on the one-rein stop, good way to tumble. ESPECIALLY on these damn ArabX who are so freaking agile. Love the agility. HATE the agility. But mostly love.

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    1. I'm not sure J or T would have known what was happening, just because they don't know horses. Obviously, N and Cassandra knew, because I had talked to them, ad nauseum, about his bolting issue (it's even scarier on the trail, because he launches himself over the yucca and tall weeds and we don't jump). Everyone else in the arena saw what was happening and was horse-savvy enough to get to the center of the arena. My overwhelming thought was "are we EVER going to STOP?" I didn't think he could throw me, this saddle folds up around my hips like a lover - I swear I could joust in the thing - but I was beginning to worry about falling out from pure exhaustion.

      I honestly didn't seriously consider trying to turn him on one rein. I didn't even consider trying to make a smaller circle. Honestly, I didn't have that much control, since I was holding on with my left hand (he gets so darn rough to the right) and trying to turn him when his head is in the air and he's not focused on what is going on is a recipe for rolling, in my book.

      At least I didn't see my life flash before my eyes, which I have had happen before, so my back brain must have been thinking, "we have this" even while my front brain was screaming like a little girl.

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    2. "this saddle folds up around my hips like a lover "

      oh god. i'm losing it.

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