I think my biggest fear since I started riding again was the fear of Ashke falling. My second biggest fear has been coming off of him in some form or other. That fear, of being thrown and hurting myself, was faced in June of 2012, when I came off and hit flat on my back hard. I ended up in the emergency room with a CAT scan and bruising that kept me on the ground for at least three weeks. The fear of Ashke slipping and falling has stayed with me though. I had two falls in my childhood, one which left me with 35 stitches in my face, a severely sprained left ankle and damage to my L5 vertebrae. The second left me bruised and battered, with a strained neck and scrapped face. Not something I really wanted to through at this point.
Yesterday, it happened.
We had decided to take T out to the barn and have him run in Van Bibber Park, while J rode her bike and I took Ashke out. We had partly clear skies and temps in the upper 50's, so it was perfect for all concerned. It also gave T a new place to run, which is at least half the battle. We knew it would be wet, but I don't think we expected it to be as bad as it was. We got to the barn and I booted Ashke. The front boots are fitting very nicely since his trim, but the back boots are loose. This has been a factor since starting him in the boots. He is too small for 0.5 and the 00 size rubs his heel bulbs, so I'm not sure what I am going to do. I got him saddled and we headed out.
I had told T that we might struggle to keep up with him, since he runs at 6 to 7 mph pace and Ashke and I struggle to maintain a 4.6 mph pace. We played leap frog for the first mile, until there was a safe place to canter and then we caught up. At the end of the trail, near the soccer fields (which were packed) we stopped for a breather before turning around. There is a nicely groomed area with short grass and great footing were Ashke and I have cantered before. He was game so we started our canter. I was looking down to the inside shoulder, asking for bend around my inside leg, when his back foot slipped.
I blame the boots.
He slid down onto his left side. I slid off onto the grass.
I didn't hang up nor did he land on me. J said his hind end fishtailed and he went down. He scrabbled to his feet quicker than I did, and I missed grabbing the reins. I said his name, which is usually enough to get him to calm down, but his left hind boot had slid off his foot and was still wrapped around his fetlock. He spooked at his own left leg and headed back. J and T threw their arms up trying to distract him, while I shouted out to grab his reins. I knew he would stop if they could grab the reins. J said afterwards she had no idea what to do and T said he didn't want to get ran over. Ashke ran around them and was about to head for home.
During this incident there was an old man, probably in his upper 80's with a cane, standing next to the sidewalk at the edge of the fence. The fence came down on both sides of the sidewalk so it made a natural gate of sorts. I was hobbling after Ashke, panic rising as I thought of him tearing for home with that one boot still hooked to his fetlock wondering how in the hell I was going to catch him, when the old man reached out and grabbed Ashke's rein.
Ashke stopped and stood still.
Thank all the gods for the kindness of strangers.
I thanked him profusely as I hurried to take my horse from T, who the old man had handed the reins to. We pulled the back boots and I checked Ashke for any injury. He was fine. I walked him around a bit, then swung back up. He felt even better without the hind boots than he had with them. We headed back to the barn.
We rode 4.75 miles, with the extra loop I threw in with Ashke. He was tucked away none the worse for wear.
I, however, landed on my left boob and severely bruised it. My neck and shoulders are sore. My groin muscle on the right is stretched. This morning I ache, but a hot shower and some ibuprophen should help.