Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'm Not As Good As I Once Was

I'm currently standing halfway between my kitchen and my living room with a glass of wine in one hand and three lidocaine patches on my back. I'm stuck here, because I can't make it any further until either the lidocaine or the wine kicks in. How did I end up stuck here? Well, that's the story....

I got tossed yesterday. Tossed right off a horse. Launched through the air like a crash test dummy. It wasn't any of those "crazy" Thoroughbreds, either. It was that damned little pony. 

The pony my kid rides bareback with no problems.

Spots has been a model citizen for pretty much everything we have ever asked of him, but yesterday he was just not feeling it. He was balking and spooking while we groomed and tacked him up, and I knew I couldn't let my daughter ride him. But, I also didn't want to let him learn he could act like that and get out of work. 

So, I got on him. It was all good for a little bit. He was still balking and spooking, but I used circles and transitions to keep him steady. Then he decided he'd really had enough and went full bronc on me. The thing about those little guys is that they can buck and twist like nobody's business.

I made my 8 seconds and then some, but eventually he launched me. I made a good landing, just like I've always been taught. I tucked and rolled right back up onto my feet and caught the little bastard, and then the adrenalin wore off and I realized I'd tweaked my back something fierce. That's the thing about having a bad back, it's always a bad back and one wrong move can set it off. Especially wrong moves like being bucked off a sulky little pony. 

I knew I had to get back on, but I couldn't. I wasn't angry or scared, I just couldn't physically lift my left leg higher than a few inches without sending searing pain through my sciatic nerve. I made a heroic (and probably somewhat comical) effort, but I just couldn't heave myself back up there. So, I sent my daughter back to the tack room for the lunge line. If I couldn't ride him, I'd at least lunge the snot out of him. He had to do something so that he knew he couldn't just toss me.

That didn't go so well either. I couldn't manage to shuffle around well enough to be anything close to effective at lunging him. At this point it all hit me, the feeling of being old and broken and useless, and I burst into big, fat, self-pitying tears. I stood in the middle of the arena and sobbed like an idiot for I don't even know how long. It was long enough and pathetic enough that even the pony felt bad for me and came over to put his head my shoulder. I believe he was trying to tell me, "Geez, lady, get it together." 

Eventually I got it together, got him untacked and put him away. I may not have been able to work the snot out of him like I wanted to, but I figure having to stand in the arena with a sobbing lunatic was probably punishment enough for him. 

When I got back in the house I texted my trainer to tell him what a broken old failure I was. He responded with, "No you're not. Every fall is a lesson. What did you learn?"

I replied, "I learned I'm not 20 anymore and next time the pony is acting uncharacteristically  assholish don't get on."

His response: "That you are not 20 is old news. The second is the lesson."

I hate it when he's right about things like that. In my mind I'm still the 20-something bulldog who could ride the nastiest, rankest horses in the barn and laugh, but I suppose it's getting about time that I grew up. My back certainly thinks so.

For what it's worth, I'm not actually injured from the fall, no bruises or sprains, not even any sore muscles or tender spots. It's just that when you have chronic back problems anything can set it off. Yesterday it was falling off a pony, but some days it's been something as mundane as going up the stairs too fast or leaning over to get a spoon out of the dishwasher. I'll be fine in a day or two and ready to get back in the saddle, walk up the stairs, and retrieve my own spoons.

As far as what set the pony off, I'm sure the internet is frothing out the mouth to tell me that he has EPM, magnesium deficiency, chronic depression, a saddle that doesn't fit, rotten teeth, terrible feet, bad training, rabies, alien probes and/or some combination of all those things, but since this is one single incident in an entire year, I'm going to chalk it up to just having a bad day. I have bad days, you have bad days, and our horses are allowed to have bad days, too. If it continues, then we'll have him worked up and checked for alien probes. I can also assure you that next time he's having a bad day, I will just lunge him.


(I'm not renowned for making great decisions.)


  1. I feel your pain - not literally, but I also have one of those 'bad' backs! Totally agree that all ponies have cranky days, just as their humans do :)

  2. It was in the air yesterday, I'm sure. My horse was vile in the most passive-aggressive way possible and spooking at absolutely nothing -- actually, he spooked at the arena gate which is, as we know, every horse's favourite thing EVER. No EPM no deficiencies (except perhaps oxygen to the brain), just clearly some kind of generalized airborne horse-brain poison!!

  3. Bad days happen. Sorry this one hit you so hard.

    And hey, in a couple years when Jack is having a bad day, you'll just chuck your kick ass daughter up there and she'll warm him up for you. ;-)

    1. She actually just got home from school and announced, "After my homework we're going to get Spots out and work with him, because he just can't act like that." I think I'll get out another lidocaine patch....

  4. Tucker decided the radio (the one that is on every time we ride) was actually transmitting signals from demons, and spooked every single damn time we went past it yesterday... I was chalking it up to Spring fever but perhaps you're right, a magnesium deficiency/epm/rotten teeth/moon blindness might be the actual cause. LOL. Glad you had wine on hand. You are not the only one who has had a pony reduce her to tears, btw. You definitely taught him his naughty pony lesson. Love the image of him coming over to you, like, "wow I was only kidding lady, sorry."

    1. I'm pretty sure every rider in the history of riding has had a pony reduce them to tears. That is what ponies are for!

  5. aw what a bummer.... those ponies really know how to buck (and i'm actually pretty positive that they save their worst for when a serious rider is on their back...). hope you are feeling back to 100% soon!

    also - i love your daughter's attitude!

  6. Hey, get out of my head! ;) Your trainer speaks wisely. I tell all my work technicians to not pass 30 & do not collect $200. Physically demanding job, physically demanding hobby, bad genetics, bad my grandmother said, aging is not for wusses!

    Solo's not little, but that horse can spin as fast or fast than any short-backed little thing I've ever sat on; it did make me feel a little better when he nearly put a Silver medalist in eventing on the ground, although I would have been very guilty if he had (ok, it might have been funny as long as no one got hurt).

    But I digress. It is a hard lesson, but over the past few years, the medical bills have made it abundantly clear that if I want to KEEP getting on the horse, I'd better work smarter, not harder. Thankfully, 36 is old enough to have already established my "yeah, I can carry heavy shit all day" street cred in and out of work, so I no longer let shame stop me from letting someone else stack those 60 bales of hay. I need those back injections to last as long as possible!

    Glad you are not seriously injured, but I completely understand & empathize with the unreasonable intensity of back pain & those horrid spasms where you can't breathe! Get some rest & hugs from us!!

  7. Ahh - the inverse relationship between size of an equine and the ability to put a rider in her place...

    Hope you recover quickly!

  8. Ouch! Ponies can be the worst. I'm sorry about your back, but glad it wasn't worse. I hear you about not being 20 any more, though I'm still technically in my 20's. I just don't bounce like I used to. I came off a month ago and my shoulder still hurts, and it wasn't even a bad fall! And I agree, horses do have bad days once in a while.

  9. Sorry about the back, but at least this is a good story. The bad back days that suck are the ones where people ask what happened and your only explanation is you twisted in a seat to talk to someone. Yup the wild life of us old and crippled lol.

    Pony just sounds like a pony random eject buttons are a built in standard feature.

  10. It is one of the truths of the equestrian world that some days the horse just doesn't want to cooperate. So sorry you and Spot had one of those days. Hoping you heal up soon.

    Learning myself that age and infirmities do make me think twice about my riding. We just don't bounce either in the saddle or out of it the way we used to.

    Sending good vibes.

  11. "That you are not 20 is old news. The second is the lesson."
    Funny & wise - Trainer's a keeper.
    LOVE that your little daughter figured out her pony-needs-a-reminder game plan all on her own! She has all the makings of a "20-something bulldog who could ride the nastiest, rankest horses in the barn and laugh" :-)

  12. It took me a long time to learn your lesson! Although, I *Finally* had this moment of brilliance earlier in the week. My horse told me he had too much energy and I listened. It was like the clouds parted and Angels started singing, haha

  13. Love your trainer's comment - sorry you fell though!


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