So I may have mentioned that the barn has a training track. I decided that today would be as good a day as any to see what Lucky would think about a turn round it. With the new bridle, bit, and reins I felt about as ready as ever to see how he listens. The barn sits on a corner of two rural roads, with the track at the far end of the property. You can see clear across the hay fields to the houses on the other side. Lucky, as usual, was more interested in the party going on at the house on the corner and all the cars parked there when we started going round to the right. In fact he dropped to a walk even when asked for a jog, and it took a few taps to get his mind on me. Figuring that between the warm weather and the distraction I was going to be working for ‘forward’ again.
Then I turned him around to the left at the top of the stretch.
Ho. Lee. CRAP.
First we got the biggest trot ever. Whoever called these ‘jogs’ really needs to try riding a nice western peanut pusher for comparison. For once I didn’t even have to ask. Then I actually put my heels on. I have heard it called ‘falling into’ a gallop, and that’s exactly what he did. It wasn’t really the huge kick, either, just moving all of a sudden. He was still cantering, on the right lead going left, and I took up rein and pushed my hands down.
A t my 4-H graduation we grads were allowed to take a ‘victory gallop’ of the arena (galloping usually being a big no-no at Fair.) After my turn, with that year’s other two “graduates”, one of my fellow club members told me one of the moms asked her “Is that as fast as Benny [my OTTB] can go?” My fellow 4-Her, knowing better, said “That’s as fast as Jennifer is letting him go.” This was not as fast as Lucky can go. This was as fast as I was asking him to go. And at this point, even though I know, I really know, that we aren’t in fact going THAT fast, I am simultaneously thinking “Come on quarter pole come on quarter pole” as my legs, in jeans, are starting to ache from holding on, and “WHEEEEEE.” A little more pull gives me a little more speed.
The brakes work, counterintuitive as it is to those of us who started out riding riding horses. He bounced a bit turning around, but loose reins and my sitting really did work. I walked him back across the “infield” (actually part of the hay field) and back up to the barn. Two minutes after galloping a quarter he let me close the field gate from his back with plenty of maneuvering around like turns on the forehand. Back in the ring, some forward trotting and circles, and three attempts at a left lead (third time’s the charm) and finally we hopped over a 9″ “jump” a couple times both ways. He still weaves a bit coming in, as if he’s not entirely sure, but no refusals, no run-outs, and even with some hard rubs no rails. After that a long buckle-walk to cool out.
Then I took him back in the barn and I keeled over.
So, heat. Funny thing. Even when it’s not that hot per se, if it’s humid, it’s hot. Lucky, at most, seemed mildly puzzled that I was on the ground, and he very kindly let me pull myself up by his neck. I managed to get his bridle off and his halter on, so he was standing tied instead of with the reins dangling, but at that point unbuckling the girth was more than I felt up to. Instead I made it to the barn door, in view of the house, and managed to call for help. The B.O., her daughter K. (previously mentioned) and another daughter arrived. K. got Lucky untacked and sponged down while the B.O. sent her grandsons for the golf cart as walking to the house was really outside the realm of possibility at this point. J. brought ice and I got put on the couch, boots off, with water, ice, and damp cloths. It’s always helpful, I will say, to have a B.O. who is a nurse–having a blood pressure cuff and knowing how to use it is a handy thing. My bp was good (100/80 for the curious, which is a touch low for me but not worrisomely so) though my pulse was racing. I got to lie in the A.C. sipping lots of water until my face was no longer red and everyone was satisfied that I was not going to keel over. Hours and a meal later I do feel better, though it did set off a migraine that an aspirin is only mildly touching. So PSA, kids: even if the horse feels okay, if you don’t, get off. Drink water. Go inside.