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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

HOM: Bob Addenda

I had some other experiences (lessons?) from the horses on that trip. I guess I'll put them in here, better late then never. I've mentioned not being comfortable with height . . . Randa had a couple of habits that bothered me. The minor one was loving to shove past trees so closely she'd almost scrape my leg out of the stirrup. I solved that one by bracing my hand on the tree as she came up to it and shoving her sideways away from it. After a few tries, she gave in on that one. The worse trait was her hatred of walking IN a trail -- she'd rather balance on the berm along the edge of it. This was all right on level ground, but she did the same thing in places where, if I could spit, the glob would land dozens of feet down. In those spots, with her, I couldn't spit -- my mouth was too dry and everything was too puckered because of my allergy. The "High Places" allergy. There is a swinging suspension bridge over the river near the abandoned Black Bear Air Strip. The trail from the south approaches the river at right angles, and then makes a 90 degree left turn just as it crests the high bank, goes down at a slant along the bank, then makes a 90 degree right turn onto the bridge, which is set high above the water to survive the spring floods. I'd been having trouble with my back on this trip, and shortly before we got to the bridge we had taken a break in the sun to let the horses graze. When we were ready to go, I had a heck of a time even getting to my feet. My back HURT. Jim took the lead on Randa and when we got to the bridge site she followed the trail over the bank, negotiated the turn, went down the diagonal portion on the sidehill, and then went onto the bridge, no problem. Gurly didn't. She didn't want to go over the crest onto the diagonal, and once she was on it and saw the bridge ahead decided she was NOT going any further: She was going to turn around and go back. Bad move. Narrow trail, high steep bank, fat rider. She went off the trail backwards with me aboard. I piled off, landed behind her, looked up and saw her coming down on top of me and rolled out of the way. With me off, she was able to catch herself, dig in and scramble back up on to the trail. I THINK Jim was yelling at me to catch her, anyway I went scrambling up the bank after her, caught her up on top, yanked her around and LED her down the trail and over the bridge. I was too mad, or scared, or freaked out, or full of adrenaline, whatever, to back down to her. I figgered she was going over that bridge if it killed both of us in the attempt, and shooting her and dragging her carcass over seemed like a fine idea to me. Smart horse. She cooperated after a very short argument and followed me down and across. I remounted when I got over by Jim, and he asked me if I was okay. I think he'd asked me that before but I wasn't able to answer questions. I guess I wasn't okay. I think I was crying. That was the worst scare of my life, a nightmare come true, going over a dropoff on a horse. Yeah, I'd really had nightmares about it. Wake-up-in-the-night wide eyed and gasping nightmares of a horse teetering over a dropoff with me stuck in the saddle. Two things came out of that episode. The first was that I was kind of numb to heights after that while we were riding. BTDT, lived through it, bring it on. The second was that my back was fine afterward. I guess the landing, twisting and rolling I did realigned whatever was out of place. I'd rather go to a chiropractor. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)