Shhhhhh! Be very, very quiet. I don’t want my husband to know…how many times the horse bucked me today. Or about my face plant in the dirt during a canter. Or the emergency dismount I performed while cantering. (Hmmmm, I’ve detected a pattern. No wonder I’ve had a fear of cantering, dope slap.)

How many times have you kept these little mishaps a secret? I have to confess that I’ve shared every one. I had to. I’ve had witnesses that would’ve squealed like pigs. Besides to think at my age I did that and got back on. To think I wrestled the fear inside me and cantered again. To think…I must be crazy! HELLO.

One of those moments. I had been riding for about six months. It was a really nice warm day in February. We were riding outside for the first time in months. I was on an OTTB and the neighbor was clearing brush.

We started out trotting around the ring, daintily side-stepping the puddles. (Why do geldings think they can’t get wet?) Man rustles some brush. Small hiccup spook from TB. OK, that wasn’t bad.

Next time around TB takes off on me. Cantering circles around the ring! CANTERING! Did I mention I don’t know how to canter?!

My instructor is very calm and says “Sit down into it and half halt!” Half Halt? What’s that? I haven’t learned HALF HALT!

By this time we’ve past my instructor. The parents are standing there with their jaws on the ground. We start another pass toward the spectators. Getting closer to them and the fence.

I scream my instructor’s name as we canter past and she steps out in hopes of slowing the TB down. Not happening. He sped up! (Note to self: Screaming and/or yelling doesn’t help. Horse will go faster because YOU scared him.)

We rounded the corner again. I sat briefly into the motion and thought comfy. (What am I? Crazy?) Then I noticed the fence. We’re closer then last time and I tensed.

My instructor says “Shorten your reins!” Reins? What reins? We canter pass them and I lose my inside stirrup.

My mind rushes through scenarios:

  1. try to stay on and crash into fence
  2. stay on and jump fence
  3. JUMP OFF NOW!

In case it’s not clear I chose #3 and ended up sailing through the air! I landed on my back in the mud with my legs up in the air. Touch down! I was covered in mud. I mean covered. Helmet, hands, back, legs. No way to hide this from my family.

My instructor approached and applauded me for my successful emergency dismount. Emergency dismount? What’s that?

In the meantime the TB had made his way back to me. He was carrying his head very low and looked totally ashamed. Good!

I drove home and was exiting the Jeep when my son appeared at my side. He stopped suddenly, stared, then pointed his finger at me and said, “You fell!”

I replied, “No, I jumped. Big difference.”

I was given a copy of the video the following week. My family and friends were glued to the TV. My husband decided that it wasn’t as bad as he had imagined. We all laughed during the “touch down” portion. (Hey, it was football season.) They even stopped the tape and played it backward in slow motion and then fast forward. Again and again.

I wonder where that tape is? I could use a good laugh.

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