Monday, July 22, 2013

Dead Broke doesn't mean Dead

One of the things I like to caution people who start horse back riding is that even if you have a 'dead' broke horse, it doesn't mean that horse [or mule] will never spook or do something stupid.

You need to put hours and hours in the saddle.  You need to find your balance and reaction time.  You have to react to things in a split second when they happen.  A horse or mule can have a reaction time nearly 100 times faster than a human can.

Case in point.  Today I rode Opal.  She is 28ish years old.  She has been in parades, in shows, on hound dog trials, she has done barrel racing, and all sorts of cattle events.  She has god knows how many miles and hours of riding under her belt.  She didn't spook a couple of weeks ago when hen turkeys flew up nearly in her face.
In short, she is a broke animal.  A 'been there done that' kind of animal. 

We rode without incident solo ... to the berries where I picked and picked.  She was happy to graze while I did the work.  

On our way home we headed back up the field road.  Next to this track in the grass grows field corn.  This was the easy trail.  I saw her head pop up and tense.  Next thing I knew we were doing a half airborne 180 degree turn and she was off to the races.

I said whoa, and drew a rein to steer her left away from the fence hidden in the brush.  All I saw and heard was the thunder of a deer startled in the corn and the ass end of the thing as it bounded over the fence and was gone.  This all out of my periphial vision.

I never thought about what I was doing.  After close to 25 years of constant riding it becomes second nature to stop a runaway or a spook. 
Nice thing is we didn't spill any of the berries I had in the bucket.  That was my big concern!

Opal eyed the field corn as if it were full of hatchet wielding deer that were going to cut her heart out.  She kept an eye on the corn as we traveled back towards home.
These things happen.  It is in the nature of equine to spook at times.  A bit less for mules as they are part donkey.  But this doe blasted out of the corn 2 ft in front of us. 

The berries made it home safely and I discovered that Opal is a very good berry picking partner.  We may have to go back to the old logging road and pick and walk together.

This morning was a wonderful peaceful time.  In the woods and on the nob with Opal.  Just her and me.  You know, I never even think of that world outside when I am with an animal...riding or hiking.  It is like reality is here and now and all that outside stuff.
Is just stuff.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right Val! Even the most broke or 'bombproof' can go when they are inspired. I thank my lucky stars that I can react automatically like you, I would hate to have to learn all that over again. Experience makes for safer riding that's for sure. Glad you and Opal got home safe and enjoyed your berry picking.