I know I don't bounce any more. I've known for quite a while that I don't bounce.
I miss being able to bounce. When you bounce, you can be fearless. Since I've realized that I don't bounce so well any more, I've gotten quite a bit more cautious and, well, to be perfectly honest, a little chicken shit.
I guess I need to be reminded every once in a while that I don't bounce. Seems to be the nature of the "biz" (horses). And it always seems to happen just as I'm getting my back bone back after the last "I don't bounce" experience.
I really have no one to blame but myself. It was avoidable. I should have been smart and spoken up and just said "NO", but I didn't. And I got a refresher course on just how much I really don't bounce.
I hit the dirt last night.
I hit the dirt hard.
It's been quite a while since I actually hit the dirt. I've been bucked off a few times, but have managed to not actually hit the dirt one way or another. One time I landed on a rather springy bush that just sort of floated me over the ground. One time I ended up on Midori's neck, though the saddle horn and my tailbone are not friends after that one. I've been trying to think of when the last time I really actually hit the dirt was. It's been a while. There was the time that she took off bucking when I was half way on, but I don't really count that since I wasn't technically "mounted". Plus that was gravel. I think the last time I really hit the dirt was when I was starting Fancy. I think. I could be wrong, seems like I've been dumped since then, but it could be that I've just avoided actually "hitting the dirt" every time since then.
Anyways, back to last night...it was a dark and stormy night...oh wait, no it wasn't. It was partly cloudy, but a little windy and cold. That should have been my first hint. I know weather affects horse's attitudes. I hadn't been on Midori since Sunday. She was an angel that night and we worked pretty hard. It was also sunny and upper 70's.
We were headed to the arena to work the new buffalo. I was anxious to work because we have our first cutting show of the season on Saturday and we haven't done much cutting work since the end of last season, which was September.
I was really cranky headed there and all business with my horse, just focusing on getting on, getting work done, getting home. I was looking forward to riding and being on my horse, I needed the therapy for sure, but I was more focused on getting ready for the show and not really paying attention to my attitude or Midori's. Strike 1.
I got tacked up and walked in the arena and over to the buffalo pen to say hi to everyone and see what the new buff's were looking like. The one in was sort of being a pill, not wanting to work along the wall, but was relatively quiet. As I was sitting there chatting about the upcoming show, my name was called. I was up for a turn. I wanted to argue, I hadn't warmed up, I needed to go lope a bit, but then I thought about the show on Saturday and wanted that turn! I wanted to work that buff because I needed the practice! So I went in without warming up. Strike 2.
Midori was hesitant, jittery, spooky and snorty. She walked into the pen alright, but about jumped out of her skin the first time the buff turned to look at us. I was still cranky and thinking, cowgirl up, let's get'r done! We're going to work this buff whether you like it or not! We got one turn in with the buff on the wall. It turned back towards the corner and then charged, trying to get by us on the wall. I dug my spurs in, telling Midori to get her ass over to the wall and stop that buff! Strike 3. I was out.
I don't even know what happened. I blinked and the next thing I remember, we were facing the opposite direction and I was looking at the ground with the rest of my body following. I remember seeing Midori's front SMB boots and her nose between them and then my hands headed for the sand right next to them and thinking please don't step on me! But that's it. I have no idea how we got turned around facing that direction. I don't remember thinking, oh, she's going to bucking, I didn't have time to register anything. I hardly had time to register that I was falling off before I hit the ground. I just plain got bucked the fuck off. Excuse my french, but that's what happened.
I landed pretty much face first, then my shoulder and chest took most of the impact. I got the wind knocked out of me. I thought I had sand papered the whole side of my face off. By the time I got my eyes open, Midori had bucked to the other side of the pen, hit the panels turning around, taking a chunk out of my saddle and was on her way back my direction, still a bronc. Part of me went oh sh**, I need to get up so I don't get run over! Then my lungs said, oh no you don't! I made it to a sitting position before I realized that I really couldn't breathe. I'm not really sure what happened after that because all I could think about was that I couldn't breathe. And I had a mouth FULL of sand. Ugh. I heard someone say grab her (Midori), then I heard someone yell for the boyfriend (he was off being smart and warming his horse up!) and he came over and asked if I was ok. I said ya, I think so, just trying to get my wind back. Then I asked if my face was bleeding. He said no, nothing yet. Then he told me to get up.
Me: 'Scuse me?
The boyfriend: Get up! You need to get up.
Me: Ummm...no. No I really don't need to get up.
The boyfriend: You really need to get up. Get up! You need to stand up!
Me: Ummm...NO. This sand is damn comfy. I really need to lay here. A nap right here would be fabulous actually. You sure my face isn't bleeding? Oh, and I got my dinner. Though I don't recommend sand. It's not all that tasty.
The boyfriend: Ya, you're funny. Now get up. If you still can't catch your breath, stand up and put your arms straight up over your head.
Me: Say wha?!? Um, no. I am catching my breath just fine laying here on the comfy-cozy soft sand thank you very much.
I'm not sure if the arms over your head thing is for reals or not, I know my old boss used to tell me to do that when I had the hiccups or something, but it was just to yank my chain and make us both laugh. I did eventually sit up though. It took me a good long time sitting there to pick enough sand out of my eyes, nose and mouth that I felt like I could actually breathe and see. The boyfriend nagging me to get up the whole time. While I was sitting there I looked over to see where the animals were. One of the other riders was holding Midori outside of the pen and the buffalo was standing about half way across the pen staring at me. I swear it looked like she felt bad about the whole situation. I think I like buffalo.
So I got my reminder that I don't bounce. All things considered, I was pretty darn lucky. Other then a few pretty good bumps and bruises on my legs, some scrapes on my hand, half of my face looking rather nicely exfoliated (though no bleeding or scabs, I think my baseball cap bill folding over my face saved me) and some seriously sore muscles, I'm fine. Oh, and I broke a nail. I know...tragic.
The most frustrating part of all of this is now I'm feeling timid on Midori with cows. I'll always have that fear in the back of my head when cow charges and instead of beating feet to get where I need to be, I'm afraid I'll hesitate out of fear for just that split second that will make the difference between a good run and a lost cow.
I got back on her after I had brushed myself off. I was definately stiff and sore already and my guts were pretty shook up and still trying to get settled again, but we loped. A lot. I'm sure some of my soreness today is from all the loping we did. After a while I was out of breath so we stopped to air up and watch the buff's for a bit. The boyfriend was trying in vain to work one that absolutely would not move. She was slow and just refused. I asked to have a turn with her before they swapped her out because I thought she would be a good confidence builder for us. We went in and just quietly walked around for a bit and inched closer and closer. At first I just drove the buff around a bit, making her move away from us. After she got moving we tried to do a little boxing, but as soon as I moved away from her hip (driving) to her head she would stop and turn and just stand there. So we'd drive some more. A couple times she turned around and looked at us and I made Midori just stand there quietly. Not sure if that is bad for cutting or not, but I felt that Midori needed it for her confidence. After she stood quietly for a bit, I would put Midori back on the hip or shoulder and make her push that buff around some more. A couple times the buff tried running around the side of us, in that same corner, which was a total heart stopping moment for me, but Midori only skittered a little bit and this buff was a lot more timid then the other one and would just stop.
That buff did her job. I think she was good for us after what had happened. I felt better and a little more confident with Midori, but I'm still interested to see how the show goes this weekend. We loped a whole bunch more, until I was exhausted from having to push her so hard to keep going because she was totally dragging and then went back over to the buff pen to watch some more. Midori was still jumpy when the buff would come running to the side we were standing on, but I made her work the buff a bit thru the fence, with the other rider in the pen and she did alright.
I'm entered in the Green/Green class on Saturday, which is not out of the herd. They kick one cow out for you to box. They are also rerun cows, so a bit calmer in theory. I am also signed up for a practice run which is out of the herd. That will be the first time we've ever come out of the herd, so it should be interesting. I'm just sort of dreading the whole thing now. I'm picturing me getting a runner and Midori freaking out and taking off bucking and leaving me in the dirt, again, in front of all those people. And the judge. Ugh.
My goal for the show tomorrow is to not hit the dirt. How sad is that?!? I'm going to a horse show with the goal of not hitting the dirt. Wow.
Wish me luck!