I watched Sedona’s brightly colored figure dance across the alfalfa fields towards home, fully saddled and bridled, without me. The lyrics to the songs”Ready to Run”, and “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” flooded my brain.
I kicked my boot into the dust and just had to shake my head in disappointment at the scenario. She’d dumped me. I landed on my shoulder, rolled and jumped back up. There was an odd pain in my hip where I’d landed that I was reminded of with each step, but I shook it off, I’d check it out later. My cheek hurt, my lip felt busted up. I dusted off my jeans and kept an eye on the spooked horse.
I went back through the scenario in my head. There had been a strange crackling noise near the grill outside of one of the neighbor’s houses along my little trail ride behind the house. Sedona lost what I call her “zen” as we rode by; she lost her head. When she is “zen”, she is calm and paying attention, supple in the mouth and confidently moving forward. Relaxed. As soon as she loses her temper, be it in a lesson, training, or simple, boring repetition, she loses that zen.
The noise had come from behind a large tree, setting Sedona’s nerves on end. She snorted by the house, her front end elevated into a prance and her neck and shoulders coiled tightly, wound as tight as a snake ready to strike. The sun was going down quickly and the temperature was dropping.
I decided it best to turn her around to head home just after passing the house. I was losing my daylight. She was still tense, looking for an excuse. Just passed the crackling noise, Hank, my dog, turned back towards us after having run up ahead. He ran full speed back towards me and Sedona. Sedona had had it. As soon as she heard Hank’s paws up on the dirt road behind her, her head dropped down and her body shot up into the air.
She let out a twisted side kick in mid air, with her back arched she bucked step after step towards home.
Now when a horse is bucking you can’t really tell how high they are bucking. I do know that I’ve sat some good bucks in my life, and I don’t fall off very often. She bucked me back and forth, jerking my body to and fro in sudden jolting movements. When a horse is bucking, you also lose track of time. You forget about everything else around you, adrenaline sets in and your body turns all attention to the suddenly dangerous creature beneath you.
It was at least a good half-acre’s length of bucking before I decided she just might not be giving it up. I was gonna lose this one. With my feet lose in the stirrups, and at a safe sandy spot where I knew I’d be launched where I could partially control my land and not caught up in my saddle, I hit the dirt. Either I was landing on my terms or on her terms, and I chose mine. I must have landed on the side of my shoulder because just after, my cheekbone hit the sand before I rolled and jumped back up; out of the way of the bucking horse who bucked a few more strides and ran. I had to search out my cell phone that had gone flying in the launch and sunglasses, and stomped around the sand, cursing a little, before walking home.
Behind me I noticed a small car pull out of the driveway from the house where Sedona had spooked and tore down the dirt road over towards the house. He pulled right into the backyard drive-way and went to go grab Sedona, arriving to grab her just as I arrived.
“Well you must have seen that! Didn’t you?” I asked the man.
“All I heard was some a big commotion near the canal and then saw that horse running across the fields.”
“You missed the buck-fest before she ran then I guess.”
“You were on her?” The man asked. I was curious how else he thought she might have gotten lose, fully bridled and saddled.
He handed me a rein, she’d ripped the other brand new rein in her little stunt. I should have known not to use my new split reins.
She was dripping sweat, her eyes large and wild. Her veins popped out across her neck and her belly heaved in and out quickly. The sun had set, and my disappointment in the little mare who had been doing so well sat heavily on my chest as I led her back into the round pen. She was a hot mess. The little outing was supposed to be a bit of a reward for her having ridden so well earlier in the day.
I ran her in circles in that round pen until she dropped her head and started paying attention to me again, she found her zen again trotting in circles. Her neck loosened up, followed by her lips as she settled into a comfortable little trot.
Now almost in complete dark, I could see her ears started to flick back towards me, her head tilted inwards as she asked to come back to me. I allowed it, and she walked towards me. I pat her on the neck and grabbed a chunk of mane while I swung my leg back over her. I climbed back into that saddle and rode around in the dark until she cooled off. We ended on a positive note, and started fresh again the next time.