How to Fall Off a Horse

Get on a horse.  Rather difficult to fall off of one otherwise.  Pretty much a no-brainer.  My chiropractor (bless his heart) warned me that I would eventually fall – I hate it when he’s right.  However, this particular ride was “free” in that I earned it by serving as a side-walker for a therapeutic riding program.  I wasn’t about to miss out on this chance.

BarneyGet on a horse called Barney.  What could happen on a horse named after Fred Flinstone’s neighbor and a purple dinosaur?  And by “horse” I mean pony.  When the trainer asked if I wanted to ride Barney, I asked if he could handle me.  Maybe Barney heard me and had a point to make.

Get on a horse you think you know but have only seen being led by one person with two other people walking on either side of him in said therapeutic riding class.  By assuming I knew Barney, he made an ass out of… well he dropped me on it.

Barney Before the Fall

Before the fall. See that swish of the tail of the horse the youngster rode in front of me just egging me on?

Forget that the fifteen year old who makes posting at a trot on the horse in front of you look so easy has probably been taking lessons since she started walking.  And she’s fifteen.  Although I’d been on a handful of trail rides, at that point I’d had three (3) lessons.  Three.

Forget to ask (or at least tell) the trainer that you want to try trotting Barney.  If I’d told her, I have no doubt she would have asked someone to lead him for me.  Turns out I’m not the first person Barney’s taken over a jump without so much as a kiss my foot or have an apple.

Forget to notice where you are in the ring in relationship to the jumps that were left set up for some reason.  The jumps were taken down after my mishap but I still should have practiced more situational awareness.  Who am I kidding—I wasn’t practicing awareness at all.

Forget to steer when the horse breaks into a canter and heads for a jump.  Instead, I pulled back on the very reins that I had just moments before remarked were having little effect on getting Barney to walk at the rail.  I thought of pulling his head to the left for a nano second, but got an image of both of us toppling over the jump sideways.  In my defense, there really was no time to do anything but hang on.

Barney at restForget to grab hold of the ample mane of the Haflinger named Barney that you are riding.  Since most of my trail rides and 100 percent of my three (3) lessons were on Western saddles, I suspect that I may have air-grabbed the non-existent saddle horn on the English saddle on Barney’s back.

Forget to keep your eyes open.  After I looked down (practically guaranteeing that I’d fall off) to see his front hooves leave the ground, I have no visual memory of what happened next.  After I accepted my fate as going over a jump that I had no idea how to handle, I fell off.  Therefore, I must have closed my eyes.

Forget to stay on.  I suspect I may have actually bailed.  I’m told Barney had cleared the jump and taken two strides before I fell.

And there you have it.  Since I’m in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” phase of horsemanship training, there are no doubt at least ten other mistakes I made that fateful day.  I’ve taken the above “lessons learned” to heart and have decided to become a natural horseman (and no, that is not a politically incorrect term, it means a human who understands horses to the point that said human becomes a horse/human or horseman.)

Gratitude fills my heart as I can report no permanent injuries, although the bruising to my “sittin’ parts” was as vast as it was colorful. I eventually acquiesced to taking a prescription anti-inflammatory to help heal the connective tissue strain between several ribs that took close to two months to stop giving me painful reminders of that day.

A special shout-out to the trainer, her assistant, and other volunteers who helped me to my feet, fetched me water, and put me back on Barney that day.  With someone holding his bridle, I even trotted him down the long side of the ring.  Twice.  My goal this year:  gain confidence at the trot and canter and then take a jump.  Or two.  On purpose.  On a horse. Maybe even with Barney.  Stay tuned.

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It’s Time.

Last January the most devoted follower of this blog lost his private battle with depression. He provided, besides an ever-encouraging sounding board to my musings, a “buddy bench” for me and so many others who found themselves alone on the playground.

Last year I allowed the void his absence created to swallow up my words. A New Year’s Day bout with a stomach virus put my plans to start afresh this year off a few more days.

This article just came across my path as a gentle reminder of my dear reader’s legacy.

Enough now. It’s time.

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To Ride a Horse

TabascoSo.  Since the last time we visited I have taken steps toward fulfilling a preteen dream of spending a great deal of time around horses.  To that end, I have taken three (count them – 3) lessons from a self-proclaimed cowboy on a “Tennessee Walker and something” named Desert, volunteered for a therapeutic riding program, and most recently spent the day at a colleague’s mini-farm learning the very basics of natural horsemanship from two of her five magnificent geldings.

Why horses, you ask?  Well, if you have to ask, then move on because there’s nothing more for you to see here. 

Still here?  Maybe you’d like to be convinced?

My first answer:  I have no idea either.  I have been mesmerized by horses for as long as I can remember, although I successfully suppressed said obsession (might as well call a spade a spade) for decades.  Blame Mr. Ed or My Friend Flicka or Black Beauty or Bonanza.

My next answer:  Horses = beauty, grace, strength, passion, danger, power, agility, intelligence, freedom, exhilaration, surprise, acceptance, intuition, sensitivity, majesty, splendor . . .

My best answer:  recently when I considered what I would spend my time doing if all of my needs and the needs of my loved ones were met and I could do anything I wanted, the answer that bubbled up from under layers of denial and deprecation:  “I want to ride my horse.”

What horse?  Ah, there’s the rub.

So stay tuned for more updates on my adventures with horses that “belong” to someone else but because of their nature can become “mine”, if they so choose, for the moment.

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Having abstained from Facebook for Lent (only three days to go!), this graphic shows that I’ve missed 277,000 log ins and 6 million views. Per minute.


Just One Minute…

My three year old son is great for the phrase “just one more minute” when he’s trying to buy a little extra time playing with his trains or trying to avoid bedtime.  It’s amazing how that minute can seem like an eternity to a toddler, but nothing at all to us.  Just how much can really happen in a minute though?  Today’s infographic from Intel takes some recent data and re-examines just how much happens on the Internet every 60 seconds. [VIA]

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Please vote for a chance of a lifetime (and it’s not even for me)!

Vote for me
This cool lady is “this close” to winning the trip of her biggest, baddest, bucket list adventure.  How awesome is that?  Check it out and vote in as many ways as you possibly can!

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Mars and Venus in Retrospect

One of the first boys who liked me that I liked back (an elusive juxtaposition “my whole life” until the ripe old age of 14) came into my life during a trip up the steps of the Washington Monument.  There were two guys and two girls on this expedition – my friend Betsy, who was the object of affection of O.V., the boy I actually had a crush on, the erstwhile Ed and me.  On the way to the monument we witnessed a horde of motorbike cops headed to what was most likely a Vietnam War protest in another part of the city.  I noticed that Ed was upset and angered by this display on the part of the “man” – did I mention this was the late ‘60’s?  I inwardly shrugged my shoulders with the thoughts, what’s the big deal?  Why stress out about it if it doesn’t affect our plans?  Did I mention I had (have?) the emotional depth of a kiddie pool?

We continued on our way to walking the steps to the top of the monument and by the time we had ascended to the top, Ed and I were a couple.  And by that I mean, halfway up the 897 step climb he held my hand and put his arm around my shouder as we took in the views from the top.  Ed later told me that the reason he formed an affection for me was because I didn’t “bug him” or make him try to talk about his feelings about seeing all those cops. 

I now know that I had inadvertently allowed him to go to his cave, as described in Men are from Mars/Women are From Venus, to process his feelings thus earning me major points.  Thing is, I knew in my heart of hearts that I didn’t bug him mostly because I just didn’t care.  If I had cared about him at all at that point I would have used all of my Venusian wiles to try to coax him out of his cave, thereby sabotaging any chance at being his girlfriend over the next several months.  (Yeah it didn’t last.  Go figure.)

I write this now because it’s nice to know what the heck that was all about and why it was such a big deal to him.  Lesson learned:  if you want your man to adore you, leave him alone when he’s in his cave.  If necessary, try not to care and, if that doesn’t work, pretend that you really have a crush on someone else anyway.


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Dreams Revisited

Last night as I was viewing the last segment of Wayne Dyer‘s recent PBS special, Wishes Fulfilled, I realized that I need to reconsider a dream I had several years ago while recovering from cancer surgery.  Dr. Dyer interviews Anita Moorjani about a near death experience she had and her descriptions of that event lend some credence to what I have cast off as idle wishful thinking lo these many years.

The Human Body -- Cancer

The Human Body -- Cancer (Photo credit: n0cturbulous)

In 1984 I had a mole removed from my upper back which turned out to be stage four melanoma.  Our third child was barely four weeks old when I learned that I must have a large area excised to the extent that I would also require a skin graft (which I only mention because the donor site on the back of my thigh caused me much more “discomfort”). My surgeon arranged for me to stay in the hospital an extra several days during which I had a liver scan and other diagnostic tests to determine the extent of any metasteses — which is the danger with this type of skin cancer.

I had returned home with the news that no further treatment was necessary, however, the question remained in my mind, “did they really get it all?”  Actually, the biopsy revealed no presence of melanoma in any of the removed flesh.  (“Hooray!  Could I have it back???”)  During that time, I heard about young cancer patients being encouraged to use visualization techniques to picture the chemotherapy drugs as if they were soldiers conducting battle against the cancer.  I distinctly recall applying that idea and creating a knight on a white horse and sending him to find and destroy any “enemy” cells in my body and just as distinctly remember that he returned to report that none were found.

Apparently, however, I needed further reassurance because shortly after that I had either a dream or a vision that I went to what I call heaven.  There are three things I remember for sure from this dream:

  1. I saw people who I knew although I can’t remember exactly who they were.  The message I received was that yes, I would be reunited with family and friends in heaven.
  2. A profound sense of KNOWING.  When I interacted with others there, without words, I knew everything there was to know about the other person and I knew that they knew everything there was to know about me.
  3. Therefore, the overall feeling was of complete oneness, acceptance beyond anything I’d ever experienced on earth and undeniable, unequivocal, unconditional LOVE.

I share this now because I am now realizing, 28 years later, that is what I must do.  Furthermore, because I was given a gift in this vision of heaven that goes far beyond simply reassuring me that I was cancer-free, or as a nice thing to think about like a favorite fairy tale or story.

So what happens now?  Writing this blog entry for starters in order to bring this Truth that I have been shown to the front of my consciousness rather than buried in the basement with other castaway dreams.  I suspect next steps will show themselves in time.

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