Saturday, February 20, 2010

Falling Off

The two times I fell off Starr weren't exactly his fault, but due to his being a baby and scared of things like plastic bags, men in long raincoats, storm drains and cement trucks. By this time we were going outriding on our own, which, oddly enough, wasn't a problem at all. The first fall, however, happened when I was riding with a group, cantering along a pleasant dirt road through a forest. I knew Starr was afraid of plastic bags, and spotted one on the right hand side of the road ahead.

I took the precaution of leaning away from the bag, fully expecting him to leap sideways when he spotted it. Starr, of course, spotted something else, on the left side of the road ahead, and jumped right, with me leaning left. One minute there was a horse under me, the next, he was gone. Surprisingly, although the road was fairly hard and my bum not too well padded, the contact wasn't all that painful. The group stopped when it found a loose horse in its midst, and I picked myself up, red-faced, brushed myself off and remounted my errant and fleet-footed steed.

The second time, it was a man in a long, flapping raincoat who was standing next to the training arena. A simple matter of 3-year-old spots flapping coat, leaps sideways like a gazelle and leaves rider sitting on air. Boy, was he fast! That time, the grass was a lot softer. Starr never had any intention of dumping me in the mud, though, and after the second instance, seemed to realise that if he leapt sideways like a jack-in-a-box, I'd end up on my butt in the dirt. He never did it again.

After that, whenever he saw something he didn't like, he would slam on brakes, or shudder and snort, sidle sideways and generally try to stay as far away from the object of his fear as he could, but without the sideways leap. Naturally, since he was such a baby, I had to introduce him to frightening things like drums, storm drains and plastic bags. As soon as I dismounted, I could lead him up to them and persuade him to sniff them, while reassuring him that plastic bags and storm drains didn't eat horses.

So, he learnt fast, and I never fell off again. In fact, I think after that he strived to keep me in the saddle, since it was fairly easy to get me out of it!

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