Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dumb Things I've Gotten Away With

I tend to think of myself as a smart person. I try not to do stupid things and conduct my life in a reasonable manner. When you are working with horses every day it is imperative that safety comes first. We tend to think that riding is the best way to get yourself hurt around horses. When you look up statistics on horse-related accidents it is surprising to learn that more accidents occur while handling horses from the ground than while riding them.

I also tend to view myself as having good horse handling skills. I read the pony club manual from cover to cover when I was probably about 5 years old and who knows how many times I re-read it as a kid. I've been handling horses for as long as I can remember. I was lucky to grow up with my beloved pony Daisy and did all the things kids do with horses including laying on the ground next to her so we could "nap" together and galloping around bareback with a halter and leadrope. I've had my share of broken bones and injuries through the years and one would think this would lead to a good understanding of how to be safe around horses.

For some reason today I started thinking about all of the stupid things I do on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, for the most part I remember every sentence of the pony club manual and try to follow it, but we all let our guard down in some way. Last week was a farrier day and I was running behind and needed to finish getting horses into the barn. So I led four in at once instead of leading them in pairs like I normally would. They were all from the field farthest from the barn which meant almost a half mile walk, and also meant negotiating three sets of gates. My logic as I had the fleeting thought that this was probably not the smartest thing I've ever done was "polo players pony multiple horses while they are riding all the time so what's the big deal?" Since I've also led 4 in at once on more than one occasion and my track record is 100% success so far I was pretty sure I would get away with it again.

Since I'm being honest here I'll admit that my record is actually leading six in at once - from the farthest field again - and I successfully negotiated all three gates with six horses. I've only ever attempted leading that many at once the one time (when I'm being stupid I usually go with four horses), and it was when I was gathering up horses again, this time because the horse dentist was coming. Jason went ballistic on me when I casually told him of my feat. I was actually kind of impressed with myself which was why I mentioned it in the first place. Jason clearly missed the point and instead of being impressed at my superior horse handling skills he told me how stupid I was!!

To be fair I would never let Jason our any of our help do something that stupid, but in my twisted logic I see no problem with me doing it. I guess I also have the "do as I say and not as I do" thing going on as well. I'll also admit to putting ointment on a cut leg and then bandaging/vet wrapping the cut on a horse in the field without even bothering to put a halter on. Yeah, not very smart either!

Of course the last time I got hurt on the ground by a horse I was doing everything right - the irony! I was walking through a pasture to open a gate for Jason as he was putting hay out with the tractor. I was making sure I was walking well away from the horses. One of them spooked and took off running - while looking behind him instead of ahead. He never saw me and by the time I realized what was happening it was too late to get out of the way and he slammed into me at a full gallop. Luckily I walked away with only bruises. That incident happened about this time last year.

So what are the stupid things you have done and have gotten away with around horses? Or maybe what are some of the ones you haven't gotten away with?

A great view to end the day; Lightening, Spike and O'Reilly grazing as the sun was setting.


Lily, Cuff Links and MyLight were spread out and chilling out

Maisie was also having a very relaxing day; love the drooping lower lip

Fuzzy Punch and Clay
Darby grazing while Ogie naps, a common sight



Justin and Alex
Trigger and Grand


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, I think it is putting on and taking off turnout blankies in the paddock sans halter and lead. I justify it because only our antiques get turnout blamkets!

Six at one time! How on earth do you get the gates with six????

MunciEquestrian said...

The stupidest was probably jumping on a spirited gelding bareback, brisleless and helmetless and galloping 10 acres up to the barn. I got away with that one! The one I regret most is deciding to jump a large log out on the trails o. My really short, stubborn mare who hates jumping. She bucked going over the jump, I fell off, and when she landed she stepped on my arm. It broke, obviously! That I'll never forget! ;)

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Anonymous I don't know how I did the gates with six but I did. This is why I fail to see why Jason missed the point that I clearly had superior horse handling abilities!! I mean how many people could have pulled that one off?!?!

Anonymous said...

Ok .. the stupidest thing was when my 7 horses escaped and galloped off around midnight. A neighbor about two miles away (I was living in a very rural mountain area) found them and came to tell me. Well 7 horses.. one truck. Yes I did. I tied the lead horse a smart as you get appy to the truck and started calling to the others to follow. I made it all the way home in the dark forest rode without another car on the road. DUMB!!!!
It is true how much we get away with when they trust us so much. I got trampled a few years ago leading two horses and the one who did the deed didn't even see me because I was on his blind side so he would run into anything. Good thing was it was over before I new it. Luckily just bruises and a squashed foot.

Sylvia said...

I have two that are impressive. One was my fault, the other was just wrong place, wrong time.

First: I was at a show, it was late. We hade two, two horse trailers and 6 horses. I was the last to go. I was hand grazing my was getting dark. Her lead was looped through her halter (chain) she stepped through, went to pull her head up and was stuck, she reared up, ran backward and slammed her big ol' QH behind right into my friends brand new pick up. A few inches more and she would have sliced herself in to shreds between the truck and trailer hitches. Everyone was fine but shaken. Insurance covered the truck and I puked.

The other was, I was out in the pasture trying to catch a OTTB that had no intentions of being caught. I was walking beside a fav QH gelding that I adored. I had my arm hooked over his neck. After about 4 times of the OTTB coming up to us, teasing, then running off bucking, the QH gelding did too. He bucked and his feet slammed me. One in the boob and one in the mouth. I fell down, but remember feeling for my teeth before anything else!!! I had them all, but needed some mad skillzzz from an awesome plastic surgeon to put my lip back together. My boob was fine ;) but had a pretty purple horse hoof print around it.

Funder said...

I got my second horse, a sweet old mare, about a month after my first one. (I didn't want him to be lonely!) Anyway, Silky wouldn't stand for me to mount, and she was so tall I'd get one toe in the stirrup and have to hop after her yelling woah, so... I just left her tied to the hitching post, climbed on, leaned forward, and unclipped the lead. Every time. For MONTHS.

Eventually I got better skillz and taught her to stand still nicely.

Anonymous said...

Hey Melissa,

I haven't had the pleasure to meet you. However, I've had the pleasure to work with Jason (at Alltech), a hard working person like yourself and I've really enjoyed your stories about the horses. Sounds like you're doing an awesome job and from what I gather the horses must be really happy to have such great owners. Hip hip hurray! :)

Anonymous said...

The being rushed and getting kicked in the face by Dawn tops them all, for sure, although I've done plenty of other stupid things in my time!

AliFromNY said...

I was in Italy one summer, and there were some horses in the town we were staying in. Somehow the man with the horses found out that I rode, and let me ride this huge 17+ hand (I'm only 5'2") warmblood he had. Since I was on vacation, and not expecting to ride, my equipment consisted of a very old Wintec saddle that was in the barn, leather half chaps that were very dry and had no grip, a helmet in questionable condition and sneakers. Also, even though I spoke a little Italian, and the man spoke a little English, I was less than fluent in equestrian-speak and I'm not sure we communicated all that well.

All I know is that I ended up jumping this horse well over 4' on several occasions, a height which I rarely jumped on my own horse at home. At the time I thought it was the coolest thing, but looking back on it, I'm not sure how I stayed on, since my legs were flying all over the place.

There are numerous stories I could have shared, but I chose this one, because if I had gotten hurt, it wasn't like there was a hospital nearby.

Sylvia said...

I should have said, the moral of my post was PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!

Marissa said...

I can't even count all the dumb things I've done involving me and a horse. The most recent one though, was this: To unload my horse from the trailer by myself, I unclip his cross tie, then walk back and undo the butt bar, and he backs himself out. I never bothered to put the lead rope on him and loop it around his neck before letting him back out... until this summer, when after a 2.5 hour trailer ride, he unloaded himself, breezed right past me standing to the side of the ramp, and went for a little trot around the show grounds. Thankfully no one was hurt, but talk about stupid. Sheesh.

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

My stupid thing was participating in a cow clinic with my mare who had never seen a cow. That wasn't the problem though, the clinician was late to start the class so I used that time to introduce her to them (20-30 minutes). She was fine. The class started and for some reason the instructor singled me and my mare out to make a specific point to the rest of the class.....still not sure what that was, however, he told me to get off and let his grandson ride her because he was going to show her a thing or two....well, long story short, she dumped him immediately because he spurred her (I tried to tell him but wouldn't listen) so pride hurt, he went and got his own saddle because my brand new one just wasn't going to cut it. With his saddle on, loping her around and around for awhile, he got off and I was commanded to get on her and do the same thing with her by the instructor. What was the dumbest thing I did you ask? I actually rode for the rest of clinic without stirrups because his grandson's saddle was still on her and he was about 2 ft. taller than me! When I mentioned it to the clinician he said "get on that mare and RIDE". No excuses! Then it came time to rope, by that time my legs were shot. I told him I was not going to do it, I'm done! He said "go take some Alieve and you'll be fine. I said NO, I'm DONE...besides that, I had already taken some. At the end of the clinic, I noticed my saddle had a brand new huge scrape across the seat from his belt buckle to boot! Well, I'll never listen to a guy like that again....I'm not a novice anymore! What a bully! Dumb that I actually did what he said! Needless to say, I couldn't walk the next day! LOL!

SmartAlex said...

Dumbest thing I've gotten away with:
Tying horses to unhitched trailers. Got away with that one from the age of 7 'til about the age of 16 or 17 when my big Appendix QH walked off with one. Luckily, the trailer crashed into a woven wire fence (before the horse did). Or perhaps riding without ANY tack. That one didn't catch up to me until age 17... same horse, not his fault.

Dumbest thing I didn't get away with:
Hand grazing a horse in the field, wearing a stud chain, standing at his shoulder just like you should... a long horn steer walked up the fenceline behind him, and the horse turned and ran straight over me... hit me with his chest, a leg on each side, and flipped me a complete somersault backwards.

Dumbest thing my grandmother got away with... would have to be a toss up between saddling her first Saddlebred with a western saddle, and cinching both the front and rear cinches tight because why would there be two if you shouldn't use them? (horse never objected) Or assuming he was broke to drive and hitching him up to a sleigh and taking off down the road. ... luckily, he was.

Jason said...

I guess I'm glad Melissa isn't the only one ! Sheesh ! You people ALL need your own danger finders ! :)

Candy'sGirl said...

When I played polo, bringing anywhere between four and eight horses in at a time was totally normal. The options were 1.) bring enough people out to the pasture that everyone could bring in only one pair of ponies or 2.) take them all at once. If you didn't get them all in at once, the group left out would be running around all pissed off and freaked out that their friends had left them. Then good luck catching them without spending the next half hour chasing them down. It was easier just to bring them all in.

I would go out, halter everyone in pecking order and line them up along the gate with leads looped over the gate. Then I'd grab all the leads, typically in one hand and take everybody in. We'd stop at each stall, I'd throw the rope over the appropriate horse's neck, they'd walk in their stall and I'd push the door more or less shut. When I was out of ponies, I'd go back through and take off all the halters.

There was one pony who was actually pony height that I could jump on from the ground. I had a tendency to hop on him bareback and pony the other 5 in from his back. This included the getting everyone into their stalls part. That may or may not have been the best of plans...