Lola had a wonderful surprise this morning during horseback riding lessons. Rather than riding Bandit, her usual horse since about October of last year, she was excited to find out she was going to ride Apache, her all-time favorite horse. She loves Apache more than all the other horses because he likes to trot, and does so willingly, whereas it is necessary at times to almost kick the tar out of Bandit to get him to do even a lazy trot.
Toward the end of the lesson Lola was at a comfortable trot on Apache around the ring and the next thing I knew Apache had begun to canter! Lola has not yet progressed to the canter so she was totally unprepared for the shift in movement. I was sitting a few yards away on a wooden bench in the sun trying to stay warm and when I saw this change in pace I was puzzled as to WHY she had the horse in a canter, but at the same time marveling at how much she looked at ease up there. By the third or fourth stride the teacher verbally instructed Lola and Apache to slow down and/or stop, and while doing so, instead of shifting her weight back a little to accommodate the movement of slowing down, Lola instead leaned forward as if she was going into two-point position. This puzzled me even more, because the laws of physics were becoming pretty evident in my mind right then so when I saw her head pitch forward I was already off the bench and sprinting to the gate. From where I was it appeared that she landed on her head / neck area. I rushed into the arena and the sounds coming from Lola scared me to death. By the time I skidded on my knees to a stop in the dirt beside her, I had composed myself enough to realize the fall had mostly knocked the breath out of her and the sounds she was emitting were frantic gasps for air. I took her hand and while stroking her hair I softly coaxed her to relax and try to breathe more slowly so the air could come back into her lungs. I could hear her instructor’s voice drifting above us reinforcing this. When she finally could breathe normally, she was able to slowly move her arms, legs, fingers, toes, and then her neck. Imagine my relief when she was able to move with no difficulty! She then sat up, then got up, and walked! Hooray! My baby was going to be all right! She even decided to get back up on her horse to finish the last five minutes of the lesson.
Her teacher told her that one cannot be a horseman / horsewoman unless you fall off the horse at least once, but always make sure to get back on, even for a few seconds!
Amen to that! Been there, done that.
All I know is that my heart stopped to see her land in what I thought was a very awkward position.
Some of the mothers who were watching from a different angle said they saw Lola tuck her head and roll when she landed on the ground, and it was really quite a relief for them to see she had done that.
Things are all a matter of perspective. I saw it one way and they saw it another.
Later when we were having lunch at her favorite noodle place Lola shook her head and said “Mama, I cannot believe I fell off Apache! I don’t remember anything except trotting, and then waking up on the ground and hurting and everybody looking at me!”
The ‘everybody looking at me’ part was what disturbed her more than anything. Yes, that is proof positive that my girl is becoming a bit self-conscious as she enters the lovely phase of growing into a young lady…
Later in the car she remembered that she was so used to urging Bandit to keep moving past the gate when they were trotting (Bandit slows and stops when he goes by the gate every time he and Lola go around the ring, perhaps wishfully thinking he can go back to his stall) that she momentarily forgot it was Apache she was on that time, who needs little or no urging to trot. So when she gave Apache that little extra nudge he took it for a request to shift gears into canter mode.
Bless his little palomino heart, he stood like a statue when Lola fell. He stayed put until led to mounting area for her to get back in the saddle.
And if it’s possible to love that horse more than we already do, we DO!!
When we got home from lessons she announced to our cats, “Hi, guys!! I fell off my horse today - - can you believe it? Man, do I HURT!”