sometimes things just happen ~ part 1 of 2

As our second trail ride of the summer approached, I couldn't find any open trails within reasonable distance. All the State and County park trails were closed due to excessive rain. Just as we were about to cancel our plans, an opportunity to ride on private trails came up. It was further then we normally drive for day trips, but we agreed to meet up.

It took us longer then expected to get there. By the time we arrived, the group of 5 we were meeting were chomping at the bit to head out. We quickly tacked up and headed out, onto a road. I must add, I hate road riding! On a horse, on a bike, walking - doesn't matter. If I am not in my truck, I don't want to travel on any roads. Too many unsafe drivers. I was forewarned we had to cross a highway to get to the trails. The farm we were visiting is on a County Hwy. I assumed that was the road, it would be no big deal to cross. I was wrong. I had NO idea the road we had to cross was an extremely busy four lane highway *gulp* with a median strip, and speeding vehicles approaching from around blind curves on both sides! We stuck together, and made it across safely. 

It wasn't too much longer and we found ourselves on trails in an area of WI with terrain that had a hint of Colorado, especially the crystal clear long streams. It was stunning and beautiful, until it wasn't.

There were rock bed water crossing around every bend. We had only been riding in the woods around 15 minutes when the third water crossing we came upon had a wide waterfall type drop off (5"?) that you couldn't get around. Five riders before me navigated it just fine. They went across the low 1-2" stream, took one step down, crossed more stream, and back up onto the wooded path. The horses before me went one by one. Koda stopped at the top of the step down, and dropped his head to look. I gave a gentle encouraging bump with my legs, he did what I asked and stepped off...the rest, is nothing but a blur.

In a nano second I found my self vertical with the horn inches from my face. I tried to reach for it, but after a brief suspended moment realized "uh oh, I am going to fall". I slid 'er fell off to the right, into the stream. Landing hard onto the rock bed, shoulder first. I heard someone scream. I remember yelling whoa! Think Brad did too, and then called Koda. I instantly stood up and said "I am okay". I didn't hit my (helmet-less) head. There I was stunned, standing in a running stream with one sock foot, soaked from shoulder on down. My boot had fallen off to the left of Koda. I watched my petrified boy as he walked back up the drop off, to Cierra. Thank god Koda went to the left, or he would have crushed me. 

No one saw what happened, until we were mid air. The gal two horses in front of me heard scrambling, turned and saw Koda do what she called "a lippizanner jump". Brad was behind me working with Cierra in the stream, and looked up to see us in mid air. He thought I had it when Koda jumped. Me too. Clearly I didn't. I was completely stunned. What the hell just happened?? My shoulder hurt, but I hurt much worse for my horse. Who willingly did what I asked, and now his lower legs were cut up. Two of them were bleeding, one more then the other. 

Brad & I switched horses. He splashed cold clear water on Koda's legs. It took Brad a lot of coaxing to get Koda to step down that drop off again, this time in hand. He didn't appear lame, so we continue on with the group.

My heart was in my soggy boots. I wanted to go back, and be done with this ride - but I kept my mouth shut & sucked it up. We rode on for around 3 more hours. After a few more in hand water crossings, Koda was able to get his mind back and ride through them. I should have, and wanted to be the one to help Koda through this. But I was injured, and did what I felt was best for my horse. Brad rode him the rest of the ride.

Cierra took good care of my broken self. I was worried sick about Koda, the entire ride. We kept a close eye on him. He never showed any lameness. Brad & I rode side-by-side most of the remaining way. I love my hubby so much! Such a good guy, he knew I was hurting. Our friend also stuck nearby much of the ride, trying to cheer things up. Meanwhile the others loped their horses silly, back-n-forth. I will keep my opinion to myself for now on that subject. Especially considering we had young minds on the trail, both horse & human. I'll just say, to each his own.

I tried to enjoy the beauty that surrounded us, as I came to grips that things could have been much much worse. I am thankful to be alive. We made it back across the busy highway, to the trailer. Rinsed & wrapped Koda's right front and headed home. 

The trails we traveled on last Sunday are ridden frequently by area riders with permission from the farmers that own the combined acreage, including the rock bed stream. We rode just a tiny portion of these beautiful hidden trails. The prairie paths were mowed, the huge oak pastures had worn paths, and the beautiful wooded area trails were cleared. On hot days, the host said they ride the length of the winding varied stream. I would too. 

To this day, I cannot figure out what I could have done differently to prevent the accident (other then not fall). Am I that bad of a rider? I know I am not. I must have bad luck? I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but why is it always me?? Our trainer reassured me, sometimes things just happen. For no reason.

...to be continued...


Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sorry to hear that you fell and were injured. It's good that Koda wasn't hurt too badly and he wasn't lame. I hope once you got him back home he was okay. He sounds like a real trooper and so do you. I'm not a big fan of road riding and definitely not of crossing four lane highways. It does sound like a pretty place to ride though. I'm also not a fan of others being less than calm and polite to all the rest of us riders on a trail. I figure if you want to be "silly" do it on your own time. And I know it's none of my business and people do what they feel works for them but I never ride without a helmet and it's saved what's left of my gray matter more than once.

Don't beat yourself up too badly. Stuff happens and a jump in a western saddle when you're not ready for it certainly makes a case for unplanned dismounts. Glad you didn't hit your head on the stones and hope your soreness is getting better.

Linda said...

Definitely DO NOT beat yourself up over it. The best riders fall off their horses every now and then because they're taking them places and doing things. Those who don't venture out of a small area sometimes, and I do stress sometimes, get hurt less--but it has nothing to do with skill level. I'm so glad you could walk away and didn't hurt your head. I hate helmets, but I have been wearing one lately with Leah. As my hair has gotten curlier, it has gotten tighter, and my last ride it gave me a headache. Still...better safe than sorry, I guess. It sounds like a beautiful place to ride--but a tough water crossing. Koda must have lost his footing and tried to regain it. It's interesting that it happened so quickly--that's the way it always happens. When Leah ran past me into the stall a couple weeks ago--I had that same feeling--you see it happening, but it happens too fast to process. Heal up and get back in the saddle asap!

Shirley said...

So sorry you had a wreck, and yes, sometimes stuff just happens. Hind sight is 20-20, I'm sure you have played it out many times in your mind. Glad both you and Koda don't have major injuries.
I rarely trail ride without a helmet, especially if I am going with strangers; you never know how well behaved their horses are, and it only takes one to spook to set off a chain reaction.
I bet you don't ride out with that group again. ;)

C-ingspots said...

Oh, fuck it! Only those who never ride, never fall...remember that. Thankfully, (and that's what matters) you and Koda are fine. A bit wiser even. :) When a fall happens that fast, it's usually because the horse slipped on a snotty-slick rock underwater. He's shod right?? Most likely nothing you could have done differently, and nothing Koda could have done differently either. Shit happens. To all of us, sometime or another. Those trails sound absolutely perfect! Make sure you go there again and this time, master the ride. However...on another note. Pick carefully those you choose to ride with. Some people seriously lack both common sense, and empathy.
Our summers seem to be happening on different planets this year. You, with your torrential rains and us with our ongoing scorching heatwaves.

aurora said...

Thanks so much for all the encouraging comments. I choose to be selective about when I wear my helmet, and fully aware you don't get to pick when you fall. I base wearing mine on where I am riding, and the status of my connection with Koda. I would have worn mine had I known I was crossing a major highway. Not that a helmet is going to do much if you get flattened by a semi. It was damn scary crossing that highway! With this accident, it wouldn't have made a difference if I had a helmet on or not. But yes, wearing one is definitely safer. Lorie, Koda is not shod.

The people we rode with were all very kind, only the host was new to us. The majority just wanted to lope a lot, and we needed to walk. I do enjoy the occasional lope on a flat stretch of trail, but no way was Koda going to be asked or allowed to move out on an injured leg. I've never loped Cierra, it would have been dumb to try with the way I was feeling and only one good arm.

I sure wish I could let the whole thing go, and had an off button for my head...but, that isn't one of my better qualities. I'll post the rest of the story soon, it was just getting way too long.

Have a nice weekend everyone & I hope the weather turns more favorable for your respective areas!

Mrs Shoes said...

"Blogger C-ingspots said...
Oh, fuck it! Only those who never ride, never fall...remember that."

Echo that.
I'd want to go ride there again, maybe just with Hubby, because it sounds like an awesome place to ride, & I wouldn't want to miss that much wonderful because I had a moment of suck.
Ride on Aurora!
ps. Does anyone call you Rory?

aurora said...

I doubt we will get a chance to ride those private trails again, maybe? The host (a friend of our friend) was nice and very helpful. She just had two different type of riders to accommodate, and stayed primarily with the ones that needed the most guidance. I can't even imagine having permission to ride those special trails...if we did, we would trailer across that main four lane highway. Can't believe they cross it on a regular basis!

Will try to keep the good stuff in mind :) rest assured, I have no intentions of not riding. I don't shorten my name Mrs. Shoes, but my daughter is called Rory by my X's side. My first name run's four generations deep in my family, still hoping for a fifth :)

Sherry Sikstrom said...

I somehow didn't see this post originally! Scary wreck that was. What could you have done different? hard to say ,maybe nothing , unless you are psychic and could have seen it coming. There are variables out there we cant always see every possible angle!

aurora said...

Sherry, I've asked myself that question most every day. What could I have done different? There isn't a single thing I would have done different. It all turns into "what if's" ....