I fell off Toadie for the first time today. Which is probably a good thing because I haven't regularly ridden a 16.1 hh's horse in my adult life and I was worried it was so high up I could get hurt much worse than falling off a 14 or 15hh horse. But it really wasn't any worse falling off a horse a few inches taller than the horses I have mostly ridden for the last few years.
I also need to make clear it was totally my fault and Toad didn't do anything "bad". I was riding (just at a walk because she is was a little bit of a ding-a-ling and I was wearing jeans and no half chaps and felt kind of funky and discombobulated because of that ... because I'm sensitive ... like a Thoroughbred). Anyway, we were doing really and she was listening well and I am starting to learn to communicate more effectively with her as I'm riding her more. At one point we went past the open space above the front arena door and she saw a big white bird (an egret?) suddenly fly up in the air out by the woods, making a weird squawking sound, and it really worried her. We changed direction soon after and walked past the open space in the outside arena door the opposite direction many times and she wasn't at all concerned. We were kind of weaving all over the place because I was working on steering with her and working on having her walk down the middle of the arena without stopping or trying to go socialize with Trainer K. and G. who had been riding Misty but who was now hanging out in the middle talking to Trainer K.
So, we started to walk by the open arena door the same direction as when she'd gotten so worried about the bird, and she told me straight out in her horse-way, "Mom, I'm scared, I don't want to do this!" and I said, "You're fine. Nothing to worry about, let's just go," and she said again, "No, Mom, really, this is too scary for me," and I said, "Just do it, Ok? Power through and you'll see it's fine." Duh. This is not at all how you deal with a Thoroughbred and I know it. I just forgot it momentarily. So, after her second plea for us to turn and not go toward the door she suddenly freaked and screamed, "Aaaargh! Mom! I can't do it! I told you I can't do it! It's too scaaaaaaary!" and she turned around and started to scoot really fast away from the door. I managed to stay on and go with her, but the big problem was I was holding the blasted dressage whip and I'm still not used to holding one, so when I lost my balance a little when she turned and scooted, my hand went up, thus the dressage whip was no longer nicely down on my leg and it waved up in the air to the right of her head and then she freaked about the big monster coming to get her from the right and scooted to the side and next thing I knew I was heading off to the right and I knew that it would get much worse if I tried to stay on so I just let go of the reins and actually said out loud, "And ... I'm going down ..." and landed Thwack! on my butt/lower back, then my upper back slammed down on the ground and then my head slammed down on the ground. Ooof.
I will tell you right now that helmets ROCK! I could feel how hard my head hit the ground and I could also feel how well padded and protected my head was in that helmet! It definitely hurt and the back of my head is still sore (although amazingly I didn't get a lump) but I swear as my head slammed into the ground the thought raced through my head "Damn - this is a good helmet!" The thought also raced through my head, "Wow. My butt hurts!" But I was wearing my eventing vest and my third thought was "Wow - nothing hurts where the eventing vest is - that's so cool!" And it's true, nothing does hurt where the eventing vest was. My butt is super sore, and my neck is sore from being jerked around, but that's it. So, my eventing vest is now no longer my security blanket - it is my "Smart thing to do for middle-aged women with rheumatoid arthritis when they're riding young, green race horses!"
Toadie was standing next to me facing me and looking very worried so I stood up and started to brush myself off and was going to reach over and grab her reins and Trainer K. was on her way across the arena and said, "No, don't get up!" to which I said, "What?" and she commanded, "Sit back down! You're not getting up yet!" So, I dutifully sat back down thinking, "You know, I was just lying in the dirt, I'd really prefer not to sit back down in it." Oh well. Trainer K. came over and picked up Toad's reins and asked if I'd hit my head (I guess she hadn't seen me hit the ground because she was across the arena and on the other side of Toad). I said "Yes, but not very hard," and she walked behind me to see if my helmet was crushed at all and said, "Yep. Your head hit the ground but your helmet isn't crushed." Then she asked me if anything hurt and I said, "No, I feel totally fine" (which is true - yay adrenaline!) so she said, "You should get up then."
So I stood up, brushed myself off and she said, "Since you're fine I think you should get back on your horse." I said, Ok, and as I sat up on her I said, "You know, I'm probably not as fine as I think, I'm probably just in shock," and she said, "Yes, I can guarantee you're in a little shock but you may as well ride around for a few minutes just for good measure." I was definitely very shaky and poor Toad was still absolutely terrified. When I asked her to go she put her head on Trainer K.'s chest and I could just hear her trying to say, "Oh god - don't let her back up there! She goes flying off and it really scares me when she does that! She might do it again!" Trainer K. had to back away and hand me the dressage whip in order to get her to go and leave Trainer K. alone. We walked around for maybe five minutes until Toad wasn't so visibly terrified and realized that I not going to just randomly go diving off her back (or walk her past the scary door again - at least not today). Then my neck started to get sore so I got off. Toad was definitely slinking along with her "Are you going to sell me? Am I in trouble? I'm really sorry! I really tried to be good!" look. Poor little neurotic thing.
Speaking of neurotic things, this evening as I was reaching to put my foot in my flip flops I suddenly saw two distinct, bright yellow flashes of light out off to the side of my vision. I practically stopped breathing and thought, "Oh crap! I injured my head worse than I thought! Should I tell someone or hope that was an anomaly and won't happen again?" Awhile later when I kicked off my flip flops back where I'd gotten them from by the bench in the entrance hall where we keep our shoes, one of them hit my daughter's Twinkle-toes sneakers and the little yellow lights flashed for a moment on them. Phwew!