Saturday, August 25, 2012


"Jinx," noun:
  • A type of curse placed on a person that makes them prey to many minor misfortunes and other forms of bad luck;
  • A person afflicted with a similar curse, who, while not directly subject to a series of misfortunes, seems to attract them to anyone in his vicinity.
  • An object or person that brings bad luck.

Within 24 hours, my horse head-butted my mom into the ER, Annie's leadrope broke, she broke her halter after catching it on the trailer door's hinge and panicking, I failed to load her to go to the Library event, I locked every single one of my keys in the tack room, Mr. Strut foundered again, and someone stole three of my horseshoes from the library's western display. All this only a couple of days after the wasp incident.

Mom is going to be okay. She got a mild concussion, a nice shiner and 8 stitches. Annie had been bending down to sniff at mom's little dog, the dog snarled or nipped, and Annie jerked her head up, head-butting mom in the process. Mom was actually lifted off of her feet, and the skin of her forehead split open. I was only fifty feet away in the barn, having just warned mom not to let her continually barking dog in the gate. There was a lot of blood, and my mom was pretty panicked, but this is how cool she is: after I took off my shirt to hold against her head, her main worry was that I was going to be half-naked in front of the EMS when they arrived. I reassured her that the EMS wouldn't tease me for seeing my bra/boobies, but she was still more concerned about me than herself. The EMS responders turned out to be all female anyway, so it was fine. Putting the damp shirt back on afterwards was not cool; I smelled like blood for hours. Smelling like your mom's blood is really gruesome.

Annie and Mr. Strut are also going to be okay. Annie's encounter with the dog happened on the night before the library event (mom was actually going to help me do some more trailer practice with her). Fortunately, she suffered no ill effect; that horse has a hard head as well as a giant one I guess. Oh, and the dog is fine too (stupid dog).

The Vicious Beast
On the day of the library event, I discovered Mr. Strut's founder shortly before trying to trailer Annie. He's got his foam pads on and is on short pasture again. I feel terrible for not noticing sooner that the pasture was getting too lush. It was around the time that I was hunting down supplies for his feet when I locked all of my keys in the tack room, like a friggin' idiot. I was pretty stressed though, so maybe I've got an excuse. At that point, we only had 45 minutes to get him treated, then get Annie trailered and driven to the library event. Anyway, I cracked one of the tack room's windows trying to pry it open, and eventually took a sledgehammer to the door frame. That got the dang door open! The door is going to be okay too-- it even still locks despite the dents.

Annie's lead rope snapped for no apparent reason; I had just finished longeing and walking her to get her calmed down (she had gotten antsy when I took Mr. Strut away to work on his feet). We were standing still, she flipped her head up, and SNAP! Out of nowhere. It was my new one too! Then of course, Annie did get a little scraped up after catching her halter on the hinge of the trailer and panicking (it was after freeing her that I called it quits on trailering her at all that day). Today she's her normal self, albeit a bit scabby.

Obviously I never did get Annie to the library. With that much bad voodoo working against me, time ticking away and Annie upset, there was no way to safely continue. However, my awesome friend Becky Kubehl saved the day by letting me borrow her pony, Tanner. We got to her place, trailered him up and made it to the library with seconds to spare. Becky and her daughters then stuck around to help talk to the crowd (only three families and two passerby after all that work). Tanner was an angel the whole time. The pictures below are a combination of that Horse & Pony seminar and the cowboy story time I had done prior to that.

During all the fuss, I wrenched my shoulder, scraped my hand (the wasp-stung one) and caught a cold. I am convinced that I have offended God, or someone has put a jinx on me. On the other hand, I am extremely grateful to have incredibly helpful and brave neighbors, EMS personnel, friends and family members.

You can check out the pictures below-- at the very, very bottom I've also included one of the pages I passed out at the event, and also gave to the library to put on display. I'm thankful for all your suggestions about what to tell non-horse-people, and I tried to use them!

We talked about how horses scare easily, how not to approach a horse, how much horses cost to take care of, hoof care. helmets and other basic stuff. The book in this photo is "My Pony," by Susan Jeffers, a great one.

The little girl on the far right was scared, but also kept wanting to pet the pony. She would pat him, yelp and run away, then come back for more. It was adorable.
He insisted on the helmet. "I'm a serious cowboy."

Seven Things a Horse Owner Should Know

1. Horses are more like deer than dogs. They frighten easily, run away at the drop of a hat, and have less loyalty to humans. Don’t assume your horse will instinctively cooperate or look out for your safety.

2. The quickest path to injury is through a disrespectful horse. You MUST be seen by your horse as THE BOSS first, and a friend second. Horses are constantly testing each other (and you) to see if they can claim a higher place in the herd hierarchy by pushing around weaker herd members. DO teach him obedience every time you handle him, or risk being bitten, trampled, squished, etc. Training is a requirement, not an option.

3. Trust your instincts. Although most horse people are good people, just as in all areas of life, there are bad apples. There are poor trainers, crooked sellers, abusive breeders, neglectful stable owners and “experienced cowboys” with lots of bad advice. If something seems wrong, it very well may be. If you spot thin animals, broken fences, questionable training techniques or just get a “bad vibe,” trust yourself and walk away.

4. Horses and horsepeople have “cliques.” Some like to jump or show in western pleasure; some like to relax on a trail ride. Some really prefer one training method; others hate it. Find a horse, a trainer and a group that suits your interests, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the right one immediately. 

5. Never stop having fun. At some point, someone will pressure you. A clique in your barn will scorn your chosen sport, a partner will demand you try showing to justify the expense of a horse, a rival trainer will sneer at your riding skills. Don’t let ‘em pressure you. Do with your horse whatever makes you both happy, even if it’s just petting and carrots. Not everyone is an Olympic dressage rider in the making. Relax!

6. Check your tack. Ask yourself if that bit really needs to be that harsh. The simpler the tack, the better.  A horse that “needs a harsh bit” actually needs to be trained not to pull! Except for highly trained horses in serious sports, putting extra stuff on a horse just covers up problems instead of fixing them, and often causes the horse pain. Tack is not a substitute for training. In addition, make sure your tack fits you and your horse.

7. Wear a helmet. Just like wearing a seatbelt, it’s the easiest thing you can do to save your own life. Make sure it’s a helmet made specifically for horseback riding; while a bike helmet is better than nothing, it does not offer the same protection. Yes, you do have the freedom to ride without a helmet… but remember that if you’re injured, your friends, family, co-workers and horse also pay the price of your absence or death.

1 comment:

  1. You know my mom coined a phrase when in about a two week period, I came down strep throat, chicken pox and broke my foot stepping off of a curb.
    She called me the "Queen of the Disease of the Week Club".
    You are hereby known as
    "God Emperor of the Disease of the Week Club"

    Cute pony, hope everyone had a good time and stay safe (safer) out there!