Horses etc. Part 2

This morning’s painful hip put me in mind of this horse:

Spider – was a good bit thoroughbred, but with something else thrown in I am certain, given her height (very leggy like a supermodel in Westwood shoes). A bay, she was a bit of a cow but reasonably manageable in the school. This day (why do they say that in racing circles? My 5yo also says it when she is looking forward to something e.g. “Is it after this day and that day?”) we were hacking around the Mudchute city farm on the Isle of Dogs. It had passed uneventfully, but when a canter back to the yard was suggested things went a bit pear-shaped. My friend set off in front on Digby, a nice piebald cob, and then I was to follow. Except Spider just took off and to this day I think the t*sser that passed for an instructor smacked her or something given the way she shot away down the narrow track like a BAGS railer at Crayford.

You know those films where there’s a big sawmill about to cut someone in half, all grinding teeth and flying sawdust? Well, that’s what I thought we were going to do to poor Digby as we bore down on his rear end. That turned out to be a feature of this most terrifying of bolting escapades i.e. what I thought would happen didn’t. Somehow we squeezed past Digby at breakneck speed. Then I thought we would definitely stop at the yard as it is an unusual horse that will gallop right past their comfy stable. Spider didn’t stop. She kept on like she was in the bloody Pardibuce Velka. I then kidded myself she was going to grind to a halt by the time we were in the car park, after all cars can be pretty scary for horses can’t they? No chance. By the time we had charged through the car park I was utterly resigned to our hurdling the five-bar iron gate that lay between Mudchute Farm and the superstore Asda.

Spider seemed pretty committed to this suicidal aim, having taken complete leave of any little sense she had, but as she hit the tarmac of the road and tried to rally hard left her shiny and slippery horseshoes just betrayed her and she shot hard right as her legs were taken from under her. I was flung out the sidedoor to the left and we landed in a dishevelled heap at the feet of two police people patrolling on foot (as they once did in days of yore). Of all the hoodlums they expected to see on their beat that day in E14 I imagine Spider and me were pretty much not on the list. I can’t remember much else. I know I hit the road hard on my left side. I drove home and must have taken myself to the hospital later. The doctor could not believe all I had broken was my ring finger on my left hand which must have just been snapped by the reins as we parted company. Neither could I. Apart from that, severe bruising to my hip and not being able to use my shoulder properly for about six months I was grand. It didn’t put me off riding, but I swear the most frightening thing I can still think of is being onboard a crazed, bolting horse.

See, the thing is, I know what to do on a horse that has run off with you. I had bridged my reins already like a jockey and because in a tug of war between a human and a horse you know you won’t win, the thing to do is haul on one side of their mouths, which should unbalance them and start to make them turn. I used this to good effect with that other miscreant, Peggy Sue. You make a huge turning circle like the QEII and eventually they get bored of running in mile diameter circles and slow down. With Spider there was nowhere to turn to. We were on tiny tracks and trails and car parks! Lessons learned though: only start a fast pace where you have room to manoeuvre and don’t trust riding instructors as many are from the dark side.

What Spider did next

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Posted on November 23, 2009, in Be not idle, Biophilia, Horse racing, Nostalgia and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Spider 1 Diva 0

    I’m finding these tales impressive. The first time I came off a horse was when some utter cowboy (girl) was ‘teaching’ me to ride which was only last year. It was in a field of stubble, it began to thunder & she was 300 yards away giving her horse some exercise. My ‘Dougal’ who was a hell of an ugly piebald animal with blue eyes saw his chance to gallop me off and so he did. I landed on my neck. On the way home I thought of Christopher Reeve (sp?) and jacked it in. The bruise spread right across my chest and it still hurt when jogging months later. Bugger all compared to the above, though. Am further noting with due respect that you can still ride a bike after what happened to your arse up there : )

    • Ouch, sounds like a serious hematoma, no wonder you gave it up as a bad job! Learning to ride in a stubble field in a thunderstorm kind of adds grist to my mill about the evil instructors.

      As for the posterior, it’s all about the seat bones…

  2. Try a bolting horse harnessed to a carriage with a full load of ten unsuspecting tourists on board…now that’s what I call exhilarating.

  3. “Wally loves jumping!”, cried the instructor in her most reassuring tone. She didn’t, nor did I.

    Bridging the reins and the turning circle didn’t work for me either when the equine lunatic of Looe bolted with me (you were there).

    On the rare occasions that I ride now I confine myself to flat work in the school, despite the many attractions of a hack on Dartmoor. I do so in the fond belief that I can’t come to much harm that way. No doubt the horse has other ideas.

    And finally, no wonder you never answered any of my questions about the Salisbury Plain day……..

  4. No wonder!

    We sound like a maddened Thelwell gang 🙂

    Do I detect a pattern emerging? All these bolting and bad hats have been given dodgy names. Wally for a girl, Spider for a horse, Dougal for an animal not in the Magic Roundabout and Peggy Sue for a bison. We need to know what the culprit on Sark was called. Were they just protesting about their rubbish names. You can make or break a dog that way!

  5. My bolting charger has the boring name of Blackie ( I did do my best to get my daughter to change it to something more exciting, but he came with the name and she said it is unlucky to rename them). I too was on a bridlepath where you couldn’t turn, but I couldn’t have stopped him if I’d have tried. I was too busy trying to stay on, as I hadnt ridden at that speed since me thirties, some ten years before! He was spooked by a nutcase of a horse in the adjacent field who was galloping about with excitement on seeing another of her species.
    Never again! I ended up flat on my back on a nasty gravelly surface gasping for air and wondering if I was about to die! It was the first time I have ever been winded and now I know how it feels!Me coat was all ripped at the back and I had to have six weeks off work witha back injury. The physiotherapist who treated me said she could never understand why anyone would want to get on a horse’s back. She had seen too many people hurt by doing so to ever want to be tempted to have a go herself!

  6. Oh dear Jan, that sounds awful 😦

    I was hoping my non-horsey sister would come on the comments and even the score up a bit with a positive report, but then I remembered she too had an awful fall in South Africa and damaged her back permanently…

  7. This thread just makes jump jockeys seem ever more absurd. They must know they have an ability to bounce, to not be trampled by herds, and to get through life without extraneous parts like spleens.

  8. Someone said on a racing forum this week after Louis Beuzelin had his spleen removed (flat jockey, car accident in Barbados)

    “all the best jockeys have their spleens removed”

    There are ways to fall. You are meant to relax into it. Being drunk is even better apparently as you are already relaxed. I’m going to stop there.

  9. Clearly we are all mad.

    I would never, ever, get on a horse that had blue eyes – spooky.

    Can anyone tell me where Nigel Hawke had his recent win and which was the horse?

  10. ‘I would never, ever, get on a horse that had blue eyes – spooky.’

    If only you’d told me sooner ; )

  11. If Nige is a trainer? it was at Exeter last Friday and the horse was called Callerlilly.

    Sometimes blue eyes in horses are called wall eyes (if they have white round the outside) but not all do. This one looks quite nice I think, bolting tendencies notwithstanding.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vosdamen/4106839052/in/pool-blueeyedhorses

  12. Interesting stuff Father. I can only understand every other word mind, but I think I get the gist. How was Japan? x

  13. This site just keeps looking better every time I show up. You should really be happy.

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