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.