Today has been an interesting day, with ups and downs. But to cheer me up I am going to recount one of the more exciting moments of the day.
Otis and I went for a hack with Apollo and his Mummy this morning. We went down the road and then cut through some woods towards a field.
“It’s a good job I’m on Otis” I said as we negotiated the lock and chain on the first gate. Llani would struggle to stand still while I leant around his neck with no reins.
Apollo was excited for the fields; he knows them well! We had a steady canter along the top of the first field before pulling up for the second gate. It was a narrow one which swung open downhill. It was latched with a loop of bailing twine. Otis and I went through first, and then Apollo and his Mum followed.
“I’ll shut it!” She cries, attempting to turn Apollo around. He had other ideas though, keeping one ear fixed on the “Place to Canter”. They pushed the gate, then turned round as it swung back open.
I want to let them learn to shut the gate, but inside I want the job done, so I close my mouth a wait patiently.
“Your saddle’s slipping, do you want me to do the gate?” I say, as Apollo’s Mummy starts to slide to the right. She pulls herself up, as Apollo turned to look at his saddle sliding. Obviously this made the problem worse, and I watched in horror as his Mummy slide gracelessly off the side into a large puddle.
Apollo looked in horror and then BANG! Her air jacket exploded. Apollo leapt back, startled, before turning tail and fleeing. With Otis and me in hot pursuit.
“This is why I will never take you hunting” I said to Otis as we careered along the field, watching Apollo’s saddle continue to slip round. He was obviously frightened of his new style.
We continued down the field, me trying to steady Otis, calling Apollo, and keeping him firmly in my sight. Down into the wooded track, ducking the low branches, over the large stones and through the running stream before Apollo propped right and cantered along the road.
As I said last week, some people feel that it is safe and a useful training aid cantering on the road. After today, I maintain my view that I do not like cantering on a Tarmac road. It is slippy and the clatter of feet tells me there is more impact than trotting along it. Plus the fact that I was approaching the family on bikes very rapidly!
The young girl screamed, leapt off her bike and hid in the hedge, whilst the Mother and son pressed themselves close to the opposite hedge, mouths open in fear.
Thankfully, Apollo paused to look at the bike on the ground, allowing me to catch up and stop Otis. Apollo turned, but thought twice about running back along the road. Calling his name, I managed to get close enough to grab hold of his reins. They both stood there, trembling. I knew how they felt, as I felt my legs shake when I dismounted.
Otis was wired, and kept pacing in circles, so I stayed in the middle of the road and began to sort a frightened Apollo. The pommel was by his elbow, one stirrup was missing, and his martingale had slipped so that the rings had pulled his reins down to his chest. This probably didn’t help the panic button. His saddle cloth was a sheepskin one, which I always think are quite slippery so probably didn’t help the situation.
Once the saddle was back on and I was mentally preparing myself for taking two horses back to the field, I heard a shout. Apollo’s Mummy appeared round the corner, waving the missing stirrup! She was perfectly fine, except for having a wet bum and burst pride. Or air jacket!
You should also remember that the bike riding family are still hiding in the hedge, too scared to move. I returned Apollo to his Mummy and we told Family Bike to pass before finding a nearby gate and remounting.
We walked quietly home letting all of our pulses revert to normal, having a short trot towards the end to ensure both horses were sound and comfortable. I checked both horses legs when we were back at the yard, so thankfully we all escaped unscathed.