My last lesson with Wendy this past Thursday was both great and terrifying. I rode Tigger, and everything was going pretty well, but as we started a new jumping course, Wendy suggested I give Tigger a tap with the crop to wake him up a little and take the jumps with more energy. My tap was, ahem, a bit much, more like a swat, and uh, he bolted. Like, he startled, made a sharp right turn (at which point my right foot came out of the stirrup), and took off like a shot. I got him steered to the railing by I don’t know what stroke of luck (because he was headed for a jump at first), and I just did my best to hang on. My right hand was buried in his mane, I was leaning back to try to be heavier in the saddle (indicating that I wanted to slow down), and my left hand was doing the tug-and-release thing in time to my stern “HO”s, which were having zero effect. I know Wendy was yelling suggestions at me, but I have no idea what they were – I couldn’t hear her clearly over the wind whistling past my ears as we galloped headlong around the arena, once, twice, three times. Sometime during the second circuit, I think, I remembered Wendy’s story about a bolting horse and how sometimes it’s better just to go with it, but I only had one foot in a stirrup and with each turn at the short ends I could feel myself tipping more and more to the left. I didn’t have it in me to just go with it but damn it, I was NOT going to fall off this horse! Finally Tigger started to slow down about halfway through the fourth go-round, coming to a trot at the short end, and we stopped in front of Wendy. Wendy thinks it’s because I started talking to him nicely (a suggestion she made during the third circuit that I didn’t hear). If I did that, I don’t remember it. I think he just got tired. It was hot that day. I got down, legs shaking, and we talked for a few minutes while Tigger and I both recovered. Under the assumption that he didn’t have anything left in the tank and the sure knowledge that I was most certainly NOT going to swat him again, I got back on and we jumped a couple courses before the lesson ended. THEN Wendy told me she’s noticed over the years that something bad always happens at last lessons. She says it’s usually a fall, but a bolting horse certainly counts. She thinks she’s cursed. I’m just glad she didn’t tell me that up front. She also said she’s proud of me for how I handled it, which is nice to hear since it was freakin’ TERRIFYING while it was going on. Now I think I could handle it better – I’d like to have time to enjoy going that fast.
Her take on it: I have the unique distinction of flying around the arena on a plane one day and flying around the arena on a horse the next.