As a horse trainer I've been kicked, fallen on and thrown, which is all part of the business of taming my equine partners. Like any dangerous job it can become a head game if you let it.
During my training days I tried never to ride a horse that I couldn't read. This means for the most part most horses have patterns. The challenge is knowing how to read them to know when to back off and when to push the lesson. I started my training career later in life and being paid to do what you were meant to do is surely a blessing. But no matter how seasoned we are or how well we read these beauties, there is always room for error.
Although, Out of the Blue is a fictional piece, I have drawn from my own life experiences as a trainer to add excitement to this wonderful story. I’d like to share an excerpt from Out of the Blue. So come along with me on a little rocket ride.
Excerpt from Out of the Blue
“Everyone knows that horses sense fear, well, that is not all they sense. But for whatever reason, I was in a bad mood when I started work this one day. Not in my normal serene, Zen-like kind of place that I usually work in, and this huge mare named Caddy I was working sensed it.
“I had been given every sign not to ride that day and I chose to ignore them. I saw more than my share of blue jays that day, not to mention dreaming of them for a whole week prior to that day. I even opted not to lunge first like I normally would have. I was testing fate, so to speak. I usually always worked with someone watching and even chose to forgo that small consideration.
“After mounting and warming up at a walk, I pressed the mare into a trot to start. We didn’t even make it one revolution around the outside arena before blastoff. There was no countdown, no message from mission control; it was zero to sixty in less than three seconds.
“Houston, I think we have a problem. The big mare just went rodeo on me from one end of the arena to the other. Now, I know I did everything right from that point on. I sat back, heels down, and I thought I had her at the three quarter point when she eased up slightly. But for whatever reason, not even my cursing at her was going to stop her. The fence came up faster than it should have. I think it was the Belgian in her that turned the football field-sized arena into a little putting green.” Neil told the story so well that I could feel the excitement of the moment.
“I had already been buckling her up to the left with no effect, when she became conscious of the barrier, and at the last minute she agreed not to argue with it and cranked hard to the left while in mid-air.
I was on the edge of my seat, listening. As he spoke, he made me feel that I was right there with him.
“From the ground, I watched as she continued to pivot and buck the circumference of the arena and headed back towards me. I unwedged my helmet from between the ground and the bottom board of the fence and tried to get up slowly so as not to disturb the gravel in my ‘gitch.’ That damn mare, given a second chance to finish me off, came back around to where I lay. I was thankful to see two people come running to my aid, but I was afraid they were moving too slowly. If I had yelled for help, I didn’t think they’d have heard me over Caddy’s hooves pounding in my direction.
“Hanging from the second rung of the fence, they got to me just in time to wave her off her path. As I hobbled to the house, half-carried by my boss, I could taste the warm, salty brine drizzling from my head. His wife, who was on the phone, gave a quick ‘Call you back’ and ran to the sink for a cloth. I let her nurse my head for all of five seconds, not wanting to show weakness, and hobbled off to the bathroom to survey the mess, joking and laughing all the way, but I am sure it was nervous laughter because I knew I was banged up pretty bad.”
“My God, Neil, were you alright? Did you break anything?” The story had my heart in my throat.
“No, just my spirit, damn mare,” he said with a smile and shaking his head. “Don’t worry, I only needed a few stitches in my temple.” He paused while lifting the hair from his forehead. “That and the fact I couldn’t take a full stride for over two months. But it was the warning signs and dreams that I had put off thinking about until lately.”