I’ve heard it said that the size of a wreck is directly proportional to the number of people watching. Smokey set out to prove that theory in front of well over a hundred people at Meridian Riding Club on Sunday, with me serving as the token crash test dummy. The event was Keyhole, which consists of a chalk outline on the ground in the shape of a keyhole. The object is to cross the start/finish line, enter the keyhole at the narrow end, turn around in the circle, and ride back to the start/finish line.
Horses do not like to step on anything that, to them, provides unsure footing. See this post for more background. Chalk is one such surface that Smokey finds suspect. We often sail, quite literally, across the start/finish line. We’ve run keyhole before, however, without incident, so I wasn’t concerned.
Getting the green light, we started off at close to a run. Halfway down the course, noting that we were off to the right, I applied gentle leg pressure to nudge Smokey to the left. Closing in on the target, all was well. Then Smokey spotted the chalk outline, and in the bat of an eyelash, he dropped his head to look at this new found danger, and jumped to the right.
In the next instant I was lying in the dirt on my back. Good and fine, with one exception. My left foot was caught in the stirrup. Referring back to the paragraph regarding unsure footing, it should be noted that humans also represent said footing. In the effort to avoid stepping on me, Smokey kept moving away. Except that I kept following. So he kept moving.
The functional purpose behind cowboy boots, so I’ve been told, is to allow you foot to slide out in just such an event. Paint me skeptical. As I was touring the arena, trying to wiggle my foot free, the only thought in my head was “why isn’t this damn boot coming off?”
Being rather occupied at the time, I was completely unaware of the fact that, over in the other lane, the horse had been spooked by the show Smokey and I were putting on. He set to rearing and bucking, sending the other rider into the dirt as well. Luckily she was unharmed.
Fortunately, Smokey was only trotting, not running. After what seemed an eternity, my boot broke free of the stirrup. Spitting out dirt, I leaped to my feet, and started walking over to Smokey. I heard shouts of “are you all right?” “Well, of course, why wouldn’t I be?” I thought. Then it occurred to me that things may have appeared different from a spectator’s point of view. I gave everyone the thumbs up.
Taking Smokey’s reins, I looked him in the eye and quietly asked “what was that all about?” His look seemed to say “I have no idea what you’re talking about”. Mounting back up, I was asked if I wanted a re-ride. Absolutely! We only trotted to the keyhole this time around, however. Once inside the key, we turned, and I kicked him into a run for the trip home.
We, of course, sailed over the finish line, giving everyone a good laugh.