The alternative title for this post is “I am going to kill Gennyral”, but I didn’t want to worry anyone. So why am I awake at 5:00am on a Sunday morning? I will get to that…
So let me just start off by saying that I expect any horse I work with to have manners. To me that is a non-negotiable. Every horse I work with has to be able to be handled by not just myself, but anyone around them and must be easy for the farrier and vet. The only horse who I have ever had a problem with is Gen. Most of the time he is a giant dog, but when he is in a mood he is a very naught pony.
Yesterday I went to do Gen after riding Lucky. It was about lunchtime. I had gone at that time specifically because right behind his field there are these cool yellow flowers blooming so I wanted a picture of him with that in the background. Gen is a very expressive guy so even though I had gone with the idea of giving him a bath in mind, I found him to be in a terrible mood so instead of torturing him since it was a touch chilly, I would just groom him. Just as we were finishing up the Barn Owner came to the barn to feed Lunch. I often end up coming at feeding time so I wasn’t too worried about it. I told her I would feed Gen later.
I brought Gen back out to his field, let him see that his lunch container was empty and walked him to the back of the field for the picture. Gen was anxious, but he was being a good boy during the walk. I got him where I wanted him and posed him up and went to take his halter off. As soon as I started to take if off Gen ripped back and took off at a full gallop to the front of his field. I was a little annoyed with him for being rude about when I was taking his halter off, but not that mad. I hadn’t given him the stand command or anything. I had stupidly assumed he would be a good boy.
So instead of getting pissy I called to Gen. Gen is ALWAYS supposed to come when he is called. He knows that. He is actually pretty good at coming when he is called, even if it is 2 minutes after being turned out he will come. Not yesterday though. He did stop pacing the front fence line and look back at me, but he didn’t come over. The Barn Owner, trying to be helpful and assuming that I dismissed Gen walked out with Gen’s lunch. I yelled up not to give it to him and made my way up to the front of the field.
Gen got a lesson on coming when I call. He was a jerk about it, but after a few minutes I had no problem with him coming over when I called. My fat retired horse is so out of shape that the gallop to the front of his field and 5 min of running around were enough to make him breath heavy and sweat. I put his halter back on to walk him around and found that I had a dragon on the line, not a horse.
Every few steps Gen would try something, from rearing, to bolting to kicking and charging at me. Needless to say I was not a happy camper at this point. I did the old racetrack trick of keeping Gen’s head with me so he couldn’t really do anything, but man did he try. When we were back in the furthest corner I had intended to do some of the Buck B stuff with him so I gave him a little extra rope so I could work with him.
Ever hear the saying, give an inch and they will take a mile? Yeah, Gen took those 4 inches and went nuts. First trying to bolt and then doing a series of leaps above the ground. When Gen was hurt in 2007 and all I could do was hand walk him this was how he acted, and I couldn’t let go because he would hurt himself even worse. I learned to just bend my knees, keep them shoulder width apart and ride it out. I have not lost Gen since before he was hurt. I am pretty damn good at hanging on if I do say so myself.
Well, yesterday the stars were not on my side. Gen literally carried on for about 90 seconds. That might not sound like a lot, but think of all the aires above ground that can happen in that span. He was pulling me out of balance by jumping backwards and aiming kicks and my head (he is the only horse I know that can literally kick out 90 degrees sideways with a leg). He was also rearing, bucking, and putting on a show. I hung on for about 89 seconds of the 90 second out burst, but when a kick came too close for comfort I leaned back and down, loosing my power stance. Gen used that opportunity to flip around to the left and bolt.
My right hand came off as the rope flew through my fingers and my left one clamped down in a fist. As the line got pulled through the hand I fought harder to keep control of Gen. He was not allowed to know that he could be free by acting like a jerk. I have a knot at the bottom of all my lead ropes and as the knot came in to contract with my fingers I felt a sharp pain. I hung on for another second, just long enough for Gen to rear up and strike out getting the rope under his leg so when he came down it pulled down sharply. The pain was too much and I let go. Gen took off, lead rope dangling behind him, to celebrate his victory. This time he stopped at the gate to his field and looked back trying to get the Barn Owners attention.
Gen is many things, but stupid is not one of them. All thoughts of lunch were gone, he wanted OUT of the field because he knew he was bad. I didn’t try to call him this time. I didn’t need to risk him running with his lead rope back towards me. As Gen’s anxiety level grew so did his above air antics. By the time I got up to him he was white eyed and gasping for breath. I took the lead rope back with my right hand and without saying anything walked forward. Gen didn’t realize he was caught so feeling the line cause him to fly back. I set to work getting him to back then if he wanted to go backwards.
We did all of the Buck exercises I could remember and after one full lap around the field Gen was starting to settle. He was so bad that first lap that I had to grab on with both hands, but my left one wasn’t working right for some reason. I didn’t give it a lot of thought though because my brain was filled with thoughts like, “I am not going to feel bad for you Gen if you end up hurting yourself because you are being stupid right now.” and “do you want to die because if you are going to kill yourself we might as well just save me the trouble of having and put you down”. Can you tell I was pissed?
By the end of our second lap Gen’s breathing was better and I could no longer ignore the pain in my hand. I went to take off Gen’s halter and he was a perfect gentleman. He could be lead without a lead rope at this point and was head down at my side. I stopped and with Gen at my side looked down at my left hand to asses the damage. My pointer finger, middle ringer, and ring finger were all painful and starting to swell, but none of my fingers were crooked. That was a good sign. I couldn’t close my hand tough. That was not such a good sign. And man it hurt. The pain was mostly from my middle finger.
I went and got a still frozen water bottle from my car and started to ice it right away. I tried sweeping the aisle with one hand and started to panic. What if something was really wrong? I had Championships in 7 days (6 now). I also have 7 weeks left of the 2012 show season, 6 weeks of which I am planning to show. I started to cry. Of course I would hurt myself now. Of course. I couldn’t even be mad at Gen because he was behaving perfectly at this point.
The whole car ride home I was freaking out. I thought about going straight to the urgent care, but decided against it. If my finger is broken, it is just a fracture, not a full break, because my finger is perfectly straight. What could they do for me that I couldn’t do for myself? They would tell me to ice it and splint it and take 6 weeks off from riding. That is just not going to happen right now. So I decided to suck it up and just go home. I texted my trainer asking if she could ride Lucky for me today knowing that I would need at least a little time out of the saddle.
It hurts though. Man does it hurt. That is why I was up at 4:30 am today. I took off the splint to re-wrap and looking at it this morning I am pretty sure that all I broke was the bone closest to the hand in my middle finger and maybe the joint above there as well. Not too bad, but why did it have to happen now! It is kind of hard to ride dressage when you can’t close your fingers…
So I am sure that some of you are going to think I am stupid for not letting Gen eat lunch when he wanted it, but if I had to do it all over again I would do it the same way. Well, almost. I would have gotten a helmet from the barn and gloves from my car since I let go with my right hand because I didn’t want rope burn. Had I had that gear on I don’t think Gen would have gotten away, and hence my finger would not be hurt. Gen cannot decide to be a jerk. Ever. What happens if he hurts himself around a meal time? Is it okay to not let the vet see him while he eats? Not in my world it is not. Horses must respect humans AT ALL TIMES. No exceptions.
Yikes. This entry has taken me an hour and a half to write because I did it one handed. Expect a lot of short posts and pictures from me this week!