Tonight I rode a horse named Guinness. Much like the beer he is tall, dark and handsome. I kind of loved him. For the record, that's 5 different horses in 6 lessons. Not that I'm complaining. I like getting to know the different horses, it's giving me a chance to see what sorts of personalities I get along with and which I don't. Sometimes it's frustrating because I spend most of the lesson figuring out exactly what it is I'm sitting on, but today was not one of those days.
Guinness is a perfect gentleman, except he has a bit of a flare for practical jokes. To illustrate: I'm picking out his left hind foot when I feel a tail swish against my ear. The next thing I know, he's pooping in my general direction. Were it not for my tingling Spidey senses suggesting I move out of the way [post haste], that poop would have been directly on my head.
Anyway, we get into the ring, and we're having a pretty decent ride. I decided to ditch my gloves this week because I have to carry a crop with Guinness, and as I discovered with Tucky the Narcolept last week, crops are difficult to get a grip on when you're sporting a pair of sweaty mitts. Guinness is a little lazy, but we seem to be communicating well, and I only have to pop him a couple of times to establish myself as navigator.
Around 45 minutes into the lesson, we reach the comfort level of cantering. Cantering is entirely too much fun, but can get out of hand rather quickly. Guinness is a pretty tall guy, with long gorgeous strides, and as soon as he decides to wake up, we're clipping along at speeds I am not so secure in.
Two other riders are having a private lesson in the same arena, so traffic is a bit thick at times. One girl is probably 9, on a sort of stubborn pony. I keep hearing her yell "Trot on!" as I pass. I think they argued the entire hour. The other girl is a blonde named Mary, who looks early twenties, and seems to be a few months ahead of me in skill. She's riding a grey horse named Joy and taking beginner jumps up to maybe a foot and a half. Guinness and I are tracking to the right, and so is the 9 year old, but they're walking. Mary and Joy are cantering in the opposite direction, hitting 3 or 4 jumps on each loop.
The next thing I know, the three of us converge, with Guinness and I in the middle. Joy is apparently pretty intimidating, because she makes a nasty face at Guinness, and he veers to the right. At the same time, we're quickly approaching a pole lying on the ground, and Guinness has no idea what to do. He can't tell if I'm asking him to jump it, ram Joy head on, or fly up the pony's rear. So he throws on the brakes and trips over his own legs. I see it coming, but it's too late to hang on. I just kick my feet out of the stirrups and dive off to the right.
Tomorrow is going to hurt. Lauren (my instructor) said I fell really gracefully and practically landed on my feet. She lies, but it was nice of her to say anyway. In reality, I landed on my ass, and caught myself with my left arm. My arm is sore from my elbow to my wrist, and my back and neck feel a little jarred. Nothing bad though. It was sort of like jumping off a swing from high up when you're going really fast, and not landing it at all.
I'm kind of glad it happened. I knew I was going to get tossed eventually, and in the back of my mind I was starting to build it up into something much scarier than it was. But it really wasn't so bad. It felt like it was happening in slow motion, so I had plenty of time to react. Now I just need to learn not to land on my arms.