Friday, November 30, 2012

The Run Away

Today I found myself on a run away Laredo.  One moment we were trotting a nice figure eight, and then next moment we were blazing down the strip and off into the soybean field in a full on gallop.

It is funny when these things happen. Time slows down and you can see the ground moving by at the same speed it does when you are walking, and at the same time changes can happen so fast they don't have time to register.  It was early in our ride when Laredo and I were trotting some nice figure eights.  There was one spot in the pattern that he was really stuck in, we had just made a beautiful turn and I let him stop and rest for a few moments.  We were facing up the strip, and I guess he did not see that Robin and Steen were taking a slow walk down the drainage.  I asked him to move out at the trot again.  It was smooth, and we had no trouble, but then when we turned and faced down the strip, Laredo saw Steen moving away from him, and he panicked.
Dramatic re-enactment; I didn't have the camera out during the run away.
His head came up, his body stiffened, and he immediately jumped into a fast lope.  He is three, and he changes gaits on his own from time to time.  Sometimes we shut him down immediately, and sometimes we give him a second to think and then correct him.  Lately we've been employing the latter a little more frequently.  Today I gave him a second, and in that second he had taken off into the fastest gallop I've ever ridden.  It was fast enough that I didn't want to yank him around as I worried he'd fall over.

So I went with him.  I knew he was going to dive hard for the drainage.  It has a moderately steep hill at the top, and I really didn't want to go down it.  When he was about to turn I checked him pretty hard with one rein.  It prevented him from going down the drainage, but he just turned left into the soybean field and started galloping even faster.  It was still downhill, but not as steep as the drainage.

I was feeling very stuck, and I had a little pressure on the left rein still.  I released that and tried to ride with him.  We turned left to intersect the strip and long pile of dirt from where they have been digging drainages.  I grabbed the horn and Laredo jumped over it.

Thankfully there was a somewhat steep rise on the other side of the drainage.  Laredo slowed a little, and I was able to get some order to my reins and pulled him into a nice stop.  He sat huffin and puffin for quite a few moments.  I'm not sure he even fully realized what he had done.

I was surprised how relaxed I felt afterwards.  I was also surprised how secure my seat felt during the whole run away.  Two years ago I had a bad fall in that same field when Bear and Steen got spooked by another horse.  I didn't get very far before I toppled off the left side and hit my shoulder.  I was convinced I would have the same kind of fall today, but I never lost my balance.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  We worked on some trotting, we did the routine, we walked up and down the strip and drainage.  Laredo was attentive and tired.  He has not gotten a lot of exercise in the last two weeks, and I'm sure that was one of the hardest intervals he has ever done.  Certainly the hardest with a rider.

These are always scary things to have happen, and while you never want to actually go through them, it is amazing how much you can learn from them.  I am just thrilled that in the last two years I've learned enough that I have some good enough instincts to carry me through these moments.  And next time I won't give Laredo that extra second.

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