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Horses Don't Have Brakes
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(Another belated Blog entry, sorry. This one dates back to the Labour Day Long Weekend.)
Paul on Basalt
So, I've done many things in my life. Horse-riding is not one of them. I am however involved with a mad keen, pony crazy lass called Deb. Since she is now horseless, I thought a long weekend that included a bit of a horse ride might be fun for her. And heck, I'll try anything once.

So this is that once :-)

We rocked up at a trail riding place near Mount Beauty, for a pleasant afternoon's horse riding. I was the only guy there who was a visitor (although one of the riding staff was came with us was a chap). The rest of the riders seemed to be rake-thin twelve year old girls and their mothers! Oh, and Deb of course.

Being the biggest person there, they gave me the biggest horse they had, a half Percheron called Basalt. Lovely horse, big and docile. Percherons are, by the way, one of the biggest horses in the world. Basalt is 17.5 hands at the shoulder, which makes his shoulder 1.8 metres from the ground!

So we went off for a ride. Trail riding horses are trained to follow one another in a line, and Basalt did just that.
Paul on Basalt
I was OK on said huge horse most of the time - so long as we were walking. At one point we started to trot a little (this is the next gear up from a walk), and I started bouncing around in the saddle in all directions! The trick is apparently to stand a little in your stirrups and bounce in rhythm with the horse's gait. I never got the hang of this, and felt like I was about to slip off to one side!

Actually, I never felt fully in control of Basalt. There's some odd coordination involved, where one pulls the reigns one way, and kicks the horse on the other side to make it go in a certain direction. Never quite got the hang of this. There's also a subtle level of tension you're supposed to have on the reigns - too much and the pony stops, to little and you can't control him. Never got the hang of that either. So I pretty much hoped that Basalt, all thousand kilos of him, would be a good horse and follow all the other ponies...

Anyway, we carried on, and turned back after about an hour of riding. Most of the way back to the horse "ranch", we crossed a road. Between the road and the fence was a row of trees, and a wide area of grass perfect for riding on. This is where it all started to go wrong....

We were separated from a group of the other horses by about twenty or thirty metres. Horses like to stick together, so Basalt chose this moment to speed up! I felt like he was going faster than he'd gone all day (Deb insists he was barely trotting). Horses have incredible acceleration - Basalt went from walking to really fast in about three strides.

Now this would have been OK except for two things. One, I wasn't holding the reigns properly, so I couldn't slow him down. And two, Basalt was heading straight for a tree! I yelled "Whoa! Whoa!" a great deal, and tried to yank on the reigns. But it was too late, about three seconds after taking off, Basalt skirted around the tree, and I clipped it with my face and shoulder and tumbled out of the saddle!

Deb tells me Basalt turned around to look at me on the ground like "what are YOU doing down there?", then took to eating some tasty grass...!

I lay on my back for a few moments, then decided I hadn't broken anything. I did have searing pain in my shoulder and back, and I had a leaf in my mouth, but I was otherwise OK. I flipped myself over and slowly got up. The trail riding guy who was out with us came over and checked me out.
Paul after Horse Fall
Here's me standing up. Notice that I'm delighted that Deb is still taking pictures - hence the rude gestures! Basalt is just standing about, and the guy from the horse place is holding my helmet and it's visor - it came off! As did my glasses, which luckily I located before anyone stood on them.

Deb called me a big baby for not getting back on the horse. Then she saw my bruises:
Pauls Bruising
That's right were I hit the tree! Glad I was wearing a helmet.

Needless to say, this is like to be my first and last horse ride. Deb is still one of those mad-keen horse women, but she'll be on her own! And she delighted in telling me the number of times she'd fallen of a horse... I suspect a lithe young woman falls a lot less hard than a 39 year old man who's into weight lifting :-)
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Wow, stunning bruise!!!!
First (and only) time I got on a horse, my instinct was to find a seatbelt :-) I failed, so haven't been on a horse since.

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