Only fools on horses

Pictorialist B&W photo of a cowboy falling off a horse at a rodeo.


Whilst sat on the train listening to my neck grunt and grind every time I move my head to the left or right and wincing each time I lift my left arm I start reflecting on what actually happened on ‘Good’ Friday and why I have been out of horsey action the last few weeks.


Essentially it was the combination of a Jager bomb hangover, a Bailey’s coffee (to combat said hangover) and a rather flighty and unforgiving mare (at the best of times).


Turn of events went something like this:


1. Dragged self to yard with full intentions not to ride as knew I wasn’t safe to attempt being in control of a live animal (especially a large live animal that has a tendency to take full advantage of any second I do not have my full wits or physical ability about me)

2. Sat in tack room nursing tiredness and hangover and had my rubber arm twisted to partake in Baileys coffee round (seemed like a very good idea at the time)

3. Decided (after caffeine and alcohol fix) that riding was most definitely now the best idea ever *grabbed tack and exited tack room abound with new found energy and enthusiasm*

4. Approached stable, Millie actually rolled her eyes at me (as if to say “look at the state of you, if I play it right I can get myself a nice little 2 week holiday’)

5. Tacked up, acutely aware I was a little fuzzy around the edges and the nagging feeling that maybe lunging was a better idea returned.

6. Ignored gut instinct and doubtful voices. I was tacked up and ready to go! A nice sedate schooling session would undoubtedly blow away any remnants of a hangover (little did I know in 5 minutes my hangover would be a distant memory and the least of my problems-in fact memory altogether became distant)

7. Led Millie the mule to the school, so far so good (although I must point out as I went through the gate the last words I muttered to the other person in the school were “I’m not sure this is a good idea”. It would become apparent I couldn’t have been more right about anything)

8. Played tug of war trying to get horse towards mounting block.

9. Got mounting block, hopped up onto block, horse moved 3 foot backwards.

10. Hopped off, moved mounting block 3 foot backwards.

11. Repeated the above 3 times.

12. Patience wearing thin (Millie and me often play this game and after a few musical mounting block moves she gives in, stands perfectly still, I jump on, she gets treat, all good)

13. Attempt 5 and hurrah, stillness, took up reins, still stillness, hopped up onto block, still stillness. All going well until….

14. Put left foot in stirrup, put weight into left foot, go to take right foot off block, horse swings quarters away from block and I am in a very vulnerable situation. The right choice (and the choice I woulda, shoulda, coulda made had I been in correct thinking mode) would be to quickly take foot out of stirrup and start all over again.

15. I didn’t make the right choice and the above didn’t happen. I instead decided to swing my right leg over and completely misjudged the height of her rump (admittedly not helped by her still moving away from me).

16. Gave said rump a rather hefty boot as I attempted to swing leg over.

17. Knew as soon as boot met rump that she wasn’t going to go “ouch that was uncomfortable but I know you didn’t mean it so I’ll forgive you and stand still anyway”

18. Oh no, instead I felt a whole hunk of 16hh horse rise underneath me with an almighty grunt, saw ground and sky rapidly swap places as I was catapulted somersaulting into the air and landed head first with an almighty thud (although don’t actually remember landing, just grateful it was soft landing and away from angry hooves)

19. Next thing I know I am back on board (can’t remember getting up or getting back on…)

20. Feeling very vague wandering around the school and wondering what all the letters are that are placed randomly about the place, I was struggling to spell anything with AVKESHCMRBP & F!

21. Tried desperately to remember my name, horses name

and what I had done the night before (could not even remember indulging in the Jager bombs)

22. Decided I was probably safer on the ground so got off, called for help and spent the rest of the evening in A&E!

23. Went home from A&E and wrote FOR SALE advert.

24. Never posted FOR SALE advert (I’m obviously addicted to the pain)


Although afterwards I felt deflated and defeated (emotions I have become rather intimate with since owning Millie), the overwhelming feeling I had wasn’t fear or anger but pure disappointed (mainly in myself). Disappointed we had gone back to square one with the mounting issue, disappointed I had made the wrong decision about riding that day, disappointed I was feeling contempt towards Millie again after being very happy with her over the last few months and just generally disappointed I had forced us to take a break when things had (for once) been going well and I was starting to feel that lovely warm fuzzy, unfamiliar feeling of…..progress.


I think it just reiterated that I can never take Millie’s calmness and good nature for granted or rest on my laurels with her. Millie is unforgiving, she doesn’t allow mistakes and human error to go unnoticed and as soon as you start to relax around her she will make it very apparent that she is not, and I don’t think ever will be a predictable, bomb proof neddy you can faff around and afford yourself to make mistakes in front of.  She will, always, be quicker than me. She will, always, (and without apology), take pleasure from seeing me fail and she will, always, be just one step ahead of me.


Whilst I must admit that I (mostly) have learnt to embrace and enjoy the challenging side of Millie ownership (and she has without doubt taught me more about horse psychology and my own behaviour than any other horse) there are just some days I would like a horse that will let me be a little clumsy around them, allow me to take a little longer to mount, not answer every question with ‘why should I?’ and not jump out of it’s skin every time a pheasant struts past.


I wholeheartedly know if Millie was to swap places with a well behaved, predictable, safe as houses pony *daydreams a little bit* that I would become frustrated and bored, and I know I wouldn’t get the same ‘this is the best feeling in the world’ feeling I get when Millie decides to play ball and does her little floaty trot, or the same butterflies I feel when I look through her little pointy ears when we are out hacking. But I would be able to go and have a night out with my friends without being hospitalised the next day and that sounds pretty bloody awesome to me!


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