It was my fault, the fall. I was feeling invincible after an 8 mile run. It was sunny, 72-degrees, I wanted nothing more than to come home, change into riding clothes and boots and ride that beast up the mountain. I wanted to feel like a hero after feeling so out of control and scared all week. To take in the view of the valley I just explored on foot from the back of my horse. So I got Merlin out of the pasture, groomed him, didn't take the time to do any ground work and I didn't use any bug spray on him. I had not even bought bug spray yet this year. The bugs weren't an issue yet.
But the heat had finally brought out the first hatches and while they weren't bad in the woods at the base of the mountain they were bad up in the open grassy places we ride. Merlin wanted to graze on the better grass where the sun shined. I wanted to ride. I could tell I should have done ground work, too late though, and we rode on.
In another place and in another time I'll tell the whole story, like if we meet up for drinks at the Argyle Brewing Company, but the summary is that I was asking him to go on new trails, with bugs bothering him, without ground work, in a saddle that had too loose a girth. All dumb mistakes I had made before, but what can I say. I ran far and felt strong. He felt strong too, and kicked up high as he loped up a muddy trail and there was no purchase on the sliding saddle.
I got his reins, lead him to a place I could tie him up, and adjusted the girth. I got right back on him. He tried the bucking again and I said some very choice words and stayed on. I rode him home. He was wild and wanted to sprint. I laughed thinking how a 20 year old horse is not exactly an oldster just yet. He bitched and wanted to take off but I kept him calm. I sang to him the only song I knew in Gaelic, slowly and with calm confidence. Whatever part of me that was supposed to be shaken and scared was in a drawer somewhere else.
That night I finished chores with the sheepdogs running around, grabbed a long hot shower, and then got gussied up for the brewery. I always take Gibson, who is welcome most civilized places. I enjoyed a night of hard cider and new brews and talked for hours with good friends. It was packed, and headed home when the crowd size beat the enjoyment size. I knew I'd wake up sore.
I was too tired to hear the bear. That story in the morning...