Friday, May 13, 2016


I don't remember getting hurt. I just remember that after the horse ran away everything that followed was a calm and certain reaction. When the saddle was put away, Merlin brushed and fed, and put out in the pasture - I remember rubbing my left elbow with my right hand and wondering what happened? He must have been bumped into me when he side-jumped in fear from the saddle bags he saw on the ground. I thought I moved out of the way fast enough? Apparently not. When a thousand pound of agita wants to teleport and your elbow is in the way - it gets hit. Now, just a few days later, it is hard to move my left arm and there is a hot bruise that I am pretty sure will cover most of the real estate beside my elbow and upper arm. Nothing is broken, but it really smarts.

Merlin was tried loosely to his hitching post outside. I had secured his saddle and breast collar, and slung the same saddle bags we have used for years over his rear end. His bridle wasn't on yet, just his halter. We were on our way to the neighbors to deliver eggs and goat cheese, a home warming gift. I realized his saddle bags needed some straps of leather to secure them to the saddle so I stepped inside to get them. I found a long piece of leather a minute later. I cut it in half for each side of the horse. Three minutes later I was outside again. Merlin was gone.

Well, shit.

When things go down my usual anxiety-ridden, over-thinking, brain changes. It turns over like my F150's engine, growling quick. Damnit, the only time I'm not worried is when something bad happens. I stay up worried about money, love and death in a safe little bed, but when things go down I shift gears and focus. I like it when all you can do is react and solve a problem; when anxiety is useless. I think the apocalypse would be the only scenario I could actually relax in.

I called out Merlin's name. Nothing. I checked his pasture, the yard, the neighbor's yard. No sign of the horse. All that was left were the saddle bags, a trampled mess on the ground. Clearly they had slid off and that spooked him enough to bolt. I was just so grateful he wasn't in his bridle. If his bit or reins got caught in something it could mean real panic and even injury. I grabbed some grain in a bucket and set out for the same trail we have ridden hundreds of times. If he was scared maybe the repeated trail ride would be his go-to route. About a 1/4 mile from the farm, I found him eating grass behind some rose bushes.

I grabbed his halter and walked him back to the farm. I set him back on his hitching post and showed him the saddle bags. He didn't seem to mind them. So I put them on and secured them with the straps I had found. He seemed fine with it. So I took the lead rope off the post and was going to walk him around a bit to see how he did with the attacking saddle bags, and he lost it. Soon as he noticed the weight on his but he started spinning in circles. I calmed him by standing in front of him, palm on the length of his nose, breathing deep. He slowed. I took off the saddle bags and threw them over my shoulder. "Come on, you big baby. We'll walk together and I'll carry the goods."

And so we did. We walked as a team, me singing to him quietly. I watched his ears flicker and listen, felt his body calm and breathing return to normal. The neighbors weren't home, so I set the carton and jar on the porch and we walked home.

The plan was to ride, not to catch and walk a horse like a dog. So we returned to the driveway and I set the bags on the grass. I found my stick and flag, used for ground work. I wanted to see if he was with me or still anxious. I should have put the saddle bags inside, because soon as the flag moved him in their direction he did that insanely fast side-step that took out my elbow, I guess. It was the only time we made physical contact of any import.

I put the bags inside. We tried again. And we ended the day with a short trail ride just to the place he ran to and back home. Stick to the plan, ride the horse. If he realized that running away, acting up, freaking out, and being scared ended with that saddle never being used it would leave a wrinkle in his brain I didn't want. And if I was too scared to get on a horse, then I would stop riding them. Neither would do. Maybe you would have done differently. You weren't there.

And so after that short ride we came home, he was seen to, and I rubbed that elbow. Now I am worried I'll die in my sleep from internal bleeding. First woman to die from a bruise caused by accidental equine shoving. Where's my apocalypse?


Blogger Unknown said...

I love this story. Never a dull moment at Cold Antler. Thanks.

May 13, 2016 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger sarah e blog said...

Get some arnica on that elbow. Or some comfrey calendula. Even sheperds purse that grows wild near you will work

May 13, 2016 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Chelsea Tarver said...

Ouch! Is the swelling that bad that you would worry about bleeding out? keep RICEing it and odds, are you'll be fine (like you don't know that, but it's nice to hear sometimes when you're in the spin).

May 13, 2016 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Oh Jenna, I'm right there with you! At least you've still got your sense of humor, and way to go getting your ride in despite the hoopla!

May 13, 2016 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have a vet look at Merlin's lower back area. And yes, I know you won't post this, but at least think about that he might have something sore there.

May 13, 2016 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger admin said...

Horses...they're huge--working with them inevitably leads to something eventually no matter what. I'm still dealing with having my knee stepped on three years ago in a weird, unpreventable accident. Instead of going in to have it checked I just put huge bags of ice on it for almost a month and sat as much as possible. Then I learned about compression fractures sometimes resulting in the need for amputation and it kind of freaked me out, but I still have my leg. Best of luck with the elbow and saddle bags next time. If you want I have a recipe for a drink especially concocted to dull the pain of such injuries.

May 14, 2016 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I wonder what he's telling you. (horse whisperer, I'm not.)

May 14, 2016 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Lara, man don't mention amputation! The arm hurts half as much and movement is back to almost a 100%.

May 14, 2016 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger admin said...

Sorry ;-)!

May 14, 2016 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger admin said...

...don't think you have to worry if it's almost back to normal :-) couldn't help myself. Think of it as a notch earned.

May 14, 2016 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Pilates Paula said...

Do you have any yarrow up around the house? Make a tea with a handful and soak the elbow a couple times, it'll break up the bruising.

May 15, 2016 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Oh no, that doesn't sound like Merlin at all! I agree with Johollister, he might be a little sore on his back. You can check that yourself pretty easily by doing a little test with your fingers that you can find on the internet "Horse Check Sore Back". Is he eating a lot of grain? Perhaps he's just slightly out of whack nutritionally. This happened with my horse, and he ended up being deficient in magnesium. A small scoop of magnesium a day and a week later he was back to his old self.

Good for you to work him on the ground, and then end with a short ride! That's so brave! I'm glad to hear your elbow is doing much better.

May 16, 2016 at 9:31 AM  

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