Thursday night we dropped in on a jumping lesson with the barn's other H/J trainer, just to try something different. There were 4 horses in the lesson. It was going really well. The trainer had us jumping an equitation course with lots of interesting questions. Besides taking a few tries to get over the mini-fence/gate thing, Fawkes was a rock star. The course started with changing diagonal over some trot poles, then a bending line (6 stride to 4 stride) with the last jump being a skinny. Next, back to trot over the gates, then a single vertical across the diagonal, followed by two bending lines up the middle. That might not make much sense, but point being, there was a lot going on so I was proud that Fawkes was listening well and being pretty brave.
Near the end of the lesson, my friend was taking her horse over the course and he kind of stalled out in front of one of the gates. Because the gate is low, he sort of tried to go over it like a cavaletti. He miscalculated and put his left hind directly down into the slats at the top of the gate. You can see the holes on the top of the gates in the picture below of Fawkes jumping them last winter.
The poor horse couldn't get his foot out and initially freaked. Fawkes clearly doesn't have the capacity to watch a horse spooking with a gate attached to his foot and lost his mind. Started flying backwards and sideways and then spinning, completely ignoring my pleas for him to calm down since he wasn't the one stuck in a freaking jump. The other horse stopped pretty quickly and stood there with his left hind raised and the jump partially dangling from his leg and partially on the ground, just waiting for someone to come help him. It was terrifying to see. His rider managed to hop off while the trainer ran over to try and free the stuck leg.
The other two horses in the ring were watching the scene, but not reacting, thankfully.
Fawkes was still flipping out but I was able to get off the still going sideways animal and get the reins over his head. I wanted to get him out of the ring and help my friend or something, but the drama was going down near the exit and Fawkes was not exactly cooperating. I was really scared that he was going to break away from me and cause the other horse to start running again so I had a death grip on the reins. The trainer had zero luck prying the board off the gate and after about 5 minutes, the horse had just had it and bolted, breaking away from his owner, dragging the gate. He and Fawkes, who are the best of friends, started screaming to each other in a panic and of course, the gelding came running our way.
He briefly got tangled with one of the other horses in the ring, his reins ensnared her crop and actually snapped it in two. The mare, bless her, wasn't scared and just body checked the frightened gelding who redirected back towards Fawkes. Somewhere in that mess, the gate FINALLY broke away from his leg. The poor thing got to Fawkes and stopped dead, heaving a big sigh. While he is scraped up, a bit swollen, and looks sore, amazingly, he seems ok.
|This guy is fine too. Thankfully.|
I did go ride this morning and take a lesson. I had no desire to jump at all, and trainer R said that was ok. So we trotted and cantered poles on the ground, and worked on transitions. Really simple stuff and I could barely get it together enough to do that. I mostly wanted to get off and go home, I just felt very sad. Fawkes was excellent, maybe a bit sluggish to the leg, but not spooky or reactive which was just what I needed. I am still not sure why I feel this way. My horse wasn't hurt, my friend's horse seems to be recovering well, no humans were injured, and I understand that freak accidents happen. I am definitely grateful at the outcome, but why is there this sadness associated with it? Very confusing. However, whether it makes sense or not, we obviously have to deal with reality. Which means taking is easy until my brain is finished processing this. Hopefully that isn't too long.
Still very, very grateful for a positive outcome to what could have been a horrible ending.