Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emergency Dismount

This past weekend, I survived my first true emergency dismount.  I was bareback and bridle-less and Cricket became a runaway . . . at the walk.  She was crossing the gravel road as I planned my dismount but as soon as she got off the gravel, she broke into a trot.  I vaulted off and landed on my feet.  Unfortunately, I was facing the wrong way and Cricket's momentum pulled me backwards and I softly toppled to the ground.

Since this event, I've been reflecting on a few things.

It didn't scare me.  At all.  It was my choice to get off.  The power of that decision preserved my confidence.  Later that day, I haltered her and rode her from the barn back to her turnout field.

I've also thought about when the runaway actually started.  Most people hear "runaway" and picture a horse at a full gallop and a rider hanging on for dear life.  In reality, a runaway occurs when your horse disconnects from your leadership.  When you don't control the brakes, it's a runaway.  But when you don't control the accelerator, it's also a runaway.  A horse can runaway in one step.  If you fix all the little runaways, you never get to the big one.

So when did Cricket runaway?  Honestly, before I ever go on her.  I asked her to pick me up at the mounting block and she didn't.  I had to coax her with the stick.  I thought, "Well, I'm just going to sit on her while she grazes.  We'll be fine."  I failed to establish my leadership and since nature abhors a void, someone had to step up.  It doesn't take much for Cricket to take over.

My last thought was about the actual emergency dismount.  I have never vaulted off a moving horse.  Ever.  I've become very fluid in my bareback dismount and it was that muscle memory that saved me on Saturday.  I also practice landing on soft knees and ankles, sinking further than necessary to ensure the shock is absorbed throughout my body.  It was that softness that allowed me to tumble backwards and prevent injury.

Since I often ride bareback in the winter, I think this is an excellent time to improve my emergency dismount.  I want to be able to vault off Cricket, from the walk or trot, and land safely on my feet.  I'm going to start at the halt so as to retrain myself to twist my hips and land facing the same direction as my horse.  When that gets good, we'll put it in motion.

As weird as it might sound, this is one of my best moments in my horsemanship journey.  I vaulted off a moving animal, landed on my feet and was just fine.  A year ago, I'd have fallen off, gotten hurt and taken months to rebuild my confidence.


Tina said...

This is a great post full of savvy. Truly. Proud of you, girl! And you've inspired me to practice my EDm. I've never done it because it hurts me to jump off from that height and I just don't like it. But we all have to do things we don't like sometimes, right? Thanks for continuing to be so inspiring!

ps~When you get it good from the trot, I'd love to see a video!

Lisa said...

Thanks, Tina. I will definitely video. Maybe the whole process so I can have a blooper reel, so to speak.