Parades and Ditches
I went home for the weekend for the Forest Festival. My band was invited to be the college exhibition band in the Grand Feature Parade and the marching band competition. I was understandably excited and just as understandably nervous. It had been five years since I marched that parade. I remember how long and hot it was back then. The difference now? I was in a hell of a lot better shape back then. It's something I'm working on (another slow but successful process), but I'm still not where I was back then. Thankfully, we didn't have to wear uniforms this year as they're not in yet. Instead, we wore our gold band T-shirts, nice jeans, and marching shoes. Something else I'm thankful of? The piccolo is a very light instrument. :)
We pulled the parade off without much of a hitch. I was ready to fall over and die because of how hot I was by the end, but I survived and was proud. The show went well too. It was our first official performance on a high school field. This meant that we were guiding to high school hashes rather than college hashes - something that is more difficult than one would think. We'd practiced with them painted onto our own field, but our hashes were also painted on that field, so we were all a bit apprehensive about marching with strictly only high school hashes. But we pulled that off too, way better than any of us expected to.
After the show was over, I was dead. Seriously, I wanted nothing more than a drink and a bed. I had wanted to stay and watch the other bands, but I just couldn't do it. One of my best friends from home, Chelsea, met up with me after we finished, and we walked over to my family's new house to visit with my mom and brothers for a bit before walking back to Chels's car and heading to the store for snacks and back to her house to chill out for the night.
At 6:30 on Sunday morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed (err...off the couch) to get dressed and head out to the barn for an early morning ride. It was still foggy when we got there, but our horses were happy to see us. My boy came right over. I grabbed his halter, went to the field, and as I was turning back around after closing the gate, he was already walking over to me.
Chels and I decided to switch saddles because I'm buying a new English one from a friend, and Chels is thinking about buying my treeless one from me and wanted to try it out. So she used it, and I rode Western for the day, something that saved my ass from being seriously injured later on. I'm sad to say it, but I know if I'd been riding English, I would have been in a lot more trouble than I ended up in.
Both horses behaved perfectly all morning, through tacking up and warming up and heading out. They were both eager to get out and get going and seemed to enjoy being out on a leisurely morning ride. For the first time, it seemed like Chels and I might have a normal ride. Everyone was being good, we were all relaxed, the dogs were with us and having fun, and everything just seemed perfect. And it stayed that way.
The trees are changing majorly here. Most have lost a lot of their leaves by now, but that weekend, they were in full color and still had them. We got a lot of gorgeous pictures. Chelsea's are better than mine, because she has a really nice camera that she brought with her for the first time. She's always afraid to take it for fear of it being broken, but everything had gone so well initially that she decided it would be okay to try it as long as we were careful. And we were.
A few miles up the road from the farm, the dogs flushed a huge coyote out of the woods. We didn't even realize it wasn't one of our dogs at first. They had all dove headfirst down over the hill after something a few minutes earlier, and we just assumed they were on their way back up. Then we realized that it was bigger than our dogs and not at all built the same. It was no matter though. It didn't even acknowledge our presence. It just hopped up over the hill onto the road and took off gracefully up the road ahead of us. Then our dogs came barreling up onto the road after it, and they were gone for a bit.
A few minutes after this happened, everything was still going well. Until a couple of ATVs flew around the turn behind us. We got off to the side of the road to let them pass slowly and keep our horses under control. Only they didn't really slow down. As soon as he heard them, Orion tensed up and began shaking. He was scared but keeping it under control...until he turned his head slightly and saw them, at which point his eyes got huge and before I could react, he bucked and whirled in an attempt to bolt. The ATVs still didn't slow down, even though they had to have been able to see it all happen. When he whirled, he slipped, and his front half ended up in the ditch, half-standing, with his hindquarters still up on the road, and his head, neck, and right shoulder, along with me, plastered against the rocky hillside. My right leg was between his side and the hill, and my right shoulder, side and elbow got slammed into the rocks. Thank God I was wearing a
helmet, but somehow I didn't hit my head. I think it was because I was leaning forward so much in my attempt to stay in the saddle, because I was partway out of it. I was hanging onto mane, reins, and pommel trying to yank myself back on.
The ATVs didn't slow until they were right beside of us, at which point they stopped, left their engines running, and stared at me in apparent horror at what had happened up until that point. Chelsea was barely keeping Kit under control and screamed some expletives at them and told them to leave. So they gunned their engines and flew away. That was the last straw for Orion, and as soon as they gunned the engines, he jumped out of the ditch, jumping out from under me in the process, and went bucking up the road. I hit the ground and immediately climbed out of the ditch.
There was so much adrenaline flowing by that time that I was shaking and felt like I was going to throw up. My elbow was killing me. It hurt so badly at first that I really thought I had broken my arm. My whole right side felt beaten up, and I had thorns stuck all over my palms and fingers because there was apparently a thorny bush in the damn ditch, and I had the great luck to fall straight into it. If I hadn't caught myself with my hands I probably would ended up with a face full of thorns. (Bright side, I guess? At least that didn't happen.)
Regardless, I immediately began cussing the assholes that caused everything, because while Chelsea told them to get their vehicles away, they really went away and didn't even make sure I was okay. If Orion had slipped and not made it out of that ditch on his first try like he did, he would have come back down on top of me, because as soon as he lunged, I was down.
After I assured Chels that I was okay, she went to catch Orion, which she had to use treats to do because he was so out of his mind with fear, he was terrified of everything. Except, apparently, food. While she did that, I sat down to get myself under control and keep from getting sick. I pulled the thorns out of my hands and then got up and went to find them, picking up Chelsea's trail bag on the way. It had come off when Orion bucked and ran away from everything.
When I found them up the road around a turn, Orion saw me and immediately came to me and shoved his face into my chest and just stood there. He was still shaky and scared, but he seemed okay other than that. With that knowledge, I was just happy that we were both okay and that he didn't appear to be mad or upset with me for falling and "leaving" him when he was scared. He stuck to me like glue after that. We had to walk back because when he had bucked after I fell, he apparently stepped on his reins and snapped them. One side was completely torn away from the bit, and there was no way to really rig it. Thankfully, I had kept his lead rope attached to the saddle, so I still had something substantial to lead him with.
It was a scary experience, but the good thing is that no one was too seriously injured. I was more worried about Orion than myself the whole time, but he is fine. That happened two weeks ago. All of my aches and pains have pretty much gone away with the exception of my shoulder, elbow, and occasionally my wrist. The massive bruise I had on my elbow is almost gone now, but I still can't rest weight on it. Moving my shoulder a certain way still hurts pretty bad. And my wrist only twinges occasionally. But they all do seem to be getting better - it's just very slow.