Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crazy Pinto Filly Wrecks, Part III - Chapter 2

Continuing, here in Chapter 2, my previous post, Crazy Pinto Filly Wrecks, Part III - Chapter 1.

It's amazing to me how fast we were going down that track. I can feel it all these years later, feel how I was falling with each stride, that my body could not keep up with her motion. From my standing position, I would fall toward the saddle again and again, little half-second drops during which my feet would loosen in the stirrups and I would dangle, midair, above the surging filly.

She ran full out with her head frozen against the sky, hiding somewhere within her body, out of her mind.

I can't recall how much distance remained between us and that sway- backed cable when I realized that the crazy pinto filly wouldn't see it. She was looking skyward, I was looking down the line. A still picture flashed in my mind as if from the future, the aftermath of what lay ahead. We would hit that wire, flip high, then scrape some number of feet into an oncoming car, if not land on top of one. A dead or dying horse, other innocent victims, broken limbs, me in terrible trouble with my parents, to be unforgiven forever by the trusting farm boy who owned the filly.

It's not quite fear that I felt in that moment, but more the rush of adrenaline that enables people to lift cars off of someone pinned underneath. It was like the accident had already happened and I was desperate to prevent further damage. The crazy pinto filly was not my partner, though, could not be. I had to figure it out by myself.

There's a strange roominess in seconds when you can't believe what's happening. In that space of shock I was casting about for ideas, but I wasn't a trained rider. Tools I might use today were unknown to me then. Out of that odd, panic calm, it came to me that I would have to bring the filly down, get her off her feet and down to the ground. I would have to throw me and take her with.

To the left of the track, I could see the back of the old roadhouse, with space behind for a few cars to park. At the edge of the parking lot stood a low cinderblock storage shed, closer to the tracks. To the right of the track was a deep shoulder that dropped off sharp into a thick woods. I knew we couldn't make that drop-off and land intact. I looked back to the left.

This is true: I think there was a second I thought to cry or scream out for help (to nothing, no one), but the sight of a car passing around the curve and away set me straight. I had to figure it out by myself.

I could say we were 50 yards away, or 50 feet away, but I can't see it like that. All I know is that suddenly the moment opened. Standing in the stirrups, I took up more rein. My hands were right there at the bit, and I had to bend my torso to avoid the filly's head. I bent to the left, I yanked the left rein to the side, and then I threw my weight to the left, heavy, heavy, into the left stirrup. Under me, I felt the filly lose her balance. It seemed like she was going down, but somehow she launched into a high, awkward jump, her half-falling momentum carrying us off the track and into space. We crashed into the back of that storage shed, or I did after she lurched, fighting to regain her feet, and swerved off the right edge of the shed. I, hanging to the left, met the cinderblock wall head on.  ...remember landing on my back and watching her left hind hoof roll off my reinless right hand.

The filly wound up standing near the back of the tavern, under a sagging porch overhang, wild-eyed and blowing, but standing. I want to say her bridle was gone, but it couldn't have been. 

Ego. I remember hearing the sound of voices. They might have been coming from inside the bar or around the front. The thought of certain embarrassment compelled me to my feet. I was unsteady in getting to the filly, but I tried to hurry.

I don't think about how we got home, but obviously we did. I'm sure I didn't get on her, though. The barn was just across the woods, up the street from that bar, so I must have led her back.

This wreck changed things for me and the crazy pinto filly. It's really dumb to say this, but that's when I think I first knew she was unhappy. Not to have said it in words like that back then, but also trying not to say it with words that come out of all I've learned about horses since then. I had a sense of the filly after this wreck that showed me, finally, that she was not something that existed just for me.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

The birth of horsemanship?!

Looking forward to the next installment :)

Annette said...

I was holding my breath while reading that. Scary!!!

June said...


June said...

I guess a horse has to feel very lonely and afraid to run like that, without regard for its own safety. Mostly (not always) the bolting horses I used to ride were: "Hah! Weakling aboard! We can go home the fast way!"

Either way, though, there's a disconnect between horse and rider.

Wolfie said...

Very scary! You were both lucky that you could walk back to the barn.

Sue M said...

I loved this post . . .and the one before this. Those moments that you remember, frozen in time, sometimes in that surreal slow motion are the ones that change something inside forever. Sometimes the change is nearly imperceptible and sometimes is it's like being hit with a ton of bricks.

Rising Rainbow said...

I know all too well those life in slow motion kind of moments. You wish you have more power than you do but you have to get some from somewhere and the only possible place is from inside. Life hangs in the balance and you give it all you've got. Those moments change us forever. Whether it's in a good way or not is of our own choosing.

I'm glad you both survived that wreck. It could have been so bad. You saved yourself, saved your horse and learned something productive. That's what I'd call one helluva day.

I feel sad for this filly. Did you ever learn the story behind her fear?