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Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

Posted September 02, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

One minute I was walking; the next, I was kicked in the thigh by a 1,100 pound mare. The impact threw me back about five feet and I lay, stunned, on the ground for a moment or two. This was the first time in 18 years of working with horses that I had been kicked by one.

In the earlier parts of this blog series, we talked about why horses kick and how you can avoid getting hurt. Now I'll tell you my story!

Note: There is a photo of a somewhat nasty bruise near the bottom of this blog entry - if you don't want to see it, don't scroll to the bottom! The photo to the right was not taken at a rodeo; it was taken at Saratoga Race Course during morning workouts.

I've been riding for quite awhile, and have ridden all types of horses from ponies to quiet schoolmasters to newly broken youngsters. Growing up, I was in a 4-H horse program where as kids, we learned every aspect of horse care before moving onto an equine-based college program.

In the fall of 2008, I was working with a mare (female) horse named Mandy that was a Thoroughbred-Hanoverian cross. Thoroughbreds tend to be high-energy, while warmbloods like Hanoverians are quieter, so the combination is made for performing in sports like dressage and jumping. In fact, Mandy had been trained by an Olympic rider to compete in 3-Day Eventing.

For the most part, Mandy was a fun horse to ride. She was very well trained and tended to be quite responsive to the rider's aids, but Mandy had two big problems:

  1. She constantly tested her rider. When the rider first got on, Mandy misbehaved and only followed commands that were perfectly executed and even then, only some of the time.
  2. Even worse, when she was in heat (just like people, horses get PMS) she had a major attitude problem. Mandy not only didn't want to work, she squealed and struck out with a front hoof when anyone touched her. She kicked out at other horses. Occasionally, she would kick out with a hind hoof.

On a sunny afternoon in October, I hiked the half-mile to Mandy's pasture to collect her for our ride. I cross-tied her in the barn as usual and groomed and saddled her. Everything seemed to be normal and she showed no signs of being in heat. Then Mandy left a pile of manure in the aisle. One aspect of horse care is to leave everything neat, including the barn aisle. Using a shovel to clean up a pile of manure behind a horse is nothing unusual, so I went to the rear of the barn to collect one and then approached Mandy calmly to scoop the poop.

For some reason, Mandy wasn't too happy about that. All of a sudden, she kicked out with her left hind leg, catching me on the outside of my left thigh. The impact threw me back toward the rear barn door, which was closed. I landed on the ground – luckily, clear of the manure! The whole incident stunned me so I just laid there for a moment, catching my breath.

Horses should not be allowed to "get away" with anything, so I should have treated this like a fall and "gotten right back on". The best thing for Mandy at that moment would have been a firm ride; however, my leg was quite sore. Since it was the leg I would need to get into the saddle, I wasn't sure I could get on! I thought about it for a minute and decided no ride would be better than a potentially disastrous one, especially since I was the only one on the property at the time.

I unsaddled Mandy and walked the half-mile back to her pasture before returning to my car and driving 40 minutes home. By that time, my leg was so stiff I had to swing it out of the car with my hands; this confirmed my decision to drive 30 more minutes to the emergency room where I sat for about three hours. By then, I could not walk at all and my thigh was swollen to almost twice its normal size.

Explaining horse-related accidents at the ER is always interesting as they are always so puzzled about what you did to make a horse hurt you. X-rays revealed the leg was not broken, but the bone was certainly bruised. The doctor asked me if I had any painkillers at home. Yes, I had darvocet. He replied, "Well, I'm going to give you something stronger, because you're going to hurt a lot more than that!" I got some Percocet and crutches and went on my way.

Within a day or so, the bruise covered my thigh and the draining blood extended halfway down my calf. The Percocet didn't help at all (just made me nauseous) and I still couldn't move my leg without using my hands to do it. The leg remained so swollen that I had to wear sweatpants for about a week. I spent almost two weeks on crutches and just limped around after that because they were such an annoyance!

Almost two years later, I still have a little bit of a bruise left; there is also a small dent in my leg. On damp or rainy days, it's sore. When I run or walk for exercise, the area gets hot. Moral of the story – you never know when a horse will kick, and even if you know what you're doing, accidents can happen!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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#1

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/02/2009 12:40 AM

"Explaining horse-related accidents at the ER is always interesting as they are always so puzzled about what you did to make a horse hurt you."

I don't know doctor maybe a vetanarian can explain the feeble brain mechanics of that sturdy beast who noticed me standing behind and gave me a swift kick for good measure. (Herd animal duh!)

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#4
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/02/2009 7:11 AM

The looks of wonder in the doctors' eyes never ceases to amaze me. The best time was when a horse had smacked me in the face with its head while I was clipping the hair in its ears. My nose was broken and I had a possible concussion. I had to explain that to half a dozen people. Many of them thought I was actually cutting the animal's ears and kept saying, "I'd break your nose too!"...

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#2

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/02/2009 3:34 AM

It's lucky that bones are nice and springy!
That's one nasty mark...but I thought you said 'nasty bruise near the bottom'
I remember sliding into a tackle playing footbal (soccer) and feeling my whole left leg bend, it felt just like the way my Longbow has to bend to get the sring on. Fortunately it spang back (the ball went out for a throw...).
Del

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#3
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/02/2009 7:08 AM

Hi Del, meant the bottom of the blog entry! I also got a similar bruise during a slide tackle during American soccer. We women were not supposed to slide tackle, but often did anyway. Couldn't sit down for awhile after that one, but the bruise did not go quite as deep as the horse kick!

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#5

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/02/2009 8:51 AM

SavvyExacta, thanks for sharing your story. While horses are big, beautiful creatures, it's always important to know that they - and any animal for that matter, can always surprise you. You're very brave for being able to get yourself not only home, but further on to the hospital.

Is Mandy still at the facility where you ride?

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#6
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 3:04 AM

Is Mandy still at the facility where you ride?

Yeah, she calls her self Ydnam nowadays. Was kicked too hard. Poor thing.

If in doubt, don't swim with a crocodile. Animals are not human and can do what ever they please when ever they like. Why? Because they can and I have some scars to prove it. Not just a footy cork. Good luck, Ky.

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#8
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 7:11 AM

Sharkles - Mandy passed away last year. She was "middle aged" as far as horses go; about 18. She had an infection in her knee and was suspected to have some heart trouble as well.

I did, however, ride her several times once I was healed and back in the saddle. We had no additional incidents, however, I was always much more careful around her and never passed behind again!

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#7

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 6:40 AM

Well it can happen with cows too. It's very surprising to see how high a normally docile cow can jump up and then kick out. The next surprise is wondering why I was laying in the isle looking at the underside of the roof.

Great blog. I'll give it to one of my 4-H-ers as an idea for public presentation this year.

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#9
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 7:13 AM

Yes, cows can be tricky too.

4-H - great program! I was a member from age 8 to 18 in Rensselaer county and participated in Horse Bowl and Hippology at the state level as well as riding. It's a good way for people to learn a lot about sportsmanship and animals in addition to competition.

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#11
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 12:07 PM

Having been around horses and cows; grew upon a dairy farm- many a young heifer decided a little kick was good when putting the milker on. Sitting on the other side of the aisle when you weren't paying attention was a problem. People always have snide remarks as if you did something. With the cows they could be just kicking at a fly and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Had a cyst on my chest for 6 months one time.

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#10

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 12:04 PM

That's a great warning story...never overestimate a horse! There are no horse experts...every one gets a hard lesson! Horses are not dumb animals by any means, but they think like prey animals, and we are predatory thinkers. Just a different language. But almost all horse related incidents are the human's fault. In this case, the human was not aware of the horse's state of mind, and physical well being (as anyone who has ever been around a mare in heat can testify, they are extremely dangerous...kinda like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction!) If a horse isn't feeling well, they will tell you. Another probable cause could be respect issues. Mares are always leaders of a herd, and if this mare didn't respect the human as herd leader, it would explain the kick. Of course, going behind a horse, tied or not, is always a bad idea, no exception. Stay away from the kick zone, and you will never get hurt. The last point of interest is the human allowed the horse to get away with the bad behavior, so it is extremely likely that the horse would do this again. Once a behavior is OK, it is always OK to a horse's way of thinking. In a situation like this, the human should immediately (as soon as she could get up, that is!) get in the horse's face, yell, flail her arms around, whatever...make that horse feel like she was going to die in the next ten seconds! This is the best way to get her attention, and to make sure that she NEVER did that again! It gains the horse's respect, which is vital to a good horse/human relationship. Otherwise, you are just a pesky nuisance. and yje horse can do whatever she wants when she's not in the mood to ride, or whatever.

I say this from years of experience, a broken arm, and several 'flying lessons; myself! All incidents were entirely my fault, be it over- or under- estimating the horse, getting too excited at the prospect of a ride that I cut corners, feeling too full of myself as a horsewoman, whatever. I still have my same horse, who in all opinions from other horse people, is the ideal first horse. as close to bomb proof as they come, and a great 'learning horse' (in my case, he's a great teaching horse!) Be that as it may, he has kicked at me, catching my arm with the rim of his hoof, thrown me three times, (once leavcing me on the trail, while he headed home!) knocked me over and stomped on my leg while I was saddling him up...and each time, I got in his face, yelled, etc., and he NEVER did that particular behavior again. And he does still test me, and we go back to basics on the ground!

Horsewomen are crazy, and every one has a scar or two with a great story behind it. Welcome to the club! NOW you are a true horsewoman!

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#12
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 12:38 PM

Mrs. Rabbit - welcome to CR4! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. A few comments about your comments:

  • Good points about predators and prey animals! I touched on that in Part 1 of this series.
  • I did know the mare was in heat and took that into account while saddling her (she was known to strike out with front hooves but had never kicked out behind before).
  • I had no choice but to approach her from behind. She had made a mess in the aisle which needed to be cleaned up and she was cross-tied in the middle of the aisle of a barn that was closed at the back. Unfortunately the tools were located at the rear of the barn and I could not exit the barn to re-enter from the front. If she had ever been known to kick before, I would have stuck her in a stall to take care of the mess!
  • Unfortunately, I was on the ground for several minutes after the kick. John Lyons says you only have three seconds to kill a horse after bad behavior. Yes, I did yell at her from the ground, but by the time I could get up (and barely hobble around), I felt there was little I could do in the way of discipline that would be effective. (She was not the best on cross ties and I did not want to discipline her for standing her there.) Our long walk to the paddock was done appropriately - she was required to walk with respect the whole time at the very least, and to be respectful at the gate.
  • Another point - the kick zone is bigger than you think! I was about four or five feet behind the horse when I was kicked. You need to give animals LOTS of clearance.
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#13
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 1:53 PM

you only have three seconds to kill a horse

LOL! I missed the first thread...my husband showed me the current thread. Guess he knew what I'd do...stick my foot in it to the ankle!

Oh, horses are unique and beautiful creatures, but everyone I know has stories to tell! My bro in law used to ride the cattle drive, and he has no fondness for them at all! When he heard I was getting 'into' horses, he rolled his eyes, and said "prepare to get hurt." (My sister is an endurance rider who has had many bad incidents, and has broken her neck, dislocated and fractured her knee, and recently had a run in with a young mare who bit her-HARD-on the bicep and she still has a lump) When I started to take lessons from a so-called 'expert', I ended up with a broken arm! All the horse women I had met through the years, instead of offering clucks and condolences, grinned widely, and clapped me on the back! I was one of them now, and each showed me her scar, and told the story behind it. A rite of passage, I guess, and now I realize that I went through a rough ordeal, and lived, and stayed on with horses instead of running the other direction. A mad and wonderful world.

A vet friend of mine had a horrendous experience a few years ago, and she is so lucky to be alive, and yet still rides! Her horse was tied to a tie-bar, spooked, pulled the bar and it's posts out of their 3 ft. pilings, and 'freaked', the heavy log tie bar still attached by the lead rope. The log struck the vet, the horse trampled her, the log swung back, fracturing both of the horse's front legs, etc. The horse had to be put down due to it's injuries, the vet had a broken leg, arm and several pulverized ribs, a severe head injury, and was in a coma for 3 weeks. She is fine now, back in the saddle, and mourns the loss of her horse, who she'd raised since birth. No one ever figured out what caused the spook. I don't think I would be THAT brave!

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#14

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/03/2009 7:29 PM

Horses have long memories even if they don't act that way at times.

Never been kicked, bitten only in play. I have punched one for trying to bite and kicked one for trying to set me up for a kick. When I kicked Clyde (a Clydesdale stud) he had the most shocked and laughing look on his face. It shocked him I kicked him first and even though adept at marital arts I can't kick near as hard as a horse. He seemed, well, amused.

A horse will figure out real quick if you will let them get away with it. They have a very keen sense of fair play. I have 3 grades of horse: good, great, and slaughter. Yes I'm a bit of a hard ass with horses but they seem to respect it and in turn I try to be very fair with them.

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#15

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/04/2009 9:39 AM

SavvyExacta, you got away pretty good for a direct kick, as I'm sure you're aware. I've been around horses for almost 50 years, and learned to expect the unexpected ALL the time. I've had some good wrecks, some of which stove me up for a couple of years, making riding interesting. So far, always managed to get back on and ride back to the ranch. Take care, and enjoy your riding!

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#16
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/04/2009 9:44 AM

Hi EE Walt, thanks for the comment. Yes I was quite lucky not to break anything, although being bedridden for several days and limping for several months was no fun! It's been almost two years and it still bothers me from time to time. It's been my most serious horse-related injury to date - I've had some falls but nothing I couldn't ride/walk away from.

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#17

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/04/2009 9:49 AM

Part 1 answered many questions I had about getting kicked by my sisters horse when I was 12 or 13.

She was in her stall and I got the job of cleaning it out. It was a pretty cramped stall and she had been there all night and it was about 10:00AM. She was bored, cramped and wanted out. Ignorant me, I went about cleaning out the stall with the two of us sharing the space.

When I worked my way around her and went behind her into her blind spot, she let out a kick and caught me just under the knee cap and bounced me off of the stall door. I still remember the look on her face as she turned her head around at me like, what were you doing there stupid. Fortunately I was young and a brace on my knee for a couple of weeks was all the damage that was done.

She was a great horse. I remember one of the first times I rode her I started slipping in the saddle to one side, she turned tightly to the left (the direction I was trying hard to fall off of her) to keep me centered in the saddle. At 16 hands and and a nice canter, I would have had a nasty fall but she didn't let me do it.

I was quite saddened when my sister went off to college and sold her horse.

I wish I had read Part 1 40 years ago! I did every thing wrong.

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#18
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/04/2009 9:53 AM

Thanks for sharing your story! The details fit in perfectly with some of the examples I explained in Part 1 of the series. Glad to hear you weren't seriously hurt. The part about the horse "saving" you while riding was great - there are some real saint horses out there! But it goes to show that even one of the best animals will still react according to animal nature (i.e. kicking when you are directly behind in the blind spot).

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#19

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/04/2009 12:01 PM

"...one of the first times I rode her I started slipping in the saddle to one side, she turned tightly to the left (the direction I was trying hard to fall off of her) to keep me centered in the saddle. At 16 hands and and a nice canter, I would have had a nasty fall but she didn't let me do it."

LOL!! When I first got my horse, I was still recovering from a nasty run-in on my 'training' horse, a Appy mare (who incidentally had a history of doing exactly what she did with me-resulting in a broken arm!) so I, as a novice, was in way over my head! But, on our first ride, the saddle slipped, and the riding group was on a precarious trail...no room to get off and retack. There were also hills and valleys, and a few "whoop-de-doos". When we finally got back to the road, the saddle had ridden to the left, and wy back...almost to his tailbone! Sunny just adjusted his speed and stance, so he was almost curled sideways and hobbling, but I didn't come off! In fact,there was one part of the ride that went down a steep slope that had thickets of manznita on either side. For some reason, I freaked out and started to panic, yelling and carrying on. My friend yelled" Hey! Lok at your horse!" I did, and he turned his head, looked me square in the eye, and 'told' me "Babe, it's cool. I got this!" I had this feeling of calm, and just held on, letting the horse do the work. s wonderful! He could hae just thrown me off, enough of this!, but instead helped me understand the rider/horse connection. He has been a great teacher, and so patient! I guess on the "great-good-slaughter" scale, he would be 'good', for he's no aint!, but in my eyes, he's a "10".

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#20

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/05/2009 2:37 AM

Hi Savvy,

Sorry I don't have horse but a dog a mixed breed of Golden Retriever. She is very hostile to other dogs. When I take her for walk she barks at any dog whom she meets on the road. Then she is uncontrollable and I am scared to take her for the walk. Any remedy for such behaviour?.

Suresh Sharma.

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#21
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/06/2009 6:01 PM

She is expressing her dominance to the other dogs. This usually mean that she doesn't see you as "Alpha", or pack leader, thus unable to protect her or yoursef from threat. In order to have a well behaved dog, one who will always listen to you and obey your commands, the dog must see you as Alpha dog. Otherwise, like the horse behavior we were discussing, she will see you as a pesky annoyance (who happens to have opposable thumbs, and the key to the dog food cupboard!). Taking her to training classes will help in your learning dominance and her learning to listen. Check out The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan if you get the show on tv where you live. He has good techniques in training and teaching dogs and humans alike. There are many good training books and videos available as well. Do remember that there are no quick fixes, just patience and consistency.

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#24
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/08/2009 7:12 AM

Basic obedience is a good start. Teach your dog commands like "sit", "down", and "stay". These should be mastered inside and outside the home. Try them in various situations. Reward your dog for good behavior. A training class, as suggested above, could help.

I have a beagle that knows all of that stuff but wails (beagle hunting bark) at other dogs. She gets the anti-barking collar put on immediatly when she misbehaves on walks so she knows she can't do it again. She's slowly but surely getting better. This dog lived on a five acre farm until about age eight, then moved to a small city, so it's hard for her to believe the entire bike path we're walking on can also be "trespassed on" by other dogs - and it's okay.

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#27
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/09/2009 3:01 AM

Hi Savvy & Mrs.Rabbits,

Thanks for your suggestions I will try to train my dog accordingly and hope she will be less aggressive to other dogs. We do not have TV show on Mr.Milan in Mumbai, India. We get Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geoghraphical channels here. I will be happy if you can give me the name of channel then I can watch the show.

I have noticed that now she reacts only when other dog barks at her and then she is furious. I think she is very defensive lady. Hopefully she will be comfortable.

Suresh Sharma.

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#28
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/09/2009 8:09 AM

I think the show Mrs. Rabbit was talking about might be on Animal Planet.

If your dog gets upset when other dogs bark, she might also think she is protecting you. Once you get her to a point where you are in control (and she understands that), you might try introducing her to other dogs. This way she will understand that they aren't a threat to you or her. Make sure that both dogs are on leashes and only introduce her to friendly, controlled dogs at first.

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#29
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/09/2009 10:51 AM

Yes, it is on Animal Planet. The name of the show is "The dog whisperer". Great show for tips on training, easy to follow. It will certainly help you and your dog form a closer bond.

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#31
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Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/10/2009 3:48 AM

Hi Mrs.Rabbit & Savvy,

Again thanks for your reply I will definitely watch the show.

Suresh Sharma.

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#22

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/07/2009 2:13 AM

One guy I know hangs his saddles to dry for a day or so after a long ride then he has a made a gas chamber out of a barrel and he uses it to kill spiders and things.

I told him about your story on here and he said his horse was bitten by a spider once and threw him off. The spider came crawling out while he was calming the horse.

He removed the saddle and found the bite. Now he gases the saddles before any ride.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/07/2009 10:40 AM

interesting idea! I always check my tack for bugs and burrs...we have "velcro weed" up here, tiny SHARP little burrs that get into everything! More of an irritant than a danger, but it would make the horse really uncomfortable after a short time. I know it drives me batty to get on in my sock! LOL

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#25

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/08/2009 3:29 PM

I've been on a horse only once in my 63 years, not a pleasant experience. I was a strapping young city-slicker in my late 20's and went on a weekend getaway to a dude ranch in upstate NY. Came the morning of the first trail ride the group of riders got some rudimentary instructions from the wranglers, we got on our assigned horses (mine was a Palomino) and started off walking along the trail. Every time we stopped and my horse lowered it's head to graze I had the sickening feeling that I would fall over the front of the horse - I thanked God for the security of having a saddle horn to hold on to.

After a while the wranglers picked up the pace to a trot - I became more attached to my saddle horn as I butt-bounced in the saddle. Suddenly there was a commotion from the back of the trail. What it was I didn't know until this big black high-spirited stallion came galloping by obviously out of the control of the young lady on his back. All of the horses took the cue and began galloping - it was a stampede! I swear the only thing that kept me on that horse was my iron grip on the saddle horn.

The black stallion was just ahead of me and my Palomino when we came to a bend in the road. It was here that the young lady fell out of her saddle, hit the ground like a rag doll rolling and sliding across the trail just as my horse reached her I prepared myself for the worst, her to me trampled by my horse with me falling off and being trampled by the other horses.

But it didn't happen! My Palomino jumped over the girl! I can only describe it as the flight of an angel, it was an effortless gliding through the air (I somehow stayed in the saddle), my terror was quenched by waves of relief. The girl's momentum slid her off the trail and out of harm's way.

The stampede seemed to abruptly come to an end as all horses allowed to a walk. The girl was ok, no one was hurt, but me and a group of other dudes could be found at the shooting and archery ranges far away from horses for the rest of the weekend.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/08/2009 3:42 PM

corelite - Thanks for sharing your story - certainly sounds like it was an adventure! Glad you stayed safe. Holding onto the horn of a Western saddle is always a better option than having a death grip on the horse's mouth via the reins.

Just an anatomical correction for the readers: I'm sure the girl on the runaway was riding a gelding (castrated male) rather than a stallion. Inexperienced riders rarely ride stallions; it's a safety issue and often prohibited by insurance companies in situations like dude ranches.

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#30
In reply to #25

Re: Mechanics of a Horse Kick – My Story (Part 3)

09/09/2009 11:12 AM

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!! Oh, God...I LOVE this story! I, too, became much enamoured of the saddle horn when taking my riding lessons. My only previous experience was on stable nags at a local ranch. Those horses had two speeds...slow and dead. No VROOM in them at all! The first lesson, I was paired up with Poncho, a surly 'horse' (I actually think he was part jackass!) with a bad attitude toward newbies. The instructor would bop him hard on the butt with a crop while we were in the lesson arena, and he would crow hop, kick out, and generally be a buttmunch for the rest of the lesson. After a few days on him, I graduated to a new lesson horse. This horse had been a police horse, and was brand new to the ranch, and to being a teaching horse. A BIG red boy, part thoroughbred, I soon found out why he had been retired! He had the habit of rubbing his rider off by passing right next to the corral fence, and pushing against it. He also had two speeds...fast and murder-the-idiot-on-my-back. He and I had an incident ehrn the instructor's husband came to the arena with a 4 ft. rattlesnake he had killed. The horse smelled it, saw it, and freaked out, bucking, running, crowhopping, twisting...he was like a rodeo horse! I became one with the saddle, and actually rode this whirlwind for a few minutes, until he calmed down. When my world became focused, and my heart rate dropped below 350, I saw that everyone on the ranch had gathered along the fence, eyes wide and mouths gaping. I actually got a big round of applause! I shakily dismounted, handed the horse off to one of the hands, and told the instructor I'd rather not get back on this particular horse again, if it was all the same to her. The bad part of saddle horns is this: If you "come off" a horse (with extreme prejudice) flying forward at Mach 2, there is a very good chance you will meet the horn at some point during your launch, and it will become very personal with your belly. The good news is the bruise only lasts a month or so, and you will be able to use the bathroom again normally once your colon returns to it's normal upright position!

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