Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I Don't Ride When the Ground is Wet

I've built up a bit of paranoia over riding horses when the footing is wet. It doesn't matter if it's moist or muddy from rain, iced over, or covered in snow. If there's moisture, I don't ride.

Yet I've been looking at other people's blogs and seeing how they ride despite the weather and ground conditions. I began thinking I should get out there and just do it.

Then IT happened...

I had let the horses into the round pen to eat some grass that started growing there thanks to the ground being saturated all month. When it was time for me to go in the house, I had to shoo the horses out of the round pen so I could lock the gate. I walked around them, raised my arms and said, "Okay, time to go..."

Gabbrielle bolted like a racehorse out of the gate, got two steps into her gallop, lost traction, and flipped onto her side. The thump was sickening. It all happened in less than a second. Had I been riding her and she took off like that, my leg would have been crushed, and I probably would have had both the wind and the sense knocked out of me.

Gabbrielle got back up and finished exiting the round pen with the most beautiful, controlled lope I've ever seen her do. I hope she learned from her experience and now knows it is always better to move at the slower gaits when floors are wet.  She's like a kid who you have to keep reminding not to run around the poolside.  She's fine. I checked her out a few hours later to look for signs of stiffness and she's as happy-go-lucky as ever.

12 comments:

Oregon Equestrian said...

I'm with you. I don't do iffy footing (outside or in). I have a friend who was badly injured when her horse slipped and fell on a wet spot in an arena.

Glad your horse is fine after her fall.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Whew! Scary. But just like a human kid, she was able to fall and get right back up like nothing happened. Glad she was ok...and you weren't in the way either.

~Lisa

Fantastyk Voyager said...

yep, I've seen my horses running in the slick mud and have their legs slip right out from under them. Down they go with a thud.

fernvalley01 said...

Glad no one was hurt.Hard to say, I have seen them wipe out farting around on pasture , and still ridden on iffy footing ,but as I get older I have become far more cautious.I will ride on wet footing , but not in a small space (down the road or in pasture, and always at a slower controlled pace)and never on really icy footing

Crystal said...

I think it depends on the ground, and the horse, some are more prone to silliness and slipping. Today we rode outside on prarie and it was wet from frost, but didnt seem slippery.

photogchic said...

Guilty...I ride in every kind of weather. Growing up in Minnesota, snow never stopped me. Now in Oregon, the rain doesn't even make me hesitate. Once you get in the trees, you stay dry. But that being said, it is usually slow going unless we are on a road. This time of year, I do end up in the arena a bit more than I like, but that gives me a chance to do more dressage.

Katharine Swan said...

I think Crystal is right -- you have to go with your best judgment based on the conditions and the horse. At one of the barns I boarded at, my trainer and I could ride on snow, mud, you name it. We didn't do everything if it was muddy, but we also didn't have any issues. But then a little over a year ago, I was practicing at the canter in slightly muddy conditions, and Panama slipped. Down I went!

I try to use common sense without giving in to paranoia, but sometimes it's hard. Having an indoor arena has spoiled me, too -- now I really don't have to risk it, so I don't. Also, with all the falling I've done this year, I think I've grown a little more cautious -- probably a little TOO cautious -- so I'm right there with you.

baystatebrumby said...

Just yesterday we got to our favorite galloping spot on the trail and with all the leaves that were wet and super slick, and the mud we knew was under them, we decided to walk. OH the horses all really wanted to run but I had a bad feeling about it. Who wants to have an accident when it can easily be avoided? I may be crazy but now that crazy. I'm glad Gabbrielle is just fine.

Jame said...

I'm glad Gabbrielle is fine, but this does lead us to thoughts we've had about shoeing our draft horses in the icy winter months. One fall on ice, especially while under any kind of load, can ruin a horse for life, not just physically but psychologically, because they get to wondering if they can ever trust their footing again. Mostly we just try not to work them on icy days, but every day is chancy once real winter hits.

Anonymous said...

I ride in all weather too but believe me, when it is muddy and slick I lead the horse where I want him to go and make sure before I mount the trail is clear and the horse is calm. We ride on fireroads in Marin so the footing is very good. In and out of the pasture, the outside roundpen...that is a bit different. So maybe Gabrielle will learn a lesson but don't count on it, instead, you should have learned a lesson to keep the horses calm and under control, even if it means haltering and leading them one by one, in and out of a slippery situation...

Everything we do with horses is a lesson, to them, to us and often to both of us! MysteryTheMorab

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Hmmmm. If I have to halter and lead the horses everywhere for the next six months, then I may as well keep them in their stalls and watch them lose their minds from being confined. I'm a bit too busy to be babysitting horses, keeping them calm, and teaching them to walk. The slipperiness is everywhere.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Hahahaha-Don't you learn anything NM? (Just kidding)

The other day, I walked into the muddy pen to catch a horse, walked right up to him, went to slip the leadrope around his neck, the dumb bunny went to spin away from me, made it about 1/2 the way around and went down flat on his side, legs a flailing.

I actually laughed at him. I have not idea what the heck he was thinking spinning away like that. He's a little strange once in awhile about his head, but I wasn't anywhere near touching his head. Silly horse. He looked properly chastised and rather embarrassed after he heard me laughing at him though.

I have to ride in the mud, at higher speeds even to get the barrel horses used to running in mud. After Moon had to run at that one rodeo in deep, sloppy (but not slippery) mud and I couldn't get him out of a slow lope because he didn't like the mud/water splashing him, I realized I had gotten a little to careful.