About a week and a half ago, Canaan received the first significant skiff of snow for the season. I made the best of it by bundling up for the harsh mountaintop winds and headed out on a 7 mile jaunt with Q and Taiga.
We had a freaking blast! Q was forward, curious, and eager the entire ride. She is such a joy to work with and I'm really looking forward to more winter rides with her as I leg her up for another go at endurance in the spring.
Unfortunately, the end of the ride wasn't exactly as great as the beginning and middle though! For the first time in years, I parted ways with Miss Q. But it wasn't because she spooked out from under me! Oh, no. Instead I got to experience a horse falling down for the first time in my life while riding.
We were trotting around a tight turn when Q lost traction and slipped quite gracefully onto her left side. The ground was not yet frozen and thus slick underneath the fresh snowfall. Fortunately, we weren't trotting very fast at all and the soft ground cushioned our fall very well.
Q's falling momentum gave my body just enough push that I didn't end up with a leg underneath her when we went down. In fact, the way everything worked out, I was deposited more gently than I could have imagined on the ground! It was akin to lying down in bed, honestly.
Uncertain if Q would freak out a bit at the surprise of falling, I made a conscious decision to let go of the reins and scramble away from her. Well, silly Liz. I forgot this mare's tendency to leave my ass if I don't keep ahold of her.
Q gave me a very knowing side-eye once she stood up, and then made her own conscious decision to leave me! She picked up what was first a slow trot that quickly turned into a power trot and later a canter as she realized she was free, free at a last.
I called after her something along the lines of, "Q you whore!" As I trudged and then jogged down the trail, I called to Taiga (who WAS listening to me!) to stay with me and not Q (she did). While I had zero doubts about Q retracing our exact steps and going home, Taiga is easily distracted and probably wouldn't have made it home with Q lol.
I gave Dave a ring to let him know that Q was heading home without me and assured him I was completely fine. I requested that he drive down the hill to get me though because I really didn't care to schlup myself up the mountain!
Dave picked Taiga and I up, letting me know that Q was on her way up the neighborhood road with two of our friends who saw her gallop by following in their truck to keep an eye on her. Dave and I caught up to her right in the last switchback turn (the steepest). She was walking by this point and looking none-to-pleased with her predicament as she marched up the mountain. I cackled with a bit of glee at this, happy she still had to work her little tush off after leaving me while I, using my big human brain and technology, had garnered myself a gas-powered ride!
I tried to grab ahold of her, but she opted to trot off. So I hopped back into the car and called out the window, "Q, you whore!" Once at the top however, Dave and I were able to pass her so I could hop out and stand in front of her so she'd stop.
I checked her legs over and found nothing beyond a couple mud marks from the wet soil. All the same, I opted to lead her from the ground as we walked the remaining distance to the house so I could be fully certain she was fine after her impromptu solo venture.
She was completely unabashed about her decision to leave me. Grateful that neither of us was any worse for the wear, I could only laugh at the situation once we reunited and curse her under my breath a bit. Her confidence and attitude is such a joy to witness that I really can't be mad at her.
I've made a mental note to resume my former habit of holding onto her reins if we part ways again in the future. That said, I don't anticipate that I will have to practice it too much. This little mare has gained so much confidence and is such a joy to ride these days. It's crazy to think that it has been so many years since I last had an unplanned dismount from her! Hopefully when we enjoy our next ride together, we can keep upright and return home the same way we left.