I’m going to take a minute and deliver a huge Shout-Out and uncompensated Product Spot to two things that have saved my cojones in the last 36 hours: Topricin, and Arnicare arnica gel. I saw Huey’s account of yesterday, and it was right on the money. We were trying something new in my lesson, and Huey’s huge trot (which is a good thing) bounced my ass right out of the saddle and through the railing around the ring. Fortunately, I landed on the portion of my anatomy best designed to handle impacts like this…but I still got tossed around a good bit. Nearly bit through my lip, as far as I can tell. And I’ve got a Bruise of Epic Proportions coming up on the inside of my calf. The lip I can understand…the whiplashy feeling in my neck and shoulders I can understand – Huey is 16.2 hh, which means that his shoulders are about 5.5 feet off the ground, and once you stick on the saddle and all that stuff, my butt is a good 6 feet off the ground when I’m on him, so I took a tumble from 6, 7 feet in the air. But the bruise on the inside of my calf? It makes no sense. And it’s right on the huge muscle there, and it took 24 hours to start showing as blue, so in another 3 or 4 days, it’s going to be one of those green-and-purple monsters…which means I took a wicked strong blow from something jolly hard on it. I landed outside the fence – I’m still not entirely clear on whether I went through the fence, over the fence, or under the fence…doesn’t this sound like a 4th grade lesson on The Preposition? But in any event, I’m pretty sure Huey didn’t step on me…which means I got this whacking huge bruise from…Something Else.
I guess that looking at the damage and speculating on its source are part of the fun of taking a big tumble.
It is also true that Huey was reluctant to let me back in the saddle, and that he was Entirely Depressed for some time after. Yesterday, every time I felt myself start to stiffen up somewhere, I slicked on a fresh layer of one of the aforementioned products. This process, by the way, includes the interview I did for a job candidate. We had a tax professor in. My professional overlap with tax professors involves questions of who left the used filter in the coffee machine, and possibly, who is getting the travel grant. Other than that, we have very little in common, even though we’re in the same field. Technically. I’d been wondering what on earth I was going to talk to her about for 30 minutes, especially since I had the last meeting of the day, which meant that other people would have answered any Vital and Pressing Questions she might have had.
Yet, as we went from lunch to my office, I had that tell-tale twinging start up again, and my Horse Person nature surged to the fore. Horse People, you must understand, have an entirely different Social Aesthetic than do Normal Humans. People who routinely kick poop onto a rake, or have to wash a Dangling Stallion Part the size of your FOREARM, and do that in PUBLIC, can’t afford to be Squeamish and Prissy. Actually, I get a huge kick out of the tack catalogs that all my new retail BFFs send me every other week: all of the horses are immaculately clean. As are the riders. Horses are filthy. They are like Pigpen, from Charlie Brown – they all have Attract Dirt, 100-Foot Radius, 99 percentile. They might even be dirtier than pigs. I have come to the conclusion that the Horse Models must be washed in between every photo op, and instantly covered up with some kind of sheet, which is whipped off only after getting the horse into position for the shot…because as far as I can tell, there is a 5 minute window before the Acquire Filth spell kicks in. The model riders are at least as much of a mystery. They don’t seem to have hay in their hair, manure on their boots, nameless grubby smears on their clothing, or – this is my favorite – a wet trail of slimy chewed-up hay where the horse has Demonstrated Its Affection by delivering a nice, broad lick. They don’t have grime on their arms so thick they could scratch their initials into like some kind of Farm Prison tattoo. They don’t look like people who would recognize a muck-rake, let alone know how to use one…or – my favorite again – have played that game to see if you can go fetch the muck-rake and get it into position to catch the droppings as they roll out of the horse, before they hit the floor. Yes. This is the kind of game that Horse People consider to be Amusing. I don’t know where Horse People get the image of being stuffy and tidy. It’s all a complete fraud. I expect that even the Queen of England – a noted Horse Person – has had grime so thick she could scrape the royal coat of arms into it.
Anyway, giving full flower to my Inner Horse Person has certainly affected my…sensibilities. So I saw nothing at all wrong with whipping out my tube of Topricin and starting to slick it onto my neck and shoulders, while interviewing a job candidate, and saying “Sorry about this. I fell off my horse this morning, and I don’t want to be crippled tomorrow.”
Thank The Lord, she replied with the Counter-Sign: “Oh? What style do you ride?”
Thus, I knew I was in the presence of another Horse Person, and all questions about how we would fill the ensuing 30 minutes were resolved with those six words.
Overnight, I was sure that I’d wake up crippled as hell this morning…but – thanks again to the miracle of Topricin and Arnicare (religiously applied) – I was not only able to walk, but to ride. Good thing, too, because Huey was still depressed, poor baby. He didn’t try to stop to eat the grass on the way out of the paddock. He didn’t try to steal stalks of hay from the blankets on the racks. He didn’t even make a bid for the hay that Clay had tossed out of his stall earlier. His Haydar was hors de combat, and his spirit right along with it.
He wasn’t sure at all about getting saddled up. And he really wasn’t sure about navigating the arena. It was clear he’d had a Crisis of Confidence in me. Or in himself. Either way, he was still bummed. I jollied him along, and lavished praise, sunshine, and hot air on his pointy little ears, and eventually he bucked up a bit. By the time I finished cleaning him up afterwards, he was getting back to his mouthy, pushy self. He didn’t go so far as to beg for a massage, but he did make at least a token attempt to eat the grass while on the lead line. Another ride or two, and about fifty minutes worth of sunshine blown aggressively at his ass, and he’ll be back to normal.
I gotta say, when I launched into the Horse Owning biz, I thought I’d be needing to provide for basic physical needs, paying for vets and farriers and grain and salt licks, and making more space in my schedule for exercising him. What I did not realize was that I’d also have to provide Therapy. And Self-Esteem Boosting. I don’t even want to go very far into the question of why he got depressed when I fell off. I’m hoping it is just because he has a very strong sense of responsibility, because I’m afraid the alternative is that some other rider blamed him and got angry at him and wanted to punish him when s/he fell off. The thought of anyone getting blistered at my goofy guy is too awful to seriously contemplate. I’m going with the Overdeveloped Sense of Responsibility thing. Thank heavens his new saddle pad, the one with his name embroidered on it, should be coming in the next few weeks. Hopefully that will bolster his confidence.
I know this following recipe bolstered something for me. And for Jeff, and anyone else who eats it. Delicious! Easy! What more could anyone want?
1 T olive oil
6 whole chicken legs
2 large leeks, white and light green portions, rinsed well and thinly sliced
salt and ground pepper
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
2 T flour
1/2 C dry white wine
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
3 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of one large lemon
1-1/4 C chicken broth
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
1/2 C heavy cream
In a deep stock pot (NOT a skillet) over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom, until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1 T of the tarragon, 2 T of the parsley, the lemon juice, broth, carrots and chicken.
Transfer to a crock pot. Cover and cook on high until the chicken and carrots are tender, about 3 hours; stir in the cream during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Stir in the remaining 1 T tarragon and 1 T parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Will make a stew-like dish. Good with mashers or crusty bread.
Serves 4 to 6.