On Saturday (last week) my dear husband and I finally finished shortening the shafts for my forecart. I hadn't driven either horse in a month. I harnessed Doc and worked him in the round pen for a bit. Then, with my husband's help, hitched him to the cart. My husband, being the wonderfully supportive guy that he is, ferried cones from the round pen to the pasture (somewhat smaller than an acre) and spent the next 30 minutes setting 'gates' and changing their orientation while I drove Doc in and out and around. I stopped by the barn, where my dear husband was watching our work, to ask him to bring a bottled water over - oh, and please talk to the horse (which he did) while you come, since he can't see you with the blinders on. We chatted a bit. We talked about how well Doc was doing. We talked about the cones. I said that I planned to go through the cones a few more times and then I was going to go out of the pasture and up the road. I took up the reins and released them, saying 'walk on'. Doc did nothing. I took up the reins again, released them and tapped him with the whip. Doc jumped forward. He trotted a few steps and then broke into a gallop. He may have been startled by the cart behind him, I don't know. I tried to stop. I worked to steer him in a circle in the pasture, which goes downhill and has many ground squirrel and pocket gopher holes and mounds. In addition to worrying about stopping and turning, my next concern was staying upright. I do recall hanging on and trying to lean to the left to balance the cart. After turning about 270 degrees I relaxed a bit with the realization that the cart hadn't tipped over and that my trainer was right; the Pioneer forecart is ugly as sin, but it is safe! Doc and I galloped toward the barn. He began to slow as he went up the hill facing the barn wall. Then, in a moment of sheer atheltic brilliance, Doc dodged to the left and ran out the open gate. I was saying some very nasty words in my mind as I continued to try to control the runaway. As we exited the pasture and entered my back yard we were faced with numerous trees and gardens. Some of the trees have metal posts driven into the ground at an angle to hold the tree in position. Ouch, these could really tear a horse into pieces. Just as I was beginning to wonder how I would navigate through the maze Doc ducked to the left again. He was less than 2 strides from the hitching post. (Insert more expletives.) BAM! Doc ran into the 6" diameter pole of the hitching post, end on, at a full gallop. He seemed to roll off the hitching post and then, BAM! The cart was caught up on the hitching post. Doc ripped out of his harness, now wearing only the bridle and reins and his collar. He stopped and turned to look at me.
I felt like this nightmare of a ride went on for a long time. I thought we had taken at least two, probably three turns of the pasture. In reality, we went around the pasture one time and the whole ordeal probably took less than a minute. Less than a minute from standing calmly to a total wreck. Less than a minute for this miracle to occur, for it is miraculous that both Doc and I are alive.
Evidently Doc's collar took the initial impact with the hitching post, which saved him from terrible injury. He had a 3" square scrape on the point of his shoulder and some heat and swelling. He's basically sound, only showing a bit of stiffness on a tight turn or on uneven ground. Now I know where the phrase, 'built like a horse' came into our language! I had a bump and bruise on my forearm where it hit the cart when I was thrown forward on impact -seat belts and air bags are not factory installed equipment on the cart. The harness was torn off of Doc. The buckles on the straps of the saddle tore through the leather. The rivets and stiching on the buckle of the hame strap were popped and more stitching was ripped near the beeching. The shafts of the cart are bent. We are alive and we are both going to recover from very minor injuries. The equipment can easily be fixed. Miraculous!
I was shaken by this experience, and as I stated previously had a lousy night. As dawn broke I got online to see if consigments would still be accepted for the auction and printed out my form. Later that day my husband pointed out that I really needed my boys. He's right. I couldn't take them to the auction. By Sunday night I was keeping the horses, but I would ride astride and give up driving. By Monday night I was thinking I might continue to drive Pippin. On Tuesday I agreed to at least talk to a trainer. By Wednesday I was toying with the idea of taking lessons with the trainer and Doc....
So, you can see how it has gone. Life goes on. I enjoy my early morning visits with the boys. I love their antics. I will continue on but perhaps with a bit more caution!