Things That Haunt Us

I ride a lot of horses; this week I’ve already ridden seven different horses. I hack some of them and I’ve noticed that I have one angst that goes with me, on every horse.

I don’t like dogs. More specifically, I don’t like hacking past houses which have a dog in the garden.

This stems back to an accident I had about ten years ago. It was the week before Christmas and I was hacking my young pony with two friends. We were walking along a narrow lane and as we passed a farm drive, complete with gates, and suddenly a nose appeared under the gate, it’s  owner yapping loudly. Both my pony and I jumped, sidestepped and slipped on the mud on the side of the road. I found myself on my side with my pony lying on my leg. He got up hurriedly and I soon followed.

Thankfully my leg and foot was unharmed – we later found out the my adult safety stirrup had saved me as the actual iron had become distorted in the fall. This was highlighted a month later when I was working without stirrups in the indoor and one of the yard dogs loomed out of the dark, causing my pony to leap sideways on the corner, before slipping over onto me again. This time, my foot didn’t come off so well! Which is another reason to use stirrups.

Back to the dog accident. It took me and my pony a few hacks before we would go past that driveway, and we were both very tense. After my accident my friends and I always used to make a noise as we approached the driveway in order to get the dog to bark before we got there.

I never really liked hacking that route again, and I was surprised last autumn when I went for a bus mans holiday to Wales, to hear that the dog was still alive.

Even today when I approach large houses and drives, with the potential of dogs running round I feel myself tense, and have to really concentrate on exhaling slowly to help the horse stay relaxed.

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