A few months ago I told the beginning of Mizzy’s story here in our blog post Golden Child. It was like a dream as we filled in the first page of his logbook with a string of A’s and 1’s barely three weeks after he was broken in, bitless and barefoot to boot.
It was not the end of Mizzy’s year however. The Kilkivan ride was coming up and we were all attending with our 80km horses – why shouldn’t we take Mizzy too? Well, as it happened, there was a lovely girl who was keen to do her first ride nearby! Kim came and rode Mizz a few times to get to know the little scamp and it was soon all settled. Mizzy’s first set of Blue Pegasos shoes went on the weekend before the ride and they completed the 20km sitting on the tail of the pace rider with straight A’s and 1’s yet again.
The golden pony had a few little tricks up his sleeve when we trained. He wasn’t without a pigroot in those days and certainly knew how to make things interesting for his rider when he got bored! He never really intended to get me out of the saddle when he kicked up his heels so the times I did come unstuck were in no way his fault.
The first fall came a week before his first ride at Widgee. The break in my foot had healed for the most part but I was still paranoid about hurting myself. We had done a nice 10km loop that brought us home along the roadside, passing the tennis courts as we went. That road is a 100kp/h section so we tend to tread very carefully along there – what we do not usually have to take into account are people deliberately trying to frighten our horses!
We go past the tennis courts regularly, so the horses don’t even blink as people run back and forth or the intermittent CLACK of the ball being hit, but that afternoon there was no one in sight bar one young boy, about 12 or 13 years old. Erin, Chintzia and I jogged down the street with Koda, Sally and Mizzy, minding our own business and I remarked on how good Mizzy had been that day and how well he was handling training. We had no idea what was about to happen.
The big purple ball had not frightened Mizzy in the least, he had seen it and heard it hitting the ground as it bounced up and down and there wasn’t even the slightest bit of tension in him as we approached. Then the kid spotted us and for that split second I thought he had stopped bouncing to let us pass. But I was wrong. In that moment he had paused and held the ball still he had clearly decided that throwing it at the fence was by far the better and more entertaining option.
All I can say is that in that moment I was praying that there were no cars coming as all three horses lost all sense of reason and spun toward the road. Koda and Sally were under control within a moment, but it was all too much for Mizzy as I tried to restrain him and he was so scared that he decided he had to get rid of me in order to save himself. The three successive bucks had us first sideways, then in the ditch and then onto the road – it was the last that had me off as I went straight over his head and landed on my knees on the bitumen, the rough surface instantly tearing through the denim of my jeans and the skin of my palms as they landed a moment later.
I was angry, but my first thought was for my horse. He stood wide-eyed nearby in the middle of the road while Erin and Chintz scrambled to catch him. He seemed unharmed and not keen to leave his friends which I was very grateful for. My next thought was for cars which may be coming at 100kms down the road unaware of what had just happened, so I stiffly stood to reclaim my horse and guide him away from the road. The next thought was for the little brat who had caused the entire thing – the brat who had now disappeared.
I was in no mood to go looking for him, he clearly knew he’d made a big mistake and I knew that if I stayed off Mizzy for too long while looking for the twit that my knees were not going to manage getting back on. The blood and swelling were evident – time to mount before I lost the ability to bend them altogether…
Now, I’m no doctor, but I know what fluid on my knees means when I’ve hit a solid surface with a good few hundred kilograms of propulsion behind it. I probably should have had x-rays done, maybe a few weeks out of the saddle – but having only a couple of months prior escaped the hell that was a moon boot and broken foot, there was no way on earth I was going to be admitting any kind of weakness here.
So I sat for the next week with various bags of frozen vegetables on my knees while I watched reruns of How I Met Your Mother and Friends, intermittently riding out with the girls for training and ignoring the pain as much as possible. I am no role model when it comes to injuries I’m afraid, but by the next week the swelling was gone and I was no longer limping so we went to Widgee for the 20km. Unfortunately six weeks later it all came raging back as I went for a jog and the swelling returned with a vengeance. Yes, there was a fracture in there somewhere… But as with most equestrians, I grinned, I bore it, I kept riding!
It was soon the end of our riding season and we were moving house so Mizzy was turned out for a rest, but not before our second (and last to date) fall occurred – and it was a doozy! I still have a faint scar on my arm from it.
We had shifted to a new property which wonderfully backed onto miles and miles of trails. On Mizzy’s first outing we followed in behind Jasmine, happily daydreaming since we were not in the lead. It all happened as I tried to turn my stirrup away from the small tree that looked rather dead – unfortunately my twisting motion caught it instead and the next thing I knew the little sad dead tree was wedged between my stirrup and the cage, pulled from the ground and dragging along beside us!
There were a couple of moments that I thought I could save the situation. In one second I thought I’d gotten the thing loose, in the next I thought Mizzy had realised it wasn’t a big deal and then I suppose one of the branches must have poked him as he suddenly lost it again, springing into the air, bucking and bolting in complete panic and subsequently dumping me sideways into a very spiny and rough grass gum-tree! It was quite a hilarious spectacle I am sure and I still find it rather amusing to think that I got a damn tree stuck in my stirrup!
So, that was the end of Mizzy’s bucking for me. He has never tried to drop me again and I do think his four year old brain had very valid reasons for being upset in those situations. It wouldn’t be long before he would meet his new riding buddy, fresh returned from a stint in the UK and looking for a new hobby. A grand journey was about to begin, we just didn’t know quite how grand yet.