“Mommy, look how high he can jump!” Cori exclaimed as she came around the backside of the small, fenceless arena on the banks of Guadalupe Creek. Cori loved to jump her Sonny and today’s jump was a downed tree branch in the middle of the arena. Sonny was an awesome horse and my daughter, even at eleven was already big and strong. But Sonny was half pony, and even though he was quite well trained, he had a mind of his own, and he often used it.
I looked up when I heard the hoof beats coming around the bend of the makeshift arena and as I leaned on my rake, I shouted “make this your last jump. It’s hard work for Sonny, and you’ve been riding a long time.”
But as I hollered my instructions to the passing duo, I also caught Sonny’s eye. There was something about the tilt of his head and the swivel of an ear — he knew I had told her to stop, and he was pretty sure I meant NOW. He started to slow, but Cori kicked him on. He tried to balk, and then gave a half hearted buck. But Cori pushed him on, towards the jump. But Sonny was having none of that and instead tossed his head in the air, grabbed the snaffle in his teeth and veered off track in a mad dash for the old oak standing dead arena-center.
All I could do was watch as Sonny barreled towards the tree with Cori onboard, now helplessly trying to stop him or turn him away from the tree. But her pulling was in vain and in a calculated manner, at a fast canter, he dipped and rolled his shoulder, exposing Cori’s leg to a direct hit, and subsequent unseating, or even “smear” on the tree.
I brought my hands up to my mouth, dropped the rake, and started a sprint towards the ensuing calamity. I fully expected the worst, as I had a similar “smear” in my childhood. But just upon impact, Cori smoothly, and all too easily, pulled her leg back across Sonny’s loin, exposing his side to the tree, instead of her leg – and with a loud oooooooogggghhhh, impact was made. Both horse and rider bounced off the tree and, inadvertently, right into the jump he was supposed to make in the first place. Which he did, ending up at my feet with an abrasion to the side and a real knock to his horsey self-esteem.
“OK”, I’ll quit now, Cori grinned…
“Get off” is what I said.
“Geez, Sonny’s met his match”, is what I was thinkin’.