Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

When I was young, I often purchased horses to work with, train or retrain then sell to good homes. Star Velvet was just such a horse, but with a difference. She was a tad pricey for me. Still, I was intrigued when I read the ad. In my mind’s eye, I could almost picture the mare being described. Peruvian Paso dam, Arabian sire, she was bound to be beautiful, and smooth, too. How could she not be?

I made arrangements to go see her, and was immediately smitten. I couldn’t really afford such an expensive, young horse with barely a lick of training, but so wanted her. Star Velvet was years before life taught me that, if you wanted something too badly, it rarely worked out for the best. I couldn’t resist, and bought the beautiful horse.
One very wise thing I did do, was ask the horseman whose trailer I was using, to come along with me. I’m quite certain that Star Velvet would’ve stayed behind, if he hadn’t come along. It took all of his know how, to get her into the trailer, and several hard, stubborn hours. Not only was she a really big three year old, she was incredibly determined, to stay out of the trailer. Needless to say, she finally ended up in my pasture.
I worked on her ground manners, ponied her out when I went riding, and was pleased with her intelligence and how quickly she progressed. As I’ve never been one to start a horse before bones are stronger and the mind more mature, I waited until the following year to begin saddle work. As with everything else, she progressed very well, and with no issues at all. In fact, she was doing so well, that when everyone decided to go for a ride out one beautiful Saturday, I decided to go along and ride her.
I didn’t regret my choice, not for a single minute. Velvet was willing, incredibly smooth to ride, and all around enjoyable. It was a perfect trail ride on a perfect day, astride a perfect horse. Life was good, and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, everything had gone so well, I decided to have a repeat, the very next day. Everything went to plan. Horses were caught, brushed and tacked up. Velvet’s behaviour was exemplary. Not a move of complaint, as she was saddled and bridled. No fidgeting or fussing when the cinch was gradually tightened. Not even the flick of an ear as I climbed aboard. That mare didn’t move a muscle. That soon became the problem. She didn’t move a muscle. It didn’t matter how much I encouraged, clucked and cajoled. Those 4 hooves, were firmly planted. Even when the others began to ride away to inspire her, nothing. In the midst of all my tenacious persuasion, Velvet suddenly blew! She went from immovable statue, to bucking bronco, all in the blink of an eye.
Normally, that sort of thing wouldn’t be a big deal. Normally, a horse that decided to buck like Velvet was right then, would be ridden until she bucked the need to do so, right out of herself.
This was a rare time, where doing so wasn’t a good plan. The property I rented, had a home on it. The people who owned said home, were having a barbeque. A barbeque with many families, and even more kids. Well, those kids saw the action going on, and ran towards us to watch the goings on. What was going on, was that Velvet and I, were headed straight at them, with no signs of quitting. I would get her turned away from them, only to find we were now headed for all kinds of hazards.
This went on and on, switching from heading towards the kids, then back towards the hazards. There seemed to be no choice. I was going to have to bail then continue this bucking discussion in a safer place. To my way of thinking, if I got off, Velvet would stop bucking, problem solved.
Not problem solved. I was stuck to her like a woodtick. I hadn’t gone off a horse in years, and certainly wasn’t a stuntrider. I kept planning when to jump off, but kept changing my mind. Now, I’d think, only to let the moment pass by, over and over again. All the while, Velvet kept right on avidly putting her all, into bucking me off. When I finally bailed, of course it didn’t go well. I was going off, her powerful rump was coming up, we connected and away I went, only to land right on my arm.
I’m incredibly stubborn, and though my arm ached, I refused to believe it was broken.
“Go ride,” I encouraged the others, “I’ll throw Velvet in the round pen and work this out of her. Go, I’ll be fine.”
They rode off. I did as I said, then waited for their return. All the while, I kept bending and straightening my arm. It certainly ached, yet surely wasn’t broken. After all, if it was broken, surely I wouldn’t be able to bend and straighten it. Many hours later, I looked at x-rays and learned that it was indeed broken, in two places. That was the first and last time I bailed off a horse.


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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB