Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Star Velvet continues

After I bailed off Velvet, and everyone else, with my urging to do so, had ridden off, I focused on working the pretty, big mare in the round pen. No matter that my arm ached rather uncomfortably, she had to know that bucking didn’t result in time off, or the reward of being let out onto the pasture again. I worked her a while, unsaddled, brushed her out then walked her a bit, before putting her back into the round pen. There was a psychological game to play, and it was important to do my part correctly. She would remain in the round pen until the riders returned. Only then, after those horses were returned to the pasture, would she be allowed to join them. There is no reward for undesirable behaviour, not with people, dogs or horses. Velvet was smart. She needed to understand that simple rule, or I would create a problem I would have to fix.
After spending several hours at the hospital, waiting and being misplaced, I had a cast on my elbow. The next day, I was completely bored, and hated that I was stuck at home doing nothing, while everyone else was having fun on a beautiful, spring day. It certainly wasn’t my idea of enjoying my birthday. On top of being annoyed with my broken elbow, I had all kinds of concerns, as I was supposed to begin truck driver training, the very next day. I had a funny feeling that a broken elbow would be a problem. It wasn’t a problem, as far as I was concerned, but I was fairly certain, the school would have something to say about it. I couldn’t make a single inquiry, as it was a holiday Monday, and by noon, I was done with sitting around. I had to go riding. I couldn’t waste a whole day, broken arm or not.
Bridling wasn’t too difficult, and as I wasn’t bothering with a saddle, I simply climbed the fence then slid onto Thow-ra’s back. The mare that loved to run, didn’t ask to, not even once. At least I got a lovely ride in, on a sunny, warm day.
The next day was spent making calls to get permission from three different levels of the Manitoba sponsored, driving course, in order to still take the classes, and going to my doctor. I went from a nice, short cast on my elbow, to one that started above my elbow, and extended all the way to my fingers. As it turned out, my wrist was also broken. I attended the course, broke the cast so it acted like a hinge at the elbow, and also went riding nearly every evening. The cast had to come off after only two weeks, or my arm wouldn’t be strong enough, by the time I took my road test. I wasn’t allowed to do the test in a cast.
Velvet, well she went to a friend’s place 2 days after our little incident, and he rode her for a month for me. He really had no issues with her. It appeared that her bad behaviour was a onetime thing, and she never bucked with us again. She did however, continue to cause all kinds of trouble.
I had never owned as accident prone a horse as Velvet, and never have since. She was always cutting her lovely, velvety soft skin, or harming herself in some way. She never jumped fences or tried to get out, yet once leapt through the fence right beside me. A plank she broke, punctured that silky hide of hers, as slick as a hot knife through butter. It went in just behind her front leg, ran between her flesh and ribs all the way to her flank, then pulled out again. It was horrifying to see happen. Left the vet and I incredulous that the potential for extremely serious injury had been very high, yet somehow was avoided. Just like every other time, after healing, she didn’t have a scar to show for it. She became a wonderful trail horse, willing and brave, and a good deal of fun to ride. An older teen who began to ride her quite often, eventually became her lifelong owner.
As for me, when the cast came off after two weeks, I went to take care of my horses, only to promptly trip and fall, right onto my arm! Thankfully, I didn’t re-break it. I was amazed by how weak my arm was, and after only two weeks, too. I practiced using it doing the simplest tasks, and it felt like trying to control a wet noodle. I picked up a brush to deal with my long, wind-tangled hair, and was appalled at the sight of my arm in the mirror. It was as black as tar. I was so embarrassed that my arm had been so dirty, and no one, not the doctors, not the nurses, no one had made mention of it. A minute of good, vigorous scrubbing had no result. It was at that moment that I realized it wasn’t dirt at all. That black colour that extended for a good, six inches in each direction was a bruise! A startling, ghastly bruise, I will never forget the sight of.
Velvet made it through all her injuries without even a scar to show for it. As for me, I have an arm that occasionally locks up then releases with a big crack of sound. An arm that doesn’t completely straighten out. I should’ve listened to my head, the day I saw her, and saved myself so much trouble. Still, she finished a truly lovely horse that was dependable and trustworthy, as well as fun to ride. Yup, that’s Velvet leading the way across the river.

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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