It Could Be Worse…

…it could be raining.

Oh wait.  It IS raining.

My friend Hilary parked her car at work, and they haven’t been able to get in to tow it to higher ground yet.

We’ve been having stupendous rain.  The amount of rain is high, but not unusual.  What is unusual, is the way the rain is falling.  I decided to name it.  Hey if there are more than 100 words for snow…

  • Sheet rain: imagine pouring water out of a bucket: it falls in one wide smooth sheet.  Now imagine that sheet is a miles wide and a miles long, and say, you’re driving.
  • Slat Rain: sheet rain cut into slats whose width varies from 3 inches to 1/2 inch.  Comes in at an angle.
  • Flood Rain: heavy and comes pounding down unrelentingly for hours.  There is a foot of water on Bella’s patio.   Her house is on top of a hill.
  • Ark Rain:  So heavy it pushes you to the ground.  There was Ark Rain at the barn.  Instantly soaked to the skin and smashed into the mud, I simultaneously prayed for help and tried to remember how long a cubit is, exactly.

Flooded freeways, mudslides, downed trees – all from rain, there’s no wind…NONE.

I made the most excellent decision not to ride on Monday.  I was there, and right about the time I’d be swinging my leg over, an immense electrical storm exploded overhead.

Wednesday, I trekked in with supplies: extra clothing, boots, carrots, bunny graham crackers (Hudson has a new favorite cookie) and enough rain gear to last a month in the Amazon.  I felt silly.  It was normal old rain-rain.  Wordless rain.  Nothing to worry about rain.  Stopping rain.  I didn’t have time to ride, so I got Tiny set up for lunging.  The plan was to keep it undemanding.  Structured, but not work-work.  I seriously doubt any of the horses have slept well.  Just enough excercise to relax and tire him out, to give him a shot at a good night’s sleep.

The second he hit the end of the line on a 20 M circle,  the heavens opened and Ark Rain poured forth.  I now comprehend the phrase “The Wrath Of God”.  It came down so heavily that the arena roof (generously slanted) couldn’t keep up with the runoff, and ominous metallic groaning noises broke through the sound of a kabillion ball bearings slamming on aluminum.  I froze, momentarily terrified the roof would collapse.

I’ve ridden Tiny through wind/rain/thunder storms.  But the sheer volume of water was creating such frightening sounds, I was uncertain how he’s handle the situation.  I had to get to his head.  There were two other horses in the arena on lunge lines.  One huge gelding, greener than grass, the other a yearling who was melting down at light speed.  Tiny was rolling his eyes, bucking and kicking, but thankfully not trying to break away.  I wasn’t worried about the greener-than-grass gelding.  He had an experienced trainer handling him.  I was extremely worried about yearling, whose owner was “learning” along with him.  If the baby got loose, he’d make a beeline for Tiny – the calmest horse- which was total disaster potential with four lunge lines involved.  Thus the need to get to Tiny’s head.  The  yearling broke away just as I got to Tiny.  I pushed Tiny into the rail with one hand on the bridle, trying to get his throat latch unbuckled to free the reins.  I needed to lose the lunge line, still have some management potential, and do it fast.

In his panic, the yearling didn’t register Tiny out-of-the-way against the rail, and went straight for Green Gelding, who was being seriously worked with two lunge lines, dressage style.  Yearling’s flat nylon line was slithering after him, scaring him further.  Owner is helpfully flapping his arms up and down, yelling for yearling to come back.  Um yeah, if I was scared, I’d want to go right back to that, wouldn’t you?

This is the point where no available decision is a good decision.  If it goes right, we can pat ourselves on the back for being smart.  If it goes wrong, then we’re partly responsible for the carnage. It’s all chance.  I unclipped the lunge line from Tiny’s bit.  The trainer threw up her hands at the yearling to try to stop him without spooking her Green guy.  There was one second when everyone stopped.  I walked away from Tiny praying he wouldn’t move, and stomped on the loose lunge line before picking it up, and reeling in the yearling.

I am grateful I actually listen to myself occasionally. One of my rules: always wear gloves when lunging.  Always leave the Velcro unhooked.  If the lunge line caught, there is a chance it would rip off my glove, not my skin.  Yearling yanked, lunge line sliced open my glove.  (I’m a big believer in padded lunge lines.  I’ve seen a flat one take off a finger.  It’s horrific.)

It ended well.  Tiny trembled in place, the yearling’s owner thought to take hold of Tiny, so all we had to do was trade.  And get the HECK out of the arena.

That little voice?  It’s right.

Before we went in, it said: “Gee.  I know Tiny needs exercise and all, but Jane: yearling and green owner, another green horse and trainer, thinking not such a good idea?”

New rule: listen to little voice no matter WHAT.

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15 thoughts on “It Could Be Worse…

  1. tangodressage

    I love your blog! I too hate those skinny slick lungelines that burn your hands, but have never heard of anyone losing an appendage over them, now I’ll never use one again! I also never thought of keeping the velcro open so worse case scenario the glove rips off. I like your readable style that still manages to provoke thought. I can’t force myself to read straight instructional material but can be tricked into learning!! thanks!!!

    Reply
  2. lizgoldsmith

    Good tip about wearing gloves. Another reason why I no longer lunge. I like having 10 fingers.

    As for rain, I no longer will live in a flood plain. We survived a flood back in about ’93 when we lived in Connecticut that brought 3 feet of water around our house. Combination of Nor’easter and high tide. People had to be evacuated by boat! Even worse, the house down the street from us caught fire (electrical) and burned because the fire department couldn’t get to it. The day after the flooding it snowed and everything froze. Now we live on top of a hill!

    Reply
  3. enlightenedhorsemanship

    What a great story Jane. I knew you’d be suffering some of the rains, but it sounds bad!
    I’ll bet you were awfully glad to have Tiny in the arena instead of some smaller breed with a smaller, more active brain.
    Great idea about the gloves, and glad you’re reminding folks to wear gloves, and with the velcro open.
    Maybe you’ll save some fingers this way!
    Stay dry (hee)

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      The lost finger was the direct result of that mis-used T-Touch that I was telling you about? It unfairly put me off T-touch for a long time. A complete shame.

      Thank God it was Tiny. I very nearly rode Hudson, who has major noise issues. I have little doubt I would’ve been tanked in the dirt (from falling off The Big Spin N Bolt). The yearling? An Arab. The greenling? A giant Arab. Sensitive and highly reactive!

      I have to say, I was an *idiot* to go into that arena. Helloooo…not raining this second doesn’t mean not raining in 2 minutes!

      Little voice: good. Persuasive voice: bad. 😉

      Reply
        1. theliteraryhorse Post author

          Many people, including excellent horsemen, don’t use them. Maybe we have to see the bad stuff happen for the potential reality to break through our it-won’t-happen-to-me defenses?

          ***Graphic warning***

          I doubt I would have had the same reaction if I’d heard about it. Unfortunately I watched it happen, and was the only responsible adult available to (oh dear god is right…) pick up the pieces, get the ice and force the injured person apply pressure, hoping they wouldn’t pass out while we’re speeding to the ER and I’m talking to 911 on the phone, trying to get an ambulance to meet us.

          That will be with me forever in a way that hearing about it can’t touch.

          (The surgeons were able to reattach his little finger, but it never regained usefulness.)

          This may have to turn into a post. 😦

          Gloves. Wrist opening that slides easily over the widest part of your hand (no elastic wrists!), all closures open. No flat nylon lunge lines. If you can’t find padded, use cotton, preferably ribbed with rounded outside edges.

          Reply
          1. enlightenedhorsemanship

            that kind of thing stays with you, doesn’t it? I have an ugly, dark storeroom locked in the back of my brain with lots of experiences like that. do not want to open.
            Gloves are my best friend. I like string gloves with velcro.

  4. Marissa

    Wow…. talk about a disasterous situation miraculously ending up okay. I’m a fan of padded lunge lines too, mostly because they don’t break as easily. I have snapped a couple of flat ones in half when the horse on the other end starts flailing around like a marlin. Which, of course, leads to flailing 1200 lb marlin no longer contained in a circle, free to flail at will…. Great tip about the velcro too. I have a set of crochet-backed gloves designated for lunging, think I’ll leave the velco open in the future….

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      A flailing marlin, now THAT is an apt analogy! With all this rain, it could have gone very Captain Ahab. Good thing it ended well.

      I like those crochet gloves for lunging also, with the heavier leather palm, stretchy back, and nice wide summer wrist opening. I was wearing winter weight SSG’s as if I were going to ride, but they did their job, phew. Next time? Crochet backs.

      I forget things like: it might not be *your* line you pick up!

      Reply
  5. Winter

    Suddenly my fair weather rules seem perfectly reasonable.

    Glad you remain capable of touch typing, and that everyone escaped major disaster.

    (I’m never looking at a flat lunge line so casually again.)

    Reply
  6. Jen

    WOW! You have such great writing style; I was on the edge of my seat! 🙂 Good tip about the gloves with Velcro unhooked. I’ve never heard of that before. My trainer always said it was a good idea to wear gloves while lunging & I never have, but I’m thinking I will from now on. Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Michelle

    Wow, a longeline taking off a finger? Holy cow. I guess I must have been a lot luckier with my horses than I’d ever realized, because I’ve never seen anything like that. I mean, I know the rope burn stinks but…..at least I still have all my digits. Good plan, the leather gloves. Glad it all worked out in the end and you saved the day! That could have been a first class disaster….

    Reply

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