Let me back up a little...
I had a wonderful trail ride with Mystic and my friend, C, on Saturday. I opted to ride in my bareback pad because my back was bothering me and the idea of hauling Mystic's new western saddle in and out of my car didn't exactly thrill me. I actually have been riding her bareback quite a bit and haven't actually tried her new saddle on her yet (for shame). It's on my to-do list for sure. Anyway, we had a short ride down the road and my mare was foot perfect.
Perfect mare is perfect
In sharp contrast to my ride on her last night, which was utterly terrifying.
There was a new horse added to the herd yesterday and everyone was a bit more excited than usual. Mystic didn't really seem too bothered by any of the excitement on the ground.
I had Apollo's verhan in my car, which Mystic has borrowed a few times. The fit is decent but not perfect. I'm hoping once I get everything squared away with her new saddle (I need to buy a pad and cinch for it still also) that she won't really be using it at all. I decided to ride in it last night, just in case some of the other horses galloping around got her a bit jazzed up under saddle.
I tacked her up and walked over to the mounting block. She was a bit more hesitant to stand still so we worked on that for a few minutes and got that sorted out.
C and I decided to start our ride by cutting through the hay field. We do this regularly and it's not a big deal. There is part of the field that gets a bit mucky and that's the only part that Mystic has ever had issue with (and the issue was pretty minor, she just was a bit tentative about walking through the muckier bits...fair enough). Last night Mystic felt good at first, a little more forward than usual but nothing major. C's horse has a slower walk so we had to stop and wait a few times for her to catch up. This is kind of where things started to unravel.
Mystic would not stand still to wait for C and her horse to catch up. She would dramatically flail to one side or the other, or start backing up. I tried to calm her with my voice and checked in with myself (was I doing something different? was I not breathing/being relaxed in my body?). I did a few circles and got a few mediocre stops. She started to settle a bit as we got closer to the exit of the hay field. Then she started spooking and scooting. I could not figure out what she was looking at. Sometimes she'd be fixated on staring back at the other horses and sometimes she was staring off into a section of trees across the road. She spooked so hard a few times that she almost fell down the slight bank into the muckier area.
I tried really hard to stay relaxed in my body and to calm her down with my voice. C was pretty concerned for me as Mystic was really not acting like herself at all. But neither of us could figure out the issue. I had a very stressful day at the office so I wrote it off as Mystic feeding off my bad vibes at that point.
C and I decided to do a shorter ride (to prevent my imminent death). We followed the exact path we took on Saturday to play it safe. I was able to get some more obedient halts and half halts out of Mystic on the way out. C thought maybe she saw some wildlife or something we couldn't see. Or perhaps riding when it was a bit darker outside had thrown a wrench into her baby brain. The sun was just starting to go down and it was very cloudly. But she lives outside.... so..... ??
On the road out she was ok. She was better than in the hay field but not quite her usual self. We saw some deer so Mystic had a small spook at them (they did kind of pop out, to be fair). When we turned around and headed back towards home... shit completely hit the fan.
She was very forward and started to tune me out. I tried to keep a sense of humor it and was hoping she would start pacing (which she does randomly when she's jazzed) so C could see how it looks, so I was joking with C about that. I added some circles and some stops. I even turned back and headed the other direction a few times. I had a few obedient moments but I could feel I was losing her brain.
Then a few vehicles passed by. This is not new/scary for us usually but I definitely felt a bit unnerved. I tried to get her to stop as they passed. She went sideways so hard that we almost hit a barbwire fence. Then she spooked hard and flew back onto the road...directly in the path of large white van. The driver was able to stop (obviously, as I am not writing this post from a hospital bed or from beyond the grave) but it was incredibly dangerous. In that moment I had zero control. It was probably one of the most terrifying moments I've had in my life. My hands are shaking as I write about it.
Pic from Saturday, same spot as we were almost hit by a fucking van last night
I dismounted and walked her home. I'm not going to say that I spoke calmly to her after that. I was fucking pissed off. We had a moment where she tried to drag me home...but after some choice words (read: beating) she was fine. She seemed a lot calmer after I dismounted.
I am honestly still in shock. I can't figure out what went wrong. Was it the excitement of the new horse? Was the verhan uncomfortable? Was I carrying more bad vibes after a stressful day than I realized? I feel like if I could figure out what went wrong, I could fix it.... but I have absolutely no idea.
I held it together well enough to untack her and put her out. I said goodbye to C and hopped in my car. And then proceeded to cry almost the entire drive from Mystic's place to Henry and Apollo's place. I was planning to ride Henry but decided that I was too rattled. I just brushed his tail (aka my zen garden) for a really long time and gave him his dinner.
I've been struggling with a lot of guilt lately about sharing my time between three horses. Mystic is (was?) my favorite horse to ride. She carried me so kindly and carefully when I was struggling with anxiety/depression issues in the summer. I felt like being a horse in regular lessons at a busy barn was a bit stressful for her (although maybe I was projecting! because it was stressful for me) so I planned for her to take over Henry's trail pony gig. I thought it would be a fun break for us. But I knew it would be hard for me in some ways - because I wouldn't see her or ride her as much. I find now that our bond isn't quite as close as when I saw her almost every day. She is a lot more bonded to other horses than she ever has been before. But she has been completely awesome for me so far on the trail, up until last night anyhow.
I don't really know where to go from here. I'm definitely going to work on getting her western outfit all set up and she is due for a trim soon. I'll probably spend a bit more time on some ground work stuff. I am really hoping this is a one-off ride and I don't need to be afraid to ride my favorite horse.
If we have any more rides like that one, she is going down the road to meet trainer RK (Henry's trainer) if he'll take her or she's coming to the property where the boys live for some Coach D rides/lessons.