It was a good day with horses, particularly since I had my second fall off of Pie, and it wasn't too bad, although this old lady of almost 60 is going to be a little sore tomorrow.
But before we get to that, I did some experimenting today on offering softness to Dawn and Pie from the start in our rides, and the results were amazing. In our warm ups, I was careful to offer a relaxed, following hand, and to take up the reins as quietly and softly as I could. Both Dawn and Pie responded very well to this - I got no bracing at all with either horse in any gait. Pie has tended to brace in the halt and back early in our rides, and there was none of that today. I also tried very hard to direct him with my focus and legs rather than the reins, and his straightness was greatly improved.
Also, we had a visit from our excellent dentist, Mike Fragale, today. Pie had been done earlier this year, but Red had missed Mike's earlier visit and needed to be done. The last time Mike visited, Dawn had several fractured molars and he removed pieces of them - he checked her out and everything was good - the areas where fragments had been removed had healed, and there were no sharp edges that needed further attention.
As the old man who sold me Pie said, he's still a young horse and there's still a spook in there. Pie is one of those horses who could care less about things he can see - equipment, flapping plastic bags, it doesn't matter, he's not concerned about it. But things that appear suddenly, particularly on his left side (or this could be coincidence), can spook him, and when he spooks he makes a big move that often involves a roll back as well as a sideways move.
We were riding in the indoor arena, and a lady was working in the stall that was closest to one of the doors. Just as we rode by, while she was in the stall, she suddenly stood up. Pie instantly relocated about 12 feet to the right. If I'd been sitting the trot (note to self: more sitting trot even though Pie's sitting trot is bone-jarring), I might well have stayed on, but I was posting and his move caught me in the up phase. At one point in the fall, I had my leg in the left stirrup, Pie was well to my right and my right leg was in the air, and I was still holding the reins - not a very sustainable position. I landed butt first, then hit my back and finally my head (and yes, I was wearing a helmet - I always wear one - guess it's time for a new one). I wrenched my right shoulder and neck a bit by holding on to the reins too long - I got some dirt down my clothes since Pie dragged me a few feet until I let go of the reins. After a few moments, I got back up and got him - he was standing about 20 feet away - got back on, and we did some more trot work in the area of the door. He was worried about the "dirt angel" I'd made, but got over that fairly quickly.
Unlike my last, very serious fall, this one wasn't too bad. The arena had just been dragged, so it wasn't too hard - although it felt plenty hard when I hit. The body protector I always now wear when trail riding would have spared my lower back, but the soft arena surface was pretty good. Pie wasn't too worried about my fall since I got back up and back on and he was able to do some nice work.
Gravity always wins . . .