I had a few exciting moments this morning. Jasper and Max have been going out in the arena together every night. Max is a yearling, and Jasper is a big 17hh racehorse on rehab. Jasper really likes Max and is quite nice to him, so it’s been going very well.
But this morning, Max got a bit excited when I took Jasper into his stall for breakfast first. I went back for Max and had just snapped the lead shank onto his halter when Max suddenly pulled back and got loose. He whacked himself with the end of the shank and that really scared him so he bolted. Yearlings are not very good about watching out for humans, so I got myself outside the gate and talked to him, trying to get him calm. But every time that lead rope smacked him, he ran faster. Which made the rope slap against him again. Etc. The poor little guy ran so fast he outran his own legs a couple of times and fell down.
All that was bad enough, but then he sort of veered towards the gate and I suddenly realized that he was not, and could not stop. Nor was he attempting to jump. He just hit that gate at full speed, running blind. In the two strides before he hit it, I turned and ran for my life. I had visions of the gate popping open and killing me. But since the gate is wider than the arena doorway and is hung on the inside, that’s not what happened. Somehow (and although I was watching, I am still not sure how) he was launched up and over the gate upside down. I caught a glimpse over my shoulder of an airborne horse before I ducked and kind of dove forward. One hind leg nailed the back of my arm. Oh…. about two inches above the elbow that was pinned together last fall. I guess he hit in the middle of my back with his rear end, but I was so obsessed with protecting my elbow and my head that I didn’t really notice that part so much.
Poor little Max (who is actually a remarkably large yearling) hit the ground on his back with quite a thud. He jumped up and ran down the runway to the paddock fence where he tore up and down beside Parker and Vegas for quite a few minutes before he finally tangled the lead in a small bush and stopped long enough for me to catch him. He was quite traumatized and it took a long time to get him to come back through the courtyard to the barn, since it was much too near the bogeyman-infested arena.
He lost a whole lot of hair in several big patches, has a moderately nasty cut on one forearm, and has a swollen throat. He was feeling pretty darned sorry for himself after the adrenaline drained out of his system and is likely going to come up with some swelling tomorrow. But I think he’s sort of lucky to be alive.
I had to get the tractor out to pry open the gate. It had bowed enough to jam itself into the door frame. But it’s a very strong gate and seems to be fine. So the gate, Max, and I all survived reasonably intact.
Horses do the damnedest things.