What the Buck

What the Buck

There’san old cowboy saying – there ain't a horse that can't be rode, thereain't a man that can't be throwed – and I learned the truth ofthat the hard way this month!

Aftersurviving my off-the-track thoroughbred for the past four years, I pretty muchconsidered my Andalusian mare, Mina, a sedate walk in the park by comparison.

WhereasLucky had regularly scared the hell out of me in our first 18 months together thanksto unpredictable explosions of high energy that are pretty much the hallmark ofsuperhot ex-racehorses, Mina was stocky and sturdy and easy to sit to, nomatter what she did.

Don’tget me wrong, she was never a plodder, even though I inherited her overweightand relatively unschooled. She would turn on a pinhead when spooked, occasionallybolt – though nothing worth noting on Facebook – and she would sometimes throwin a bronc that actually felt quite comfortable.

Ohyes. I really thought I had nailed this riding thing.

Mymisplaced confidence had been further compounded a couple of years ago by thecomments of the international trainer Judy Bradwell who, after watching Luckygo ballistic because there were two escaped donkeys in the yard, told me, “Youhave good stickability.”

Now,what I should have taken note of at the time was not so much the ‘good’, butthe ‘stickability’ because stickability is not quite the same as skill. Anyway,I didn’t and so I trundled on getting more and more confident with Lucky, andmore and more complacent with Mina.

Andeverything was fine … while it was summer.

AsI’m sure many of you know, Cyprus summers are hot. Temperatures reach anaverage 33 degrees in Paphos and 80% humidity. These are not ideal ridingconditions – and you have no idea what a godsend the Aqueos Anti-Bacterial Tackand Disinfectant Wipes are until you are drowning in your own sweat and racingto get back under the air con.

But,of course, summers don’t last forever, not even in Cyprus and like horseseverywhere, when they feel the first winds of autumn get under their tails,they can mutate into something requiring more skill than stickability.

Threeweeks ago, this was the case with Mina.

Itwas like a perfect storm; the weather had cooled overnight, the wind was up,there were men in the banana field next door and we were in the arena withanother spooky mare. So, with the first unexpected movement, Mina bolted andrather than stopping her I did what I always did, I sat in the saddle, chilledto the point of comatose and lazily pulled her up. However, before she cameback to me, Mina did something unexpected – she put her head to her knees andbucked like a bleeding rodeo star!

Somehow,I survived the first four. We stopped, I caught my breath, I turned in my seatto check what was happening behind us and she took the opportunity to go again.This time there was no saving me. I was off. Felled by my own arrogance andstupidity.

Luckily,I wasn’t hurt, and though it was a hard lesson to learn, it was a lesson thatneeded learning.

Thanksto my trainer, I am becoming a stronger and more competent rider each week. Butit’s horses that make you wiser. And no matter how good you are, or how good youthink you are, there ain’t a cowboy that can’t be throwed.

Becareful out there.