I'm thinking a lacrosse helmet, with full face mask, might be the way to go for trail riding. What started off as a great ride, turned into a bloodied brisk walk home and a trip to the E.R.
John was at the other barn, riding Nina again, and I'd planned to do a short ride, the lollipop loop, so I could get back and pick him up without too much waiting. Harley was at the top of hill, swatting flies when I got to the barn. I groomed him, saddled up and headed out. It was a warm night, and the bugs were noisome, but not terrible. He ambled along at a slow pace until I urged a trot out of him. He was in a lazy mood, I guess. No troubles at the trail junction (where he usually tries to turn for home), no troubles when he got through the clear cut, and no troubles at the scary rocks (giant glacial erratics seem to terrify Harley). I thought, "He is awesome tonight. What a good boy, Harley."
Once we turned for home, he stepped on the gas, doing his power walk stride. Up and over Spring Hill we went until a downed tree stopped us. I decided to jump down and try to get between the tree and a witch hazel sapling caught underneath. Maybe I could free the sapling and get by. Well, Harley tried to bull his way under and that didn't work. So he started backing up, unknowingly catching a limb from the downed tree on his saddle pad. I saw it poking him and tried to move him away, unwittingly letting in snap free, right into my face.
I stumbled backwards, trying to keep hold of Harley, and realized blood was pouring onto the ground. I took off my trusty bandanna to staunch the flow, but it was quickly soaked. Harley was only a little rattled by my stumbling around, but I felt a little woozy when I tried to remount. So I thought I'd walk a bit. Then I realized I had a chunk of lip hanging and called John. Of course, he couldn't do much. He was miles away with another horse. I filled him in on my escapade and said I was heading back to the barn and would be over at the other barn a.s.a.p. By now, I felt less lightheaded and remounted Harley (thank you for standing still for me, my boy) and we race-walked back to the barn. I didn't want to get him too hot--the sooner I cooled him out, the sooner I could get my lip sewn up!
Poor Harley got a quick wash down, not the usual hour I spend doting on him, post-ride, and booted out into the pasture. I raced over to meet John, where I was given a bag of ice for my messed up face.
Off the hospital we sped, where I got three stitches. But what I sight I am!
When I got to work, the first words I said was, "This wasn't Harley's fault." He was my four-legged ambulance until I reached wheels. Later this week, I have a date with a tree and my trusty axe!