Ember Update 7

Hey, y’all! Sam here with another Ember Update. This week was very… eventful. One event in particular left me with bruises all over my body and scratches across my arm. We’ll get to that event a few paragraphs later.

As I mentioned in the last Ember Update, I spent this week focused on lunging and riding Ember. Her lunging has improved drastically, and so has her riding. Considering we only have one month until the competition show, I don’t think I can train her to lunge at liberty. Getting a horse to do anything without ropes is hard enough, but lunging at liberty is something only the best trainers manage. I’m only a teenager navigating my way through the world of equines and writing, not a professional trainer.

One thing that completely slipped my attention is just how herd-spoiled Ember is. She will go to any extent to get back to Ellie, even if that means slamming me into a fence. When I’m doing groundwork with her, she’s completely fine, but when I get on her back, she’ll do everything in her power to get back to the herd. To fix this problem, I’ve separated them. Ember’s in the front pasture and Ellie’s in the back pasture.

One thing I learned very early in my horsemanship journey is that you always end on a good note. This can be applied to anything, but especially horsemanship. If the horse throws you, then you take it back to pasture and go inside for an ice pack, that horse won. That horse got away from a hard exercise and back to a beautiful green haven. Next time you go to ride, they’ll throw you again. And again. If you let the horse win, it’ll get a big head. It’ll repeat itself time and time again. Never let the equine win.

A few days ago, my neighbor invited us to go riding in a large cowpasture between our two houses. My sister and I hastily agreed. My sister rode Ellie while I practiced on Ember. We raced around the pasture, galloping as fast as our steeds could go. Then Ember acted up. Her quick little legs disobeyed the bridle while we were running from the others. She cut back to the herd, and while I stayed on, I wouldn’t let that stand. She would learn to obey.

So, I did what any good trainer would do: I punished the horse by giving her the opposite of what she wanted. I rode her far away from the herd, then told her to stand still. She fought. She reared, pawed the ground, and backed for at least half an hour. I was sitting on a stubborn horse while my sister and neighbor were out having the time of their lives. Finally, I gave her what she wanted. Or at least, what she thought she wanted…

I let Ember gallop, but I made her gallop further away from the others. She soon tired out, then I finally pulled her to a stop. Still, she pawed and reared, fighting to get back to the herd. And still, I held her back. For another fifteen minutes, she fought me. Finally, I decided to let her go again. She galloped full speed, but I kept her going the direction opposite of the herd. She didn’t like that.

A horse is a predictable creature, but sometimes they move too fast to predict. Ember cut while we were galloping, and she made a straight shot toward my sister and neighbor. I yanked on the bit, but it was a gentle bit, one she could hardly feel. Finally, I grabbed one rein and pulled her head over to my leg. Her body - no, my leg - slammed into a fencepost. I became faint and slipped off her back while she continued running toward the herd. I must’ve laid on the ground for about five minutes, but it felt like hours.

Finally, my sister and neighbor noticed the riderless horse running around the pasture, and rode over to me. They helped me up and caught Ember. Meanwhile, my neighbors’ family-friend saw what was happening and told me to walk Ember back home, get an ice pack, and call it a day. But I wouldn’t let the horse win.

I straightened my helmet, grabbing Ember’s reins from my neighbor’s hand, then pulled myself back into the saddle. Pain stabbed through my leg, and vision as I got dizzy, but I wouldn’t let the horse win. I kicked her forward - away from the herd. When everyone else was out of eyeshot, I made Ember stand. She fought, pawing and rearing. At least an hour passed, and the sun had long since disappeared over the horizon. I groaned as Ember reared again, my leg bursting with pain.

Then, I decided I’d had enough. I lifted up a short prayer that God would calm this animal so that I could go home and rest. A couple more minutes passed, and with it, my hope. Ember continued to fight me. Mosquitoes fed from the open flesh of my arms where the barbed wire had shredded my skin. I wanted to scream at the empty pasture, to whip Ember until she finally obeyed me. But Ember was a rescue horse, she’d been abused before. I wouldn’t lower myself to her previous owner’s level.

I braced myself for another round of painful rearing, but it never came. When I opened my eyes, Ember was standing still underneath me. I waited a few more minutes to make sure she’d stay that way, and when she did, we walked back home. I untacked Ember and released her to the front pasture, smiling triumphantly despite the sharp pain all around my body. I had won.

Well, that was a bit of a ramble. The storyteller in me decided to come out, but I hope I didn’t bore you through this blog post. Comment below your most recent tumble from horseback, and if you won! Sam out!

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