|Beach approach - Normandy Beach, NJ|
|Our beautiful Atlantic...|
|Getting ready for 4th of July fireworks show, held in honor of my dad who loved all things that went "BOOM!"|
*One of my favorite lesson mounts as a kid at Tricorne Farm was the wonderful Peter Pan. Peter was a buckskin large pony, about 14hh, of indeterminate breeding. This boy was full of ponytude, but he could jump the moon. Purportedly at some time in his career someone had taken him over a VW Bug! I remember being told that story and somehow not doubting it was true. I don't really recall now why I liked Peter so much; whether it was his devil-may-care attitude, athleticism, or comfortable gaits, I'm not sure. However, I do remember the time he nearly - and I'm afraid I don't exaggerate - killed me.
I was about 10 years old, and we were on a group trail ride instead of a lesson. To get to the trails we we had to leave Tricorne by the front entrance, cross a road, and then immediately cross another road (we were right by an intersection). Then we would go straight up a small but steep hill. The initial trail forked near the top and sometimes we went one way, sometimes the other. On this particular day, our trainer had warned us that when we went up the hill we were to take the left branch of the trail, not the right, but she didn't say why. Peter and I clip-clopped across one road, across the other, started up the hill, and then.... when I tried to turn left, Peter decided he was going right. He yanked the reins out of my hands as I was leaning forward trying to grab mane and lunged upwards.
The next thing I knew, there was a tremendous blow to my chest and I was lying on the ground. A large branch had fallen directly across the trail, just high enough for Peter to fit under it but not me. I had the wind knocked completely out of me, between the branch hitting fore and the ground hitting aft. I couldn't move, and lay in stunned shock trying to figure out what had just happened. Of course the tears soon came and I know I was totally hysterical. Everything hurt. Peter, to his credit, did not go far once he'd unloaded me in his little burst of freedom, and eventually I was able to mount up and ride him back to the barn. The trail ride obviously was cancelled.
The real issue with this incident came afterwards and still haunts me. What if that branch had fallen just 8" or so farther from the ground? It would have connected with my neck, not my chest. And I'm sure I don't need to tell you if that had happened, at the very least I would not be sitting here today typing with both hands. I was very, very lucky, indeed. I know for a fact that other trail riders and foxhunters have not been so fortunate.
I still loved and rode Peter Pan after this plenty of times, including the time when he ran off again and carried me right into the road - I can't put that incident in "falling-off stories," since I stayed on, but gee whiz, I guess the guy must have really wanted to do me in!