There is too much slack in my reins here. I am leaning forward out of the saddle. Should My Boy have jumped or spooked, I not only was in a precarious position, but would have been struggling to get a hold of those reins to get some contact and regain control of my horse.
I did not even notice the helmet until someone mentioned it in the comments section! Here is the scoop on Pony Girl and helmets. I wear my helmet a lot. I really do. This particular day, I was just working my horse over obstacles, walking and jogging. If I had been doing any loping, I absolutely would have been wearing my helmet. I almost always wear it on trail rides. I don't always want to wear a helmet though, for whatever reasons. I know it is safer to wear one. I witnessed Paint Girl fall off her mare and put a crack in her helmet. But sometimes I just go with my gut and I don't put one on. I also think that helmets can also give me a false sense of security. I might ride a little less carelessly because I am wearing a helmet.
This photo shows me using my Parelli 12 ft. line when it was fairly new (notice how white it is?) I was still getting used to working with a rope of this length. If I am working with My Boy on this line and want it short, I now try to bundle the rope into my hand, instead of holding it in a loop. It was not wrapped around my hand here, however, had my horse pulled back, the loop could have tightened around my hand.
The extra rope is hanging near my feet. What you don't see is that not much of it is actually touching the ground, mostly just the leather popper. But the potential is there to step on it, or get my legs caught up in it.
My Boy is not facing me here. He looks as if he is thinking of what our next move will be. If I remember correctly, I was preparing to ask him to go forward and away from me, which would explain why he was not looking at me. I think I was holding the carrot stick in my right hand and he was probably wondering what I intended to do with it if he did not move forward!
At the Buck Brannaman clinic I attended two weekends ago, he referred to safety several times with the participants. At one point, a rider had dropped his reins to take off his jacket. His horse caught sight of the jacket and subsequently spooked and jumped forward, which caused the jacket to flap around more, and the horse spooked even more. Buck witnessed the whole thing (he appears to have eyes in the back of his head) and did berate the poor guy a bit for not having good control of the horse before attempting this. This is something I do quite often on the trail as we are riding and get either a bit warm or cold in our ever-changing climate. It does usually require two free hands to do efficiently. But on the trail, where at any moment a duck could fly up out of the creek or a dog could come crashing out of the woods, it is best to make sure you are in a safe position, the horse is stopped (as well as the other riders you are with), and that you have a hold of the reins before attempting to put on or remove a jacket via horseback. It might seem more time consuming, but it is the little moments where one can be caught off guard and find themselves into trouble.
Has anything like this ever happened to you, on the trail or in the arena? A simple action where a decision ended up being an unsafe one? An experience that you learned from, perhaps helping you to rethink your habits and practice safer ones?