Thursday, May 16, 2013


The Trail Boss was supposed to be an experienced rider, and I don't doubt that she is. She was also supposed to know the trail.

Well, she didn't.

A small section of the trail road was submerged at Camanche South Shore, and she led us up to the water.

"How deep is it?" someone called from behind.

"Oh, maybe up to the horse's girth," she answered over her shoulder. Dink was right on her horse's tail, and he was definitely in to his girth.

At that point, all hell broke loose with a big palomino horse plunging forward on our left, leaping and violently trying to run through water that was over his shoulder. He'd gone off the gravel road and into a drop-off, and as he crashed, he threw his rider over his right shoulder into the water. But before she went off, he'd managed, in his bucking, to knock his head into hers.

I know I'm going to have nightmares about this one.

When someone else is leading a trail ride, you're supposed to trust them, rely on them. A trail boss is supposed to know the way, and keep the riders in line -- not really being bossy with them, per se, but making sure they know what it is that they should be doing: Don't leave the trail, you might run onto a rattlesnake; don't dismount and sit in the grass, Lyme disease from ticks is a danger; don't run your horse over pastureland, ground squirrels are everywhere and your horse could break a leg in a burrow.

Time went into a dream-like molasses as the bucked-off rider lay in the water, floating and moaning. Her horse splashed back to the bank we'd left and headed for the trail back. The Trail Boss sat stunned on her horse, then ordered us all back to the side. After we were all back, she got off her horse and waded into the water up to her knees and called to the victim, "Are you all right?"

In the meantime, the victim of the crash had managed to come around enough to half-lean, half-sit up, but was still moaning incoherently. Trail Boss called to her, coaxing her to come back across the water.

And this is where I started to be freaked out: why didn't she wade over and pull that woman out of the water?

I still have no idea why she didn't.

I still have no idea why I didn't jump down from my horse, shove that stupid cow out of the way, and pull my trail-mate out of the water myself. I just don't know. For twenty years, when there's a trail boss calling the shots, you obey the trail boss. I was frozen by convention.

Thank God the crash victim didn't inhale a lungful of water. Indeed, she was able to walk beside her horse back to the trailhead, not staggering at all, but plainly out of her mind, asking every twenty seconds or so, "Why am I wet?" and "What happened?" and "Why do I have water in my boots?"

Her jaw hurt a lot where the horse's head had connected with a haymaker, and she has chipped teeth, at least one of them loose. But she ambled back, able to lead her horse (or lean on him) for the partial mile we'd been riding.

She was too dippy to put back on that POS dog-food candidate, or even on any of the other horses -- if she passed out, a fall from even a gentle horse would be worse than slumping in her tracks. Back at the trail-head, we got her into a dry top at least, and into a folding chair ...

Why didn't her companion load up and take her to a doctor? Her companion the Trail Boss is a veterinarian, shouldn't she at least know some emergency protocol?

Looking back, we should have questioned the Trail Boss: How deep is that water? Ride over and then come back and get the rest.

Looking back, why didn't the Trail Boss use her cell phone and call the rangers at the park gate to tell them there had been a wreck? I know cell phones are iffy up there in the foothills, but she could have tried ...

I feel guilty that I didn't take charge, that I didn't do the things I would automatically do if I was leading a ride.

And again, thank God, at this present time, I've had a message that the crash victim is okay, still feeling a headache, but is okay.

I swear that I would shoot that horse and cut him up by hand for coyote feed, and I really don't want Miz Today's Trail Boss to lead me anywhere in the future.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

In first aid training, they tell you to follow the three Cs, in this order:

--Check the area for safety before you go charging in. No point in having another injury to whoever is trying to help.
--Call 911, or send someone else to call. Get the pros on the road ASAP.
--Care for the victim while you wait for the pros.

So yes, even if the trail boss is boss, it would have been entirely appropriate for any of you to call 911, and for someone to ride back to a location on the main road to guide them in.