Look at my Jeans. Eastern Cape, South Africa.

2 Jan

December 15, 2010

It’s 6:30 am. I’m riding Starlight, a chestnut horse, through a game reserve only a few miles from the Indian Ocean. I’m working on a horse ranch as a volunteer. Meaning, I take tourists on beach and non-dangerous, animal game rides via horseback.

This morning we have a honeymoon couple, approaching the age of 20.  One still has a year left of University.  The other, just graduated. They are blissfully unaware that it is raining, foggy and frigging freezing.

We are sauntering down a hill. At the bottom, my horse picks up the pace into a trot to gain momentum to go up the hill. It’s muddy. Slick. Like clay mud. There’s a hole. I think you know the rest.  My horse trips and falls over. Yep, rolls on me.  We’re only day 2 of my 2 week working horse riding holiday.

Starlight rolls on the bottom part of my leg. My foot is still in the stirrup. My mind is not racing. It’s just there. Watching the horse roll on my leg like an outside observer. The horse pops up. My foot slides out of the stirrup. And, I’m laying there in mud.  I look down.  All I can think about is my jeans. I have one pair. They are wrecked. I now have nothing to wear.

My next thought, thankfully, leads to my physical and mental, not fashion, condition… “did I break something…sprain something…and pain is not part of the Christmas plan…”

I look down again.  My leg and ankle are turned sideways, set in 4 inches of clay mud.  I  start to talk to my ankle.. “OK, what are we doing…We’re good, right?”

Meanwhile, Alex, the Venice Gondola driver and other volunteer, had jumped off her horse.  She’s now leaning over me, shouting at me in a thick Italian accent, “Roll on back…breath.” I think, “Roll on my back? Are you out of your mind? Have you seen my jeans?  No more mud, thank you!!”

I ignored her demands and opted to pry my ankle from the grime.  My ankle responded.  Then, I flexed my knee muscles.  Looked like no permanent damage. Just major soreness. I mean a 600 kilo horse just rested it’s torso on my leg.

I stood up.  My hip felt out of joint. Or, something was pulled there. Hell, every muscle on my right side just got a good stretch.  I walked.  Limped. And, looked around. Yep, no helicopter or car rescue here. Time to get back on the horse.

Meanwhile, the honeymoon couple just ogled at each other. I could be decapitated and they would not have noticed. Man, romantic lust has its advantages.

Starlight and I slowly meandered forward. It felt much better to be on the horse, than to walk. Not a good sign. We continue through the game reserve, walking past giraffes, zebras, and all types of antelope I can’t pronounce.  And, all I can think about are my jeans. Whose going to wash my jeans…

Welcome to day 2 of my horse riding holiday.

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