My first reaction to my mishap yesterday, was to not publish it online. But, last night I lost so much sleep over it and today I am periodically finding myself crying, that maybe it would be cathartic to write about it.
Everyone is ok. Let’s start with that. But sometimes the tragedy ends up being the “what if” that lingers in your mind and imagination.
Mark and I have been married for 17 years! And to celebrate, I planned a surprise trip to the beach with Wally and Archie and a picnic. It’s been years since I rode on the beach, and Mark never has. So I packed a cooler with lots of yummy food and a bottle of Prosecco. By the time we were ready to load, Mark had guessed at the day’s events, and he got excited too.
We went to Rocky Point on Whidbey, which was only 1.2 hours away. And we really had a nice day for it, ocean fog everywhere but not cold at all. The fog made the morning quiet and peaceful. We rode for about an hour and explored all the spooky things out there – logs, deep sand, rivulets of water etc… all those things that one could easily assume would be easy for an event horse. Archie is a funny combination of extremely spooky and temperamental as well as calm and confident. It just depends upon not only his mood, but also on just how peaked his “scream-o-meter” is in his brain. He can say NO just because he can, and he can also be genuinely terrified of something, but its hard to tell sometimes which is which.
After we conquered the tricky beach items, we enjoyed a long trot on the perfect footing – it really is FUN to ride on that wet sand. The sound of their feet is particularly interesting to listen to, if you don’t know what I mean, you got to go and try it.
After a while, I decided it was time to approach the waves, which were small. Wally had been our fearless leader all day and this was no different. We spent about 10 minutes doing the little dance as Archie experimented with trusting the situation. When he finally found himself stepping over the wave – well that is where the shit hit the fan. I was all ready to congratulate him, and in fact I had already put both reins in my left hand in order to give him my best reward. What I didn’t think of was that the waves were now BEHIND us, and his terror truly reached epic proportions. He blindly bolted straight into the ocean, and within two leaps we were over our heads.
It was like being in a car accident that would not stop. You see a car hitting you, and another one comes from the side, and another one, and then the road disappears and you are dragged and flipped and you wonder how, if ever, this will ever end.
I would not let go. I feared that if I did, in Archie’s panic, he would not be able to see the difference between the foggy sea and the foggy shore, it was all one flat monotone. And I could imagine myself screaming on the shore for him to come back, and then the awful emptiness of silence…..
Poor Mark had to witness this scare, and unlike a water jump at an event, he could not see me when I went repeatedly under. Its like the scenarios are all laid out before you, and you can’t make a choice until its too late. We are both shaken to the core.
I can’t stop imagining how I would feel if Archie had drowned. In reality, I know that it didn’t happen, but my brain has so much actual data to support that as a plausible outcome. I have the thrashing, dragging and the confusion to help my brain just take one little step to a different outcome…. And it feels very real.
I still would go back to the beach, but I am not sure I would ask a horse to go in the water again. I had so much fun without doing that last step, that I don’t feel it’s important to conquer. I’m hugging Mark and Archie a lot, so we can remind ourselves that we are still here.