Perhaps I shouldn't have called that last bit Easy Rider. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so smug that Magic was reshod, we had only a few miles to go to the livery yard the ponies were booked into overnight, that I had not long to wait before a warm welcome at Mary and Michael's in Gosberton. And no, I shouldn't have been chatting away on the phone to Chris telling him all this as I rode along, but you get to trust and know your ponies so well that when you are very tired, very hungry and a bit complacent, things can take you unawares.
As did Magic, when she stopped dead and refused to move until she'd done a poo, but Micky had other ideas, which definitely didn't involve stopping, for anyone, for anything, at any cost. I've read my manual of pack transportation, I know better than to attach my pack pony's lead rope to any part of my riding horse or saddle. And I fully appreciate that using a lead rope with a loop on the end is dangerous if you loop it over your hand or wrist rather than simply hold onto the end of a plain rope, but equally there are so many occasions where that loop makes the difference betwen holding onto the pack pony or accidentally letting their rope slip through your hands, particularly if you have arthritic hands, as have I. I also know that looping my riding reins around my hand isn't necessarily safe, but on a quiet lane, with bombproof ponies, I didn't stop to think.
Until with Magic refusing to move and Micky refusing to stop, I found I couldn't drop Magic's lead rope, nor could I unravel my hand from Micky's reins, and in horrible slow motion I was being pulled back by Magic, whose strength was such (as was that of my hold on him) that for quite a few seconds he was literally being pulled over sideways, until eventually my saddle went over instead of him, and I unceremoniously fell off onto the road.
Things could be a lot worse. I'm well padded, so nothing broken, there was no traffic coming, I had only a mile or two to walk to where the ponies were staying, and as fortune would have it, it was a night I wasn't faced with crawling into my tent but was able to soak in the hot bath Mary had so thoughtfully run for me, but I felt like I'd been run over by a steamroller.
I'm not in the habit of falling off - four times in the past 10 years - and at most the same again in the previous 10 - but as I've got older, what hits me most is not just what it does to my body, but how it dints my confidence. Never more so than a long way from home with hundreds of miles yet to go. Alone.