1) Things probably started to go downhill when I made the decision to try a new and challenging ride after three hours of hard labor in our garden. And after giving Raven four weeks off due to copious rain and my travel schedule. As they say: common sense isn't all that common.
2) We crossed the railroad tracks, the bridge and the highway without incident. Raven scooted up and down the gully to get onto the dike like a pro, listening to my aids and responding beautifully. After warming her up I let her loose and hunkered down like a jockey while she blew off some steam. About 30 seconds later I saw one of her hoof boots fly off, but she was still raring to run when I pulled her up. Only the gaiter from her front right EasyBoot Epic remained wrapped around her pastern.
3) Raven jigged back the way we had come, not best pleased to be going so slowly. The boot was in the middle of the dike so I hopped off and tucked it into my shirt. She continued to jig around as I remounted, and she took two unfortunate steps backwards just as I was settling into the saddle. Panic struck when she started to slide down the slope of the dike, and she reared and twisted when I grabbed too hard at the reins to keep my precarious balance. I attribute the fact that I kept my seat to recent review of this video (and to a pear-shaped physique contributed by the maternal half of my genetic equation). It wasn't that extreme, but I was able to handle it in much the same way.
4) We crossed back over the highway and the bridge under more control, and I dismounted again when Raven started to limp on the unprotected foot. Then she started jigging around in-hand on the the long walk home, so I did some Clinton Anderson exercises to keep her working and thinking. At one point I was asking her to flex her neck and yield her quarters (obviously from the wrong position) and Miss Thing reached forward with her hind left to nail me on the right thigh. We had a brief, intense and unambiguous exchange of opinions about this, and the rest of the walk went smooth as silk.
On a more positive note:
1) I think we lost the boot because the shape of that hoof has improved so much. I will replace it with a #1 instead of another #2.
2) Without the bitless bridle I would have been a goner during the rearing episode. She will never ride out in anything else.
3) Raven's "whoa" is getting more solid. She hardly attempted to break it at all today, and was much less fidgety.
4) Despite the rocky ride I feel closer to Raven than ever. Her strengths and weaknesses are crystallizing in my mind, which leaves me feeling more confident about anticipating her reactions under saddle. When she is thinking clearly she tries so hard to please -- it is hard not to love her (even after she almost rears you off and then kicks you).