I had done everything I knew to do to prepare Sweetwater to be ridden. I have probably put in 200 hours over the last 80 days with her. I've ponied her, driven her with long lines inside and out, loaded sand bags and milk jugs on her, sat on her bare back and with the saddle, stood in the stirrup multiple times, desensitized her to everything I had in the barn, loaded her in the horse and livestock trailers, trimmed her feet and then some, but apparently it wasn't enough.
My hope for the next step was to get on, sit until she seemed comfortable then get her to move her hip over. Things didn't go as planned. When I got on she immediately started jumping/bucking sideways to the right. I remember looking down and thinking that at least I had a good grip on the pommel. J was trying to keep her head pulled to the left and I was pulling with the left rein for all I was worth. She then pulled the rope through J's hands and was bucking full force as we got to the fence. She broke right and I jumped left. I had seen how she bucked with the introduction of the lead rope, the saddle and the long lines, and I knew I was in for it if I had tried to stay on. I landed on my face, hands and right knee, which started swelling immediately. I'm very lucky that nothing is broken or permanently damaged. My knee will be sore for a few days but it could have been worse.
I think this will be my last try with her. Maybe with hobbles and a rear leg tied up, or tranquilized (which I am not doing) someone could get on but it isn't going to be me. It just isn't worth the risk. She has come a long way, just not far enough for this event.