That's an old horseman's saying that always echoes in my head after I've gone off. And in my riding career, I've gone off a lot of times.
I've been hurt a few times too, with a broken wrist, some kind of damage to my shoulder, back pains, cuts and other bruises, and the worst injury of all, bruised pride. I've had some embarrassing moments on the ground for sure, most of the time with only my horse as witness. One of those moments came when Toby pulled one of his fast sideways spooks. I rode with it, but when he slid back into place I simply slid out of the saddle to end up landing softly in the briars with Toby looking at me as if to say, "What the heck did you do that for?"
More spectacular moments included having my horse fall with me, leaving me not much more option than an unplanned dismount. I've gone off over fences, gone off because my horse has bucked me off, gone off due to spooks and bolts, and just generally for no reason at all.
The key to riding is keeping the horse between you and the ground. Generally, keeping one leg on either side of the horse works well. (Something I should have remembered this last time when I decided instead to swing off Chance's back instead of trying to ride out his reaction to the minibike.) I did ride sidesaddle for a while and never did go off that way, although I didn't really try too much exciting riding and stayed in the arena on my "hunter on the flat." Some people claim it's really easier to stay on a horse sidesaddle, but I'm not so sure, unless being kind of "hooked in" by the upper and leaping pommels really does give you a more secure seat. (Never got the hang of jumping sidesaddle myself.)
The fact is, once you climb on the back of a horse, seating yourself five or so feet above the ground and then decide to move the both of you, falling off is always an option. My trainer used to tell me not to think of falling or getting bucked off when I rode Tucker. He felt the power of negative thinking was not going to help either of us get any training done. When I really focus on my training and riding, I don't think about falling, actually. And, for the most part, I don't ride with fear as my companion.
But as I've gotten older, I also know I don't bounce quite as well as I did as a youngster. As much as I loved jumping, that's one of the reasons I gave it up. Now, I try to avoid the situations that might get my horse and me into situations where one or both of us might run into more than we can handle.
That's why I was out riding on a Wednesday afternoon. The woods should have been quiet and free from the scary weekend, after school and holiday ATV/Minibike riders.
But alas. The best laid plans.....
I'm off my crutches in the house and will soon be walking outside on two functional legs with no added support--I'm a little cautious of my balance and muscle security on my left let still. That means I'll be back in the saddle in a few weeks.
This time I plan on staying there once I mount up. *G*