Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Only Those Who Never Ride....."

"....Never Fall"

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*


  1. I think we've all fallen off more than we care to admit. I know I've certainly come off enough to know you can never be sure what's going to happen once you mount up. Let's hope this last unscheduled dismount was it for us for a long time.

    You're brave to have tried side saddle I never have. Riding in those saddles looked to me like it would be really hard to dismount in an emergency situation and I was wary about getting caught in the saddle if I need to get off in a hurry. I could be wrong too, just never tried it.

    Glad to hear you're getting around better and healing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I know just how you feel. Hope you continue to heal and are back in the saddle soon. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. i can recommend an air bag body protector for that "I don't bound like I used to" feeling Jean. I never jump without mine on now.


  4. i'm thinking about getting one of those airbags as well - the hitair ones, probably, which also come in HIViz!

    but the trouble is, they don't protect the extremities, which is what jean and i have been injuring ....

  5. I too try to avoid situations where I might be in danger of falling off. I don't feel the need to prove to myself, or anyone for that matter, that I can ride through anything. I can't and I know it and it doesn't bother me at all.

    Must be a relief to be off the crutches in the house - no more barriers to try to navigate around.

  6. WHOOHOO off the crutches! Godo for you. I bet in a week you will post that you have longed the 3 horses, and hacked with Chance ^-^

    Jane Savoie has really good tips about fears of riding.
    Have a look at her website.


  7. Saw your comment on Grey Horse Matters and when I saw that you were healing from a horse-related knee injury, I felt like I wanted to come over and visit.

    I've only fallen once, unless you count the fall off my pony when I was 7 yrs old. That resulted in just a huge painful hip bruise.
    But my "real" fall happened just 3 yrs ago when my previous mare, teleported about 10 feet sideways and I lost my seat and slid off. Unfortunately when I slid off, my ACL was forced in an unnatural sideways position and ripped.
    And then when I managed to stand back up, I remounted my mare with that same knee, and probably with that movement, completely severed the ACL.
    And all this happened on Christmas Even because of my hair brained idea to enjoy a lovely ride in the snow. And I never did figure out what caused my horse to spook the way she did. Needless to say, the next day was spent in bed upstairs watching my kids open their Christmas presents, because I couldn't even walk downstairs.
    And after the doctor saw me, surgery was scheduled to replace my ACL, followed up with several weeks on crutches wearing a brace and attending Physical Therapy.
    It took me several months before I was able to walk without a brace, and then I got re-injured 4 months later when my mare was tied and pulled back, breaking the welds off the pipe rail fence, causing the pipe to slam into me and knocking me into the ground. My tibial plateau was shattered like a windshield.
    Yep..same knee, too.
    But thankfully my ACL was intact. That injury caused me to be on crutches for another 8 weeks.
    I didn't ride a horse for an entire year, and I finally had to re-home the mare that injured me twice, because I just never felt safe on her again.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. Of course, with all your riding experience (wow! Sidesaddle?! Jumping?!), it somehow comforts me to know that even experienced riders fall off and get injured.
    It's been challenging for me to re-find my passion again and push some of the fears back because I wonder if it's even possible to fall off a horse and not get seriously injured.

    Maybe that's just how I roll? I remember when I found out I was pregnant for the first time and discovered it was twins (with all the risks and limitations). I was actually envious of other folks who were pregnant with just one baby, especially after my twins were born and I had to juggle too infants.

    So, maybe I'm just the type that has to do it up big from the start? lol!

    Anyway, just wanted to stop by and say hello (and write a novella, too. lol!)