Getting right back on the horse

Canada
August 13, 2007 11:39am CST
Everyone's heard that expression about getting right back on the horse, I guess... meaning that if you "fall" (at any time, not literally just as a rider), that it's important to get right back to what you were doing so that you don't become too fearful. Well, I really did fall off the horse. I was taking riding lessons for the first time in my life (in my late 30's). The stable I chose was, I know NOW, not of the highest quality. During my lesson (and I was really a novice rider), I kept telling the teacher that my horse felt like it was stumbling, slipping or at least was on very unsure footing. She told me I was imagining it. She kept yelling at me to force the horse to go faster... which I did. As we made a turn around the ring, he stumbled forward, taking me down with him. I remember looking up and seeing this huge animal falling right towards me. I had no time to move but I curled up in a fetal position and hoped he'd miss me. He actually landed beside me, since I got thrown ahead of him. I was soooo worried for him... but I was in so much pain. Thankfully, the horse was ok except for a smudge on his nose and another on one leg. Me? I took the brunt of the injury in my chest. My left breast was black and blue for a few months after the fall and I had cuts on my arm and face. The teacher refused to accept that it was the horse -- she told me that night that it was "rider error," that I wasn't pushing the horse to work hard enough, and made me get right back on. I could barely hold the reins but there were only a few minutes left of the lesson. Honestly? I didn't want to make a scene or look like a baby about it. I went back the next week and the mother of the teacher (she was the actual owner of the stable) told me that a new guy had come in to shoe the horses the week before and he hadn't cleaned the "balls" of the feet properly... the horse I had been riding was found to be lame (along with several others)! I lost all confidence in the stable (although the mother was very apologetic... I'm thinking she was afraid I might sue them or something LOL) and my ability as a rider -- although, until that point, I had been very comfortable and was told I had good form. I've never ridden since. I do miss it but I've not gotten over the fear of falling. Do you ride? If so, do you believe (like my teacher did) that you have to fall off a horse 100 times before you can be considered a "real" rider? (yeah she actually said that). Have you ever been really hurt by a fall and had trouble getting back in the saddle? Please share your experiences... I'd appreciate the support ;)
4 people like this
5 responses
• United States
13 Aug 07
To quote Alfred Pennyworth from Batman,"What do we do when we fall down, sir? We pick ourselves up." If you are at the bottom or if you fall down, then you need to pick yourself up and do what you need to do. As for literally riding a horse, I do not like to ride animals, I think it inhumane.
1 person likes this
• Canada
14 Aug 07
I totally agree with Alfred Pennyworth, rogue13xmen13 :) Thanks for posting that! I don't believe in making excuses and really do subscribe to the belief of "getting on with things" and doing what needs to be done. I think that's why it bothers me that I'm letting fear of injury get in my way.
@khalablue (309)
• Canada
13 Aug 07
I think that expression is about conquering your fears, but to be told that you have to fall off a horse 100 times to be considered a real rider? I don't know, but to me that's like saying you have to crash your car 100 times before you can be considered a real driver. I learned to ski when I was in my late 30's, but in retrospect that is still pretty young and if you are basically healthy there should be no reason why you can't pursue horseback riding if that is your desire. Have you checked out any other stables?
• Canada
14 Aug 07
I agree, khalablue... I thought it was a ridiculous statement for her to make but I think she was also trying to downplay the fact that I got hurt as badly as I did. I sort of laughed it off (I mean, it was embarrassing in front of the others in the group who were a bit more experienced than me) and told her, "Oh well... so I guess that means I have 99 more to go." Yes, I've started recently to look into other stables. My niece took a few lessons in the spring and the stable she went to seemed to be quite good. I think I'm thinking about it LOL ;)
• United States
27 Nov 07
Yes, I had a fall before. I fell on my left side and had bruised muscles and was in some pain for awhile. It took me awhile to get back on, not because I couldn't physically but I kept "putting it off." Once I was back in the saddle, I didn't know why i waited so long. When I fell I was about 12 or 13 years old and had lost my stirrups and part of my fall had to do with my panicking about it. Then someone came into my life that changed it. I started going to another stable with another instructor and she taught me how to ride without stirrups if I had to, how to jump closing my eyes, and how to ride if I had to without a rein. Not that I would want to but just in case in an emergency I had to or more so I wouldn't panic. She taught me how to do an emergency dismount when the horse was still moving. Also, she taught me the most valuable thing - how to fall. Yes I learned to fall off the horse. You have think that sounds crazy, but I learned that if you let your body relax, you won't get hurt. And she taught me how to fall the right way. It was all just in case i found myself falling, but more so, sometimes you can save yourself from serious injury from dismounting or falling off the horse early. I actually fell off the horse on purpose a couple times and did not get hurt at all. Except for dusty pants, of course. When I went to college, I was a theater major. This experience fueled my interest in stage combat and stunts. I have never ever gotten hurt not even once even though to others I appeared to get hurt (but that was the impression that we were trying to create). On another note, you have every right to be mad. SOmetimes mistakes are made, but a poorly shod stable of horses is not just dangerous, its unhealthy for the horss. And inhumane to boot. If I were you I would find another instructor. Go to a few other stables and ask to take a few lessons at them until you find an instructor that you mesh with. She or He is out there. And when you go, explain that you are looking for the right instructor for you and don't be afraid to want to talk to them about their approach first. Unfortunately, most people who have a few horses think they can teach and its not always true. A good instructor will back you up a little after a fall that scared you. If you were jumping, they will go back to flat work - starting just to walk and trot again. If you were just starting to canter, they will take you back to the very basics. Even very high level riders start out slow when they come back to riding because it involves building your muscles back up. So it is nothing to be ashamed about. A good instructor will push you a little, but will know when you are ready. Also, they will pair you up with a horse that will be more your speed. When I was riding, I was with one horse for quite a long time until my skills changed and then I rode a different horse. The relationship and trust between you and the horse grows too.
1 person likes this
@rhinoboy (2129)
14 Aug 07
I don't think that the 'get right back on' is meant literally if you're hurt to the extent you describe!! It's a real shame that incident has shaken your confidence enough to stop you doing something you enjoy. Couldn't you try another stable? Perhaps one recommended by friends? You really shouldn't let the bad experience stop you, as your story proved that you had a good instinct to feel that something was wrong (better than that lousy stablehand anyway!) I would love to ride horses, as I haven't tried it since I was a child. Unfortunately, I'm a big guy (not even really obese, but I'm a six-footer and heavily set so I weigh about 250lb / 18st) so I'm too heavy for most horses & ponies! So get back on and enjoy a ride for me will ya?!
1 person likes this
@Sissygrl (10915)
• Canada
18 Jan 09
I am glad that you are okay.. I have never ever ridden a horse, but i must say i would love to. i know a lot of people are scared of horses because they are skiddish. . i have never been around them often, but the few i have been around have been very gentle. . tell me something.. dont horses all have different personalities just as other intelligent animals do ?