If you have been riding for a while you may have already taken your first tumble. If you have not I can assure you that you will one day fall off. It is a privilege that all of us people silly enough to ride horses can look forward to.
It Happens To Everyone
I mean literally, everyone who rides. Olympic riders train for months and years for competitions. Just to end up falling off on the day that it mattered the most.
Generally, with my riders just starting out, if they fall off they brush themselves off and get back on again. Don’t let your fear of falling control you by being afraid of getting hurt. Most of the time when riders come off their horses it is just their ego that is bruised and their confidence that is broken.
Distinct Difference In Being Thrown Off And Falling Off
This is a pet peeve of mine. Which is why I think it is so important that I differentiate between the two.
When we fall off a horse, it is most likely something that we did wrong that caused us to separate from the saddle. Maybe our lower leg wasn’t strong enough, we were leaning too far forward or not looking where we are going. There are a million scenarios that could cause a rider to fall off.
By saying you fell off the horse, you are assuming the responsibility for whatever part you played in the separation.
Being Thrown Off
Being thrown off has an even more negative connotation than falling off does. Why is that? I think it is because when people hear the word thrown they envision the horse doing something bad or dramatic.
Bucking, rearing, bolting, that sort of thing. Being thrown off implies that the horse made a conscious decision to behave in a way to get rid of you. Maybe you were pushing for too much and he just exploded. Maybe his back hurts so he bucks when you ask him to canter.
I prefer not to use the term thrown off even at times when it applies because it sounds so negative. There are a lot of reasons that horses act out and misbehave. Certainly, there are times when riders are thrown off and it was the horse’s fault.
I Prefer To Say Fall Off
Instead of being thrown off I prefer to just say fell off. In my mind by saying fell off, you are accepting whatever responsibility that you may have had in the situation. Looking back on different scenarios there are often many things we could have done if we had the strength of mind to do it when we were scared.
I’ m by no means saying that people are never thrown off horses. I just use the term lightly. Whether you like it or not. Being thrown off implies really bad behavior on the horses part. People think of things like bucking, bolting, rearing or spooking. There is no reason to place all the blame on the horse when it was just a freak or random thing that happened.
At this point in your riding career, being thrown off should not be something you have to worry about. By now I think I have pounded into your head that as new and returning riders you should not be riding any horses that are known to intentionally misbehave in a dangerous way. Leave those crazies to the professionals.
The Old Adage About Getting Back On The Horse
It is true! If you fall off, dust yourself off and are good to go you need to get back on! Once assured that you are okay you should ask your instructor to help you understand what happened and why. Were there any hints that they saw to foresee the incident? Is there anything you could have done differently?
Understanding what happened should make it seem less scary. A lot of times when we fall off, it happens so fast that we almost don’t know what happened. Finding out what actually went down will hopefully be a lot less scary than the scenarios that you come up within your mind.
Speaking Of Those Dreamed Up Worst Case Scenarios…
The longer you wait to get back on that horse, the more time your mind will have to think about it. It will probably seem worse and worse, scarier and scarier, until the day you finally have your next lesson.
By then you have totally freaked yourself out, it will be harder to contain your nerves after a longer period of time. Just because you have had way too much time to think about it and worry.
So, if you are uninjured and can get back on the horse. Even if it is just to take an easy walk around the arena, get back on! This way you are ending on a positive note and won’t stew about it until the next time you come to the barn to ride.
Everyone Is Different
Some people are not phased at all by falling off. Others take more time to get their confidence back. This is where having a good relationship with your trainer. Where you are able to discuss a plan moving forward, to help you regain your confidence will be really helpful.
If your confidence was rattled it is totally normal that it would take time for you to get back to where you were before you fell off. Don’t stress over it. Do whatever you need to in order to regain your confidence slowly but surely, there is no rush! Remember, I have said it before but I’m going to say it again, horsemanship is a journey, not a day trip! Take as much time as you need!
So What If You Did Get Hurt And Just Can’t Get Back On That Day…
If you can’t get back on because you are hurt. That is totally understandable. In order to help anxiety over getting back on from building up, you should still talk to your instructor about your fall. Was there anything you could have done to prevent it? If it happened so fast that you didn’t know what happened, hopefully talking about it with your instructor will make you feel better. You won’t be hurt and wondering what the heck happened! If you are hurt and going to have to take time off riding, you might as well learn as much as you can from the experience.
To Wrap It All Up
You will fall off, it’ s not an if, it’s a when. It is not something that you should worry or stress out over. It comes with the territory, some even say you aren’t a “real” rider until you have fallen off. If that makes you feel any better!
Hopefully, your first fall is a silly one that you can just laugh off and learn from.
Words Of Wisdom
Hopefully, when you do have your first fall it will only be your ego and your confidence that is bruised or broken. Here’s to hoping your bones remain thoroughly intact!
I saw some great words of wisdom on a t-shirt once…” welcome to the wonderful world of horses where the goal is simple. Keep the horse between you and the ground!”