I bet you’ve all heard the saying, “you’re not a real horse rider until you’ve fallen off 7 times”. Who actually decided 7 was the magic number? Or that you had to fall off at all to be a good rider? Ok so maybe I’m being a little biased, because if you put all my years horse riding as a child and adult together, I’ve never fallen off. Not once! I mean, there was this time when I was 12 years old where I forgot to tighten my girth, and my instructor at the time decided not to tell me to teach me a lesson. Well of course the saddle slipped, but I held on, stopped my horse and jumped off. Doesn’t really count I guess!
I’ve definitely had my fair share of near misses. When I was a teenager, this family that had their daughter in riding lessons where I had my horse on agistment, bought this evil little grey pony. I promise you this pony was the spawn of satan. They put their 7 year old daughter on him and he bucks her off quicker than a rodeo bull! I was the next to jump on. Satan’s spawn starts bucking, rearing and bunny hopping, trying whatever he could to get me off! And smack! My head collides into his neck and I’m hanging off the side. But sorry to disappoint, I didn’t fall off.
The most recent near miss I’ve had was about a year ago. I was in a riding lesson and we were trotting some cross rails and really working on establishing my position in 2 point. As a kid, I had only ever trained in lower level dressage, so this was all new for me and I wasn’t exactly great yet! We trotted over the first cross rail, and naturally the horse broke into a canter. I was feeling pretty confident (famous last words), so decided I wanted to take the next cross rail at canter. Well my horse cantered beautifully over the rails, but I was not expecting the difference in scope between trotting and cantering. So I found myself flung forward and hanging off the left side. In between a now out of control canter and hanging off the side while doing a lap of the arena, I managed to pull myself back up, all while my poor instructor is in the background praying to the horsey gods I don’t come off! I’m actually not even sure how I didn’t fall off and face plant onto the arena.
Fast forward to now, where I’m retraining my ex-racehorse, Nigel. He’s thrown a few bucks and pigroots in at the start, BUT I haven’t come close to falling off yet, and I sure as hell don’t plan to! I can imagine falling off and hitting the ground hurts, no matter how much you try to break the fall. And you know what, say what you will but I consider myself a good rider despite the fact I’ve never fallen off. I know everyone says that falling off gives you experience, and this is just my opinion, but so does staying on in a tricky situation.
One thing I can guarantee you though, is the day I do fall off, I’m positive there will be a lot of people around to see it. Would it really be a proper fall, if I didn’t get up and feel embarrassed about the 20 people who just witnessed it. Probably not!
Cover photo credit; Christine Johnson
Below photo; Training small cross rails with Sequel
This blog is the personal opinion and experience of the author. You should always seek the advice of a professional horse riding instructor or trainer for your own specific situation or circumstance.