When We Fall

Falls are inevitable when it comes to riding horses. If we never fall, we don’t ride enough! While falls should not be frequent, they are bound to happen from time to time. What do we do when they do?

Do we get right back on?

We are told from the first day we begin riding, “when you fall off, get right back on.” This may be the thing to do in the beginning of our riding careers, so that we do not lose our nerve. Also, those early falls are rarely serious; for kids can just right off and be just fine!

Obviously, if we are injured we should not get back on. But I think as soon as we heal up, we should get on – at least for a light ride.

But what about those other falls?

You know, the scary falls in which we were bucked off. Or maybe we were thrown into a jump. The falls that sting, but don’t truly hurt us. The falls that frighten us. Do we get right back on?

I don’t think getting right back after one of those falls is always the best idea. If we were thrown because of a behavioral issue on the horse’s part, and our nerve has been shaken, it is not always smart to get right back on. For example, the times Chance has bucked me off I did not get back because I know that once he is riled up enough to act that badly, he is not going to settle. Then if I get back on while nervous and shaken up, he will feel that and likely act worse. In those situations, I have found it better to put him on the lunge line – then get back on him the next day when both of us are fresh. That works for him. I may be a little nervous, but he is usually very forgiving of that and very good if I wait till the next day. It is almost as if he feels guilty.

When I taught riding lessons, my boss and I would sometimes get on horses/ponies that had just thrown their kids. We would get them to settle, or go over the jumps, then put the kids back on. Putting a nervous kid on a horse that is already misbehaving is not always a good plan. And, it is really hard to not be nervous after falling off! I think horse people need to stop this thinking that we have to be “tough” all the time! Sure, we have to be tougher than the average person, but having fear and nerves is natural and we have to deal with it. Dealing with it does not always mean doing what scares you. Sometimes it means taking a step back.

I also think that every horse and rider pair is different. I had one horse that would be really sorry after I fell off. He wouldn’t run away, but stand over me calmly. I would get back on, and he would be perfect. I think it all just depends! I think as long as we get back on soon, we will be good!


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