Something that is hard to communicate to my new riders is the fact that we all fall off. One way or another, the more time you spend in the saddle, the higher your chance of falling off. How you react, respond, move forward… will determine your future with horses.
When I was a child, I had a welsh/quarter horse cross that was the devil. My grandma insisted that I conquer this mare. She loved to drop her head between her knees and run off. I would bail. Every single time. Flying dismount. Jump off. Bounce off. However you want to describe it, I was not staying on that wicked pony. Princess was such a horrible ride. Grandma kept saying “the safest place you can be is ON THE HORSE!” Sadly, my 5-10 year old self didn’t agree! Then… I decided to stay on. After years of being tortured by this mare, I found my gumption and decided that I was going to ride her and stay on. I would regain the control of this runaway pony from he!! And I did. For a few moments, I was able to pull her thick head around to my knee and stop her antics. She stopped. I stayed on… until my stirrups broke 🤣 Yes, no stirrups resulted in me walking back to the house! But I did use my whole body to control the runaway freight train!!! We will chalk the last one up to equipment failure! The spicy little thing went off to the sale after that.
Princess is just the first horse that I repeatedly fell/jumped off of due to my fear of no control. Grandma had several to ride. All had their own little quirks. I could pick one of four to ride on the weekends. We had another mare that would stop, drop and roll in a tiny puddle of water. That was always fun. She was 16 hands and when she spotted any water… you were going to go swimming. Once I got her to stop doing that with me, she was… frankly, boring to ride. I started riding her daughter, Brandy. Brandy loved to take people under low branches to wipe them off her back!!! Normally, the rider would end up grabbing the branch and then walking home. About the time I decided to give this mare a lesson in manners, I was also taking English riding lessons. I discovered snaffles!!! Alas! Something that the mare would respond to without man handling her!!! Brandy and I were two peas in a pod! I could literally go anywhere on her! Yeah, I slid off her a time or two because I rode her bareback. But I managed to find some way to climb back on her so I didn’t have to walk the 4 miles back to the house!
Moving forward…. y’all, I cannot tell you how many times I have hit the ground due to horses. I have been injured pretty bad on a few occasions. It happens. I learned from each and every fall. This must be why my ground moments got more painful later in life! I learned to stay on!!!! So if one got me off their back, it was bad! I have had buzzards fly up under my 2 year old horse landing me on a fallen tree in a gully. I had been taught that we always get back on. So I did. I rode that colt back to the site of my dismount then rode back. I was in horrible shape!!! But I did it. Knock on wood, other than my tail bone and some ribs, all bones intact!
So when you are wondering why or how you fell off, think about it, learn from it, make notes and carry on! One horse I have never fallen off of is my horse Lynx. I’m not sure how or why. He is 15 and I raised him. He is an incredible athlete and could have easily tossed me around. But he never dropped me. Maybe it’s because we have a special bond? Not sure. I have fallen off others since running Lynx but not him. Learn to move with your horse. Dance with them. Be alert but be soft. Be brave but be smart. Falling off is part of the package. The more horses you ride, the higher your chances of finding the ground. Ride on!