First Bad Fall
I've been riding English lessons every week for about a year now and have been starting to feel super confident. They've put me on this new mare, Georgie, who is a four year old Thoroughbred cross. Great mare, so intelligent and very willing to learn.
Well we went on a hack (trail ride for my fellow Americans) on Saturday and she was antsy the whole time. I stayed calm and confident and sat through her spooking at hills and branches and signs and cars etc. etc. etc.
On our way back to the yard she was even more uppity, trying to break into a trot and tensing almost constantly. At this point I was thinking, "Oh well, if something goes wrong at least I have health care." Which was comforting to me, coming from a lower class family in America with no health care.
We decided on the way back to avoid all the hills as she was really tense and had been spooking at them all day. I found that reasonable and went to take her over the flat path.
I don't know what set her off, probably just the tension built up too much and she needed release but from all accounts she flew straight up into the air. All I remember is losing balance, falling forward, and hearing a crunch as I landed on the gravel path on my head. Within milliseconds my brain was screaming at me to get out of the way and I was up on my feet and moving away from the horse.
I wanted to, but I didn't get back on. The trail is no more than ten feet from a busy 60mph/100kmh road and her freaking out again and bolting out into the road and getting us hit by a car at 60mph was not a pretty scenario in my head.
I got back on her at the yards and went into the dressage arena. I walked her for a bit and then urged her to trot and the little hellion did it again! Not as severe as the first freak out, I sat through this one and she settled down. I walked her around once more and called it a day.
Obviously my confidence is a bit bruised, I was so terrified, I heard that crunch when my head hit and I thought about my life. Leaving my newly wed husband behind, my parents on the other side of the world having to wait God knows how long before they got that phone call. I could have been seriously hurt or died if she decided to bolt into that road.
But at the same time I feel proud of myself for handling it reasonably despite all those thoughts. I got back on the horse, I'm riding her again next week!
But I am afraid now that when I ride this horse any little thing she does is going to send me into a panic. I'm making myself ride her anyway, she's young and has low mileage. I can't expect her to not have her bad days.
Does anyone have any advice on how I am handling this situation? Am I doing right getting on her and trying to continue on like nothing happened?
Saturday was the second time I have ever ridden her, the first time the week before she was a dream. I was seriously tempted to make an offer on her. She's young but intelligent, willing, and has the potential to take me where I want to go in riding.
As far as my health goes I'm pretty sure I'm okay. Really sore in my neck and shoulder area so I'm taking a special trip to the chiropractor on Tuesday to see what damage has been done as far as possible sublaxation in my neck area goes.
I have waited way too long and worked way too hard to get this far to quit now. I'll need to find ways to relax before rides now so I don't get nervous and make the horse nervous. Any tips would be awesome, thanks.
Glad you are okay.
Yes, you probably will panic a bit at almost anything the next time or several times you ride her. But, I bet you will be fine. There are times when "get right back on" is a bad idea, and this sounds like it could have been one of them.
I think you handled it very well. Maybe just ride her in enclosed areas your next couple rides to get over the anxiety. Take it slow, that's what always helps me build my confidence back up.
I'm going to disagree with the others.
If ALL you have been riding is once a week for year? You do not have another horse that you can ride at home too.
To me there is no way you were ready to be taken out on hack on this mare.
HUGE difference in riding in enclosed space, to riding out on trails. Or even in large pasture.
Horses know when they can get away with things, and will do it in a heartbeat.
I am speaking from knowledge here too, as I used to take trail riders out, we had woman who had been taking lessons, who had ridden as child. She wanted to trail ride horse one time.
I asked BO if she didn't think we should use western tack? Was told rider would be fine huntseat. Off we go. Went over small creek and horse gave little hop, rider came off, got back on though...had to go over another, horse hopped and rider came off again, we put her up on horse I was riding in western saddle, and went back to barn.
She came back and rode lessons, but it really shook her. BO told me I had been right and she should have listened.
I think you are correct in that you are overly confident about your abilities, and also think that you need to get yourself an older horse that will teach you, that you can ride more in addition to lessons.
This horse will be nothing but a danger I fear at this point.
And frankly? Your instructor should have realized horse was getting too up, and taken group back to barn before all of this happened.
You were lucky this time. But might not be the next.
I do realize without videos of you riding that it is hard to assess your skill level but this should not have happened.
I agree with Palomine!
Why did the instructor think it was ok to put you on a green 4 year old- spooky horse? Why didnt the instructor switch horses when they seen you was havin troubles?
Im not an instructor but would have told you better anyway.
You might not know it-- but when she realized rearing up gets you off her back-- she learned a new bad habit.. she will continue to do this until someone can correct her bad behavior.
Im not bein meaan to you-- its just irksome to know a professional trainer was there and didnt offer their help or warn you it wasnt a good idea. This is what puts people off about riding.
In my opinion-- you need you a good ol 'confidence builder' to get you back to where you were-- and i do hope you continue to ride and enjoy it. :-)
Sorry guys, I probably should have been a little more clear on my riding experience. I have been riding English about a year, yes. I have been riding in total for about ten years.
I have fallen off my mare at home a few times but it was always onto soft grass in an enclosed area. This was the first time I considered myself actually lucky I wasn't hurt.
But all the same thanks everyone for the words of wisdom, it really helps.
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I think you need to go back and ride a quiet horse again until your confident.
A spooky rider plus a spooky horse is just asking for a disaster.
I tried that, after this horse part near killed me, and he almost succeeded again because I was an idiot and thought I could ride it out on him.
Don't be brave - Usually doesn't get us anywhere.
I realise people will do want they want and I was a stupid, stubborn person for MANY years (there was a saying "Get Steff to jump on, she'll ride anything!" that floated around my friends and family) but I've finally gotten my brains in the right place.
I think you handled it okay (not really your instructor, I agree with Palomine there) but as she also said, next time you might not get lucky. What if your foot got stuck? And if you're already going to be nervous riding her (which I think anyone would)?
Sometimes taking a step back is a HUGE step forward.
If you feel like you are in danger, make sure you work with a professional and don't do anything you are unreasonably uncomfortable with. A bit of nervous energy is expected and normal. We all have those crazy thoughts. But don't suck them up if you put yourself in a hazardous situation. Stay safe, God bless!
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