The problem with trying to define things as ďrealĒ is that youíre attempting to say that the way someone else experienced something is the only way to experience it and have that experience matter. Which is patently untrue no matter what. Iíve fallen several times Ė all due to mechanical failures from equipment, never been bucked off or anything similar. Iím just learning about driving and Iíve never had an accident yet (and I hope it is a LONG time coming).
The other problem is that you automatically lump everyone whose experience has been different into the category of ďless thanĒ. Instead, these are people who just have not had the same experiences youíve had, and like someone else said, you donít need to have a negative experience to know itís negative. You donít need to burn a dish to be a real chef, you donít need to get attacked by a bear to be a real park ranger, etc.
I think the original saying is meant to soothe someoneís hurting pride after an embarrassing event like a fall, but itís been misinterpreted as a mark of pride by those who itís happened to. Rather than accepting that yes, mistakes and accidents happen, people make them into something they are not.
For the record, anyone can fall off a horse. Getting back on after the fall and working through pain and fear shows bravery, grit, and determination. Falling is not a mark of something special Ė itís what happens after you fall.