Something happened the other day. I was riding Annie, my excitable mare. Our training was going so well. Ever since the show we've improved steadily, to the point where I was playing with the idea of jumping again. Just little cross rails, nothing big. Happily cantering around the ring, I was thinking how fabulously she felt, how much like flying! Out of nowhere she bolted out of my hands. I thought I had her when she spooked again and that did it, it was time to bale. Out of the saddle and onto the ground – Bam!
Flat on my back I let others in the ring make sure Annie was OK. I just lay there in the dirt like you’re supposed to, waiting for my breathing to return to something approaching normal. I knew I had hit the back of my head. I had a good helmet on but you shouldn’t take anything for granted when the fall is hard.
I’ve fallen a lot. Riding requires falling. There is no avoiding it. Annie is sweet but not what you would call bomb-proof. This fall wasn’t my worst, I’d rank it second to the worst. So I lay on the ground, looking up at the sky, assuring my trainer that I could breathe and respond appropriately to her questions. Slowly I moved my hands, arms and legs, everything in working order. Then I rolled over and got up.
Walking around a little, all I could think of was, ‘I’m going to have a headache’ and getting back on. I had to get back on. Why? There wasn’t anything to prove. No one would think less of me if I didn’t.
I’m not sure I know even now. I think it has something to do with not wanting to live with fear. I did not want to be afraid of my horse, afraid that I didn’t have the skills to handle her, of knowing it could happen again. There's a reason why 'getting back on the horse' is a saying for not letting the fear get the best of us.
So I gathered Annie's reins, got back in the saddle (Ouchy! My butt hit the ground, too.) and under the watchful eyes of my trainer we walk-trotted with some degree of grace to end the lesson reasonably intact, body and mind.