Lessons Learned: Everything Hurts & I’m Dying

Alternate title: No-Stirrup November claims its first casualty of the month. Columnist Ainsley Jacobs reports on her most recent lawn-dart incident.

Apparently baby horses are scared of nail guns. Who knew? Photo by Halliea Milner/Go With It Farm

Apparently baby horses are scared of nail guns. Who knew? Photo by Halliea Milner/Go With It Farm

And the award for “shortest amount of time it takes to fall off during #NoStirrupsNovember” goes to… me!! I didn’t even last 30 seconds.

Here’s the story:

Ah, November 1st. It’s a time to enjoy crisp fall days, fun seasonal flavors (yes, I’ll jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon… no shame here!) and riding without sweating. Wait, scratch that last part – it was 84° when I rode today. It’s also the start of No Stirrups November! My lesson buddies, Beth and Camryn, were ready to fight the good fight. In preparation for the struggle that was to come, we tacked up, removed our stirrups, and walked our horses down to the flat arena at Go With It Farm.

A new barn is being built alongside the arena, and there was some (very minor) work going on at the time. The cute little baby Quarter Horse (actually, he’s kind of huge – bigger than JJ) that I was riding, Gator, can be a touch spooky at times and seemed a little upset by the noise the generator was making. I mentioned to Cam that I had a feeling there would be shenanigans, but she had faith in Gator’s ability to behave. Famous last words!

As we walked, yes, walked down the long side of the arena, we only made it halfway before Gator started shuffling sideways to get away from the generator. As he was debating whether or not an all-out spook was needed, someone started using a nail gun. Cue baby-brain flip-out mode because, well, apparently nail guns are scary!

Trying desperately to get to safety, Gator turned and bolted across the arena while I desperately hung on trying to save myself. I stayed on a surprisingly long time (albeit at a 90° angle on the right side of him) all the way from the rail almost to the center line before he made a sharp move to the left and dumped me.

Truth be told, hanging on for as long as I did helped me from getting hurt; if I had gone off right at the start, I would have landed on my head/shoulders. Since I was able to keep myself fairly upright during Gator’s panic, I managed to make a very ungraceful unscheduled landing on my hip/butt.

After I hit the ground and knew I was okay, I couldn’t help but laugh. I suspected that I would hit the dirt at some point during No Stirrups November, I just never thought it would happen so soon! And, I was super bummed that it was too hot for me to wear my awesome new Everything Hurts and I’m Dying shirt… ’cause that’s a totally normal thing to think about immediately after falling off, right? Oh well, I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities in the coming weeks!

This Ride Heels Down shirt has never been more appropriate... happy No Stirrups November! Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

This Ride Heels Down shirt has never been more appropriate… happy No Stirrups November! Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

My wonderful, beautiful, talented, gracious, and kind trainer (is that enough sucking up?), Halliea, allowed me to put my stirrups back on for the remainder of the lesson, because, well, because Gator. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

It’s gonna be a long, long month. Happy No Stirrups November!


Stirrups are a lot like fire extinguishers: it’s better to have ’em and not need ’em than to need ’em and not have ’em. There’s absolutely no shame in keeping your stirrups on your saddle during No Stirrups November, especially if you’re riding a young/spooky horse with baby brain. Safety first, y’all!

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February, 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com.

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