How To Fall with Dignity and Grace

Because sometimes life sucks and then you fall…

Flickr/Steven Lilley/CC

Flickr/Steven Lilley/CC

Let’s face it. There is a risk in loving horses. The people who say that this sport isn’t dangerous are horribly, terribly, awfully incorrect. You can have the most well broke horse on the planet… until the lawn mower starts up next door, or a barn cat comes darting out from under the jump in the arena, or your horse has never jumped grids before and after the first bounce he decides that he liked working on the rail better.

That’s right. You guessed it. Those are all real life experiences.

Whether you ride western, English, saddle seat, or any other of the vast disciplines in the equestrian world — you are at risk. You will most likely get stepped on, its possible you will get bit, and at some point in your life you WILL fall. It is all a matter of when.

Lucky for you, I have become quite the pro at the impromptu dismount and am here to share my helpful hints with you.

Step One: Smile the Whole Way Down

 You are going to make some funny faces as you take a tumble towards the ground, but the true sign of a champion is if you can turn that frown upside down. In order to prepare myself for impact and not look like I am absolutely terrified (which let’s face it, I usually am) I try to think of something that would make me laugh. Lately, it has been this though, “Well at least Wayne is filming so we can put this on #OhCrapHN for all of our readers to enjoy…” And you look like a total bad@$$ if in your falling photo sequence you are grinning like the Mad Hatter!

Step Two: Incorporate some rad gymnastics moves

 My husband makes fun of me because EVERY time I fall, I do a fantastic tuck and roll. Seriously, if I am headed face down, I twist myself around to land on my poor hind end (I have been nursing a fractured coccyx from 3 years ago…this habit doesn’t necessarily help with the recovery process). Landing with your hands out is a HUGE no-no. I have known riders to break wrists upon impact. Talk about an ouchie moment.

I have also been known to land and jump up with my arms in the air like a gymnast at the end of their routine. I do not recommend this move if you did not land on your feet, as if you hit your head the complexity of this move could make the lights go out verrrryyy quickly. It always manages to be a hit with the crowd! With my coaches… not so much.

Step Three: Get Back ON!

On a serious note, falling is scary and dangerous. When you stand up everything inside of you is shaking and screaming to “run like the wind, Bullseye,” but you have to get back on. Not only for your courage, but to instill confidence in your horse (and your horse show husband who is cursing not so quietly outside of the arena… wait… is that just me? Oh… that’s just me). Falling isn’t just scary for you, it’s scary for your equine partner. It’s not like they expect you to go sailing solo past their head and ride the reins the whole way down. It’s likely that they are just as spooked as you are. Get up, give that horse a pat, find the nearest thing you can substitute for a mounting block and swing a leg over. In the words of the great King George Morris, “hospital or on!”

And seriously, wear a helmet. I don’t care what sport you participate in — protect that noggin. You only get one!

Go riding, friends!

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