6 Horse Moves That Are Sure to Land You in the Dirt

“If you haven’t fallen off a horse, then you haven’t been riding long enough.”  ~ Unknown

As riders, there’s only one dismount we look forward to — the one where we get off on our own terms after we are finished riding our good horse.

Unfortunately, sometimes the ride (or the dismount!) does not go as planned and we find ourselves lying on the ground wondering what happened, where our horse is and if we are going to be able to move the following day.

On some occasions the unplanned dismount is totally our horse’s decision, but in other cases we need to swallow our pride and realize we were at fault for becoming a part of the pillow club.

So, what are some of these tricks and maneuvers that leave us tasting dirt and chasing after our horse? Here are six famous moves that are sure to result in an unplanned dismount.

1. The good ole’ buckaroo. This is the oldest trick in the book. As soon as your horse lowers his head, you’re well aware that you need to pick it back up or you’ll be picking yourself up off the ground. Our horses’ butts go up and we find our less-than-agile selves going down, down, down. With how frequent we see horses using this method to remove us, you’d think we’d be experts in sitting it or preventing it, but just when we aren’t paying attention, “whoop,” there he goes — followed by us going eating dirt.

2. The horse zigs and we zag. Our horses have minds of their own. We have one idea of where we want to go and, if we communicate correctly, our horse takes the same course of action. But when we don’t use clear cues or our horse is putting up a fight, sometimes our horse goes one way and we either go the other way, or stay in the spot where our horse quickly left us. How is it that our entire ride we wanted a responsive horse and in a split second he’s so responsive that he’s half way across the arena while we lay in the spot he left us?

3. The roll. This unwanted dismount is just pure evil. Without any warning, no pawing, no change in their ears, sometimes not even a change in their gait, they go down and start rolling as if they’re unsaddled in the pasture. If you’re familiar with this dismount and your horse isn’t having any pain or other health issues that illicit this response, he’s a total jerk for using this method. When this is the method of choice, your horse is adamant that you’re coming off and he will not give you any chance to stay on. You’re being ejected whether you like it or not — and you’re going to be army crawling away as quickly as you can so you don’t get rolled on.

4. The nonchalant tree brush off. The trail ride is going great. You’re having a relaxing stroll through the woods, and then your horse decides to rub you off on the next closest tree he can find. You laugh at him because he didn’t get you off the first time, just bruised your knee because the tree knocked on your leg a little hard. Your horse is laughing harder because the next tree he finds is one with a huge trunk and low branches. Now you’ve knocked your knee and gotten clotheslined and your friends are chasing off after your stubborn horse.

5. The sudden stop. Unless you’re a reiner or you have a REALLY good seat, this maneuver will throw you overboard. Whether our horse is refusing a jump or we stopped riding and didn’t realize it, our horse’s momentum will stop with him and our momentum will continue forward with us. Some of us lie on the ground wondering why our horses won’t stop like that when we ask them to, while others of us are still trying to process what in the world just happened.

6. The bolt. Sometimes your horse takes off with you and the next thing you know you’ve run through two different arenas and almost been hit by a golf cart. At that point in time, it comes down to who’s going to get tired first, you or your horse. I’m going to let you in on a little secret — more times than not, it won’t be your horse. You’ll end up in an area you had no intentions of going at that given moment. The only thing left to do is pick yourself up, grab your horse off of the stranger that wrangled him and march him back to the schooling ring.

No matter what maneuver your horse has decided to utilize to get you off during your ride, try to exercise a little self control. Please do not march up to him and angrily lay into him. Reflect, remount and reeducate your horse if the error was due to poor behavior. And if your barn has a rule like my old barn did (which was if you fell off, you had to buy the entire barn pizza), hang on. Hang on to the side of your horse, ride on the rump a couple strides, but get yourself butt back in that saddle and tighten those purse strings!

Hang onto it and go riding, Horse Nation!