How to Overcome Your Fear of Falling From a Horse
After falling from my horse, he simply looked at me from the above, sniffing me with his gigantic nose and wondering how I dismounted so quickly..
It eventually will happen sooner or later to most avid riders, but really the way you react to a fall from a horse is ultimately what will make the difference. You may turn the event into a positive learning experience or you may cause the fall to haunt all your future riding experiences. If this is the latter case, not all is lost, with some patience, lots of practice and some common sense, you may overcome your fear and go back to enjoy riding once again.
Falling from a horse, is something quite common in the equestrian world. As a matter of fact if you watch many equestrian sports you willnotice that often even the most seasoned riders eventually fall from their horses. Falling is often caused by inexperience, a distraction, equipment failure and often, simply bad luck. In many cases, there is nothing you can do to avoid a fall so it is a great idea to accept this possibility and mark it as a normal chapter or riding. After all, most sports have people falling, think of cyclists, skiers, and the most notorious of all: bull riders.
Following are some tips on how to overcome your fear of falling off your horse:
- Learn How to Fall
Yes, this is correct. By learning how to fall correctly you may significantly lower your chances of injury. There is a special technique so to minimize the impact to the ground, thus minimizing the chances of injuries. According to the book Life in the Galloping Lane by Karen and David O'Connor, it mainly consists of tumbling to the ground with no legs or arms sticking out but simply tucking and rolling off and away from the horse's hooves. Holding on to the reins is generally not recommended, as this may dislocate your shoulder and give your horse a strong yank in the mouth that may startle him and hurt him.
- Remount Right Away
If you are in riding school, very likely your instructor will tell you right away to check first if you are OK and then to remount and go on riding as if nothing happened. This is one of the best psychological lessons out there available, one that is often used as a metaphor for people dealing with various fear related issues. More often than not, if you are not going to remount because you are too shocked and fearful, you will practice future avoidance techniques that will only increase your fear. Simply remounting and not making a big deal of the fall, will help you really ultimately do that: accept it and drive on.
- Use Safety Equipment
Often, fear of falling off a horse is caused by a fear of getting injured in a fall. One of the best ways to prevent this is to invest in helmets, crash vests, safe boots and safety stirrups. Safety stirrups in particular along with safe boots, will ensure that your foot does not remain trapped in the stirrups risking you to be dragged away by your horse.
If you start getting anxious about falling, try some breathing exercises and calming, rational thoughts. Don't imagine yourself falling to the ground, but instead envision yourself in control, or at least, being able to fall safely and remounting successfully. Don't let the fear haunt you and ruin your love of riding. Rather, take advantage and minimize your chances of falling by riding more. After all, falling from a horse can be a great learning lesson: because nobody really likes to fall, you will very likely try to do your best to learn how to avoid the likeliness in the future. This ultimately, is what makes a better rider.
Testimonies: How I fell off my horses
I have been riding horses since I was a child and owned two horses that taught me a lot. In more than 10 years riding horses, I have fallen off three times. The causes were various from equipment failure, inexperience and distraction. Here are my stories:
1) Falling from a Bucking Horse
The first time I fell it was sort of out of stupidity. I was riding at the riding center and had assigned a pretty calm horse. My friend instead, got a horse that enjoyed to buck. She did not know this until it eventually happened, the horse bucked and she got scared. So she asked me if we could change horses.
I was not really experienced with horses that liked to buck, but I liked the challenge. I also wanted to show her that I was able to handle her bucking horse. So off we went. The horse bucked a couple of times and it was no biggie. We were returning back to the riding center and I was counting my blessings, because I was able to handle the bucks.
However, then we decided to change route and we went towards a hill. A kid with a motorcycle started to chase us, just to get a kick. My horse started bucking really bad. Off I went, flying bringind my dignity to the ground along with me.
I got up, the kid offered me a ride back to the center as a favor (and perhaps as a way to apologize) while my horse returned on its own to the riding center quite startled. I was unable to remount in this case, because the ride was already over. I still feel bad because as I was leaving I saw my instructor beating my horse for being bad...
2) Falling from distraction
I was riding my 15 year old Holsteiner gelding Danger on a quiet rural path. For some reason, I got really used to riding bare back that the saddle oddly made me feel unbalanced. I felt like if I was higher and my inner legs had no contact with the horse's shoulders. This lack of adhesion, simply made me feel vulnerable, yet, it is odd because I know it is easier to ride with a saddle.
However, I was riding with the saddle, when suddenly my horse got excited and decided to go for a run. I was unprepared and distracted and ended up just sliding off my horse's neck. After falling from my horse, he simply looked at me from the above, sniffing me with his gigantic nose and wondering how I dismounted so quickly..
3) Equipment Failure
After I sold my 15 year old gelding, I got a 12 year old bay mare called Malbora. I still had Danger's saddle, so I thought to use it on her. She was a petite horse compared to Danger which was a former tall and big police horse.
Everything was going well, until we started descending from a pretty steep road. Suddenly, the saddle too big for her and because of gravity, started to move forwards with all my weight. I literally ended up riding her for a few seconds with the saddle almost on her neck!
I eventually slowly fell, in one of the most ridiculous falls ever. I wish it was caught on tape, because it must have been quite spectacular. I only broke a nail in this fall and I am happy that I really never got seriously injured in my falls.
If you have any stories of how you fell from your horse or want to add something interesting, feel free to add in the comment section below..
Some s..afety gear
Foot slides free in the event of a fall.
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