This is not a statement of weakness, any more than a snow skier saying they fell on the slope or a basketball player missing a free throw.
It’s what happens when riding horses.
My earliest memories revolve around riding horses. I actually started to help with the training when I was around 5 and my mom would lunge them with me on top. I don’t think she would have done that if she felt the horse were unsafe, but it was a good learning experience for me.
I started showing once we moved to Colorado. I was about 10 years old. I know I did some Western Pleasure before that, I had the fanciest polyester suits you ever saw!
I wish I had pics of me in one of those!
Buffy was my first real horse, my own horse that nobody else was allowed to ride. I trained her up from the ground and we broke records in arenas all over the state and some of those records – I hear-still hold.
She was my best friend when I needed one through my parent’s divorce. I don’t even know how many times I came off of her, lots, we’ll just say lots. She had a lot to learn and so did I. We kind of grew up together.
A tragic accident left Buffy with a broken leg. I finished out that particular season on my mom’s horse, Rocky. But after that, I was on my own.
For my graduation gift, my dad gave me CJ. He was actually a grandson of Buffy, which made him even more special. Another horse I got to train from the ground up.
By the time I was a senior I had trained numerous horses for other people, my first payment for training was a saddle blanket that the lady wove herself. I used it in many parades! I’m sure I had been bucked off dozens of times by this point, I was rather good at rolling out my landings.
CJ and I worked together very well. By this time I wasn’t as interested in competing, but more just riding for pleasure. He was such a willing horse! In this picture, I’m pregnant with our first child. Shortly after this was taken CJ went to my sister as we couldn’t afford a horse and a baby at this time.
I would ride every chance I got. I was blessed enough to have parents who continued owning and showing horses. both mostly with team roping. So when I visited them, I also visited their horses (not much different than now!) I wanted my kids to have every opportunity to get on so they would feel comfortable.
Then I was able to get Tigger. This huge gelding stole my heart! He had so much power and energy, I love that in a horse, it keeps me from getting too comfortable. He would do anything asked of him, sometimes with a bit of coaxing.
I had to say goodbye to him when we decided to move from Colorado and continue our education.
I led you through that long history of me and horses because I think it has bearing on me getting thrown last weekend.
We were visiting my dad and [as always] we headed out to the horses!
Most of our time was spent on these two tame beasts.
So here’s when we get to the good stuff. Dad told me about Romeo. A 4-year old that he had bought and sent out to several trainers. 2 sent him back after just a few days saying “no way”! One claimed to have ridden him but the results weren’t trustworthy and a little questionable.
This made me rub my hands together and beg to ride him. To my dad’s credit, he said no, not unless Bill gave the thumbs up. Bill said to use my own judgment. So I did.
Day 1 was mostly groundwork, mounting, and walking around (no pics from day 1).
Day 2 started the same, groundwork to begin with. It was suggested by dad that I should probably work him a little longer on the ground before hopping up. And now in retrospect, I can see how that might have been a good idea.
But when I got on him he was mellow as can be, we walked and then broke into a trot – new ground for us. He started pitching, but I rode him through it and calmed him down, and then tried again. He did fine until I urged him into a canter.
I feel like this is a good time to explain the photography. Danni was using my phone and it had 3% battery left. The LCD screen was black, so she was just guessing and clicking, I think the photography adds a special flare to the events!
I’m a little embarrassed about this shot, holding the saddle horn – yikes! But I’m pulling him in from his fit and actually could have (in retrospect (so many good ideas in retrospect!)) calmed him and been alright.
But no – I decided to ‘cowboy’ him by pushing more energy into the situation. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, I’ve been able to use this method on some horses – after I’ve gotten to know them a bit. But some horses won’t have it and will rise to the challenge, playing the game wholeheartedly! Horses like Romeo. He just let loose!
You’ll notice I’m still holding the reins with my left hand. Something I have always been taught not to do, but still do it anyway. I have been drug around an arena because of this bad habit. fortunately I did let go upon landing.
I didn’t know at the time that my 190 + lb body careening onto my right hand had caused a radial head fracture. I just knew that things were a little sore.
My phone must have died, or Danni was too traumatized to continue pictures, but I want it to be known that I did get back on him! Looking back through my years of riding I can’t recall a single time I didn’t get back on. The time I lost 4 of my teeth with Buffy, the time I broke my foot working a friends horse, the time I came off into a barbed wire fence (Buffy again – man we have some good memories), the time I rode a crazy paint on the gravel road and he threw me hard (one of my friend’s dad bought him and he never gave him an ounce of trouble!), and many many more times that have probably been knocked out of my brain.
I’ve never not gotten back on, even if it was just to sit and converse with the horse for a few seconds, or ride around the ring a few times (like I did with Romeo). That is a lesson for both horse and rider. The horse needs to know that while he might have shook me off for a bit, it’s not a permanent thing and maybe next time it won’t be worth the effort.
The rider needs that assurance too. It’s used as a cliche now, but getting back up on the horse has given me so much confidence and strength. Now, if I was in excruciating pain and knew that I would die if I didn’t get medical help, that might be an exception.
No regrets! I have to deal with this little elbow issue (I’ll blog more on that later). But the falls are worth the rides! Feeling the breeze on a galloping horse outweighs tasting the dirt. I hope to have horses in my life full time soon, I yearn for it with every essence of my being. Right now I ride often in my dreams. Knowing that I want horses in my future is one of the reasons I’m working very hard to get my body into good shape.
I hesitate to tell people that I got bucked off when they ask about my wrap and sling. So many people are already afraid of horses. It could be due to studies like this:
According to new research, you are 20 times more likely to be injured doing an equestrian-based activity than you are riding a motorbike. And even worse, horse accidents equate for 25% of all lethal injuries in children’s sport.
or stats listing the 3 most dangerous sports as:
1: Horse Riding
Many people have a soft spot for horses. Some see them as a pet, while others ride them for fame and fortune in competitive racing. Regardless,our equestrian friends can weigh over 1000 lbs. and can unexpectedly throw their riders around like rag dolls. Horses also bite with their teeth and butt their strong heads, but by far their most dangerous habit is kicking their hooves. The incredibly powerful muscles in their legs can deliver a force that has been known to kill humans.
According to Riders4Helmets.com, an estimated 7 million people ride horses per year. In 2005 alone, over 78,000 riders visited the emergency room as a result of horse-riding related injuries. Always make sure to take proper precautions when riding a horse.
2: American Football
3: Bull Riding
I admit I have been blessed with no serious injuries. My children have all ridden now and then and know the basics enough to enjoy themselves, and hopefully, have the brains to stay away from the Romeos out there.