Bruised body and dented confidence

JayneW

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Dec 3, 2017
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I have been riding since August and absolutely love it. However in the last three weeks I have fallen off twice. The first was when the horse I was riding slipped and fell in the mud out on a hack ( I don't really count this as a proper fall) but this week I fell off when practising trot to canter transitions. I lost my stirrups, the horse coughed causing me to be even more unbalanced and grip tighter - the horse went faster because I was gripping etc etc and I flew into the fence at speed and am very bruised and sore. I am disappointed in myself that in the heat of the moment I didn't even think about pulling on the reins to try and slow the horse. My young daughter was watching so I had to get up and carry on as if I was ok when in truth I was petrified to get back on.
I understand that riding does carry physical risks and I was very grateful for the protective clothing I was wearing but I worry that my psychological fear will transmit to the next horse I ride. Any tips from those much more experienced in the art of riding in 'just getting back on?'
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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...la la land
The best think you did was to get back on straight away. I know it hurts and that has a lasting effect in the pain you received but that will go in time. Just don't leave it too long before you go for the next ride. Try to remember the positives of how much you enjoy the riding.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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The first fall sounds like terribly bad luck, thank goodness you're ok.

I wonder if the first fall had made you slightly tense this week & then things escalated? I can't help thinking that a horse that reacts that way maybe isn't suited to being used for novice riders in a riding school, but done is done. Pulling on the reins may not have helped that much anyway, and in a school you quickly run out of room & the turn will further unbalance you.

Moving forward can you book a few private lessons on a calmer horse & maybe ask to do some lunge work to secure your seat more? That would make you less likely to become unbalanced in the first place. And explain your worries to your RI so they know how you feel, they should be trained in how to help you with this. Worrying about fear is a vicious circle though, so try to break it straight away by focusing on good experiences & things you enjoy about riding. You're obviously an adult so I expect you have a good idea of how best you deal with concerns, but again let your RI know what works for you - some people get their confidence by being pushed, others need to take small steps & feel secure each one before they move on & it will help a lot if you can tell them what works for you.

You can do it :)
 

JayneW

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Dec 3, 2017
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Thank you both for your replies and suggestions. I think the potential for me to be injured hadn't really sunk in until I got home and the bruises developed. At 46 I don't bounce well. I think a few lessons back on the lunge may help me regain my balance and settle me. I know I will probably fall off many more times but I am almost embarrassed at the way it happened even though I know I am still very much a beginner. In my head I'm Charlotte Dujardin!!
 

carthorse

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Imagining that is no bad thing - watch her & then try to feel your body balanced & moving that way. Of course it isn't that easy, if it was we'd all be that good, but it's surprising what you can pick up & our bodies do reflect what we think & feel. So practice thinking of & copying her wonderful posture, her balance & combination of strength & flexibility & do it even when you're walking around or sitting in a chair.

If you're worried about injuring yourself try turning this fall around. You came off at a canter & hit a fence at speed yet you've walked away with nothing but bruises that you could equally have got tripping over a kerb. Suddenly it makes riding seem less risky & you realise that even a quite dramatic fall doesn't necessarily produce drastic injuries. I'm not saying get complacent & think you're indestructible, but a different perspective can help lessen the fear.
 

squidsin

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Feb 16, 2013
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I fell off twice the week before last - in one lesson - and really bruised myself badly, I was stiff and sore for a few days afterwards. I wasn't worried about getting back on, although as I came off jumping, I booked a couple of jump lessons to get my mojo back. The thing is that when you are first start learning to ride (and if you've been riding since August, that's not long in the grand scheme of things), you will be unbalanced. Some people are immediately balanced as soon as they get on a horse - but those people are rare as unicorns. For us lesser mortals, it's time in the saddle and experience that helps us become balanced - and a few falls are inevitable. It hurts though and I am 43 and don't bounce either! A lunge lesson on a calm horse to help improve your seat is a good idea, but really, try not to dwell on it, take arnica for the bruising, and keep on riding! They say it takes 7 falls to make a rider after all.... (I've had more than that in one year alone!)
 
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Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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I was always taught to get straight back on so it wasn't such a big deal next time. I was also told as a (child) learner that you had to fall off 100 times to be a real rider so it never bothered me :p in fact I got a trophy from one 2 week holiday for "grass inspector" ;) one of my worst ever falls was just a couple of years ago (about 30 years on from getting that trophy) and it was barely from a walk while I was being led :rolleyes: it couldn't have been a more silly little fall but resulted in me barely being able to walk for a month. I guess what I'm saying is don't be embarrassed, we've all been there, dramatic or silly fall they mostly all hurt and bump your pride, but getting back on is the important bit and you already did that :)
 
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JayneW

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Thank you all for your words of wisdom. You have helped me put it into context and given me some good tips to move forward. I will book some private lunge lessons and take it from there. Very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to experienced horse riders so thank you.
 

sophie33

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Aug 8, 2004
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You've had plenty of good advice already. I would echo the lunge lessons suggestion. I am currently focusing on my seat in lunge lessons after randomly falling off while cantering in a lesson for no good reason at all! One minute I was on top, the next on the ground!! Which is much more embarrassing than your fall, and I've been riding far, far longer. but my RI said 'we've got to deepen your seat, it is no stirrups and the lunge for you' and I think it is helping.
 
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JayneW

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I hope you were not badly injured when you fell. Good luck with your lunge lessons - what I enjoy so much about riding is the need to continually learn and improve regardless of how long you’ve been riding.
 
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sophie33

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Thanks @JayneW - only bruised but quite badly - I’m still a bit sore a month on. I’m 46 too and definitely don’t bounce like I used to!
But I agree - the endless quest for improvement is part of ridings strange addiction.
 
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JayneW

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Just an update. I have looked back on this thread and can see how far my riding has progressed. I'm doing my BHS Stage 1 course to learn more about horse care and cantered without stirrups in my lesson yesterday. Just shows you're never too old to have horses in your life. Learning so much from reading the posts on here from those who share their knowledge - thank you
 

Lisa&Mo

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Apr 24, 2019
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I have been riding since August and absolutely love it. However in the last three weeks I have fallen off twice. The first was when the horse I was riding slipped and fell in the mud out on a hack ( I don't really count this as a proper fall) but this week I fell off when practising trot to canter transitions. I lost my stirrups, the horse coughed causing me to be even more unbalanced and grip tighter - the horse went faster because I was gripping etc etc and I flew into the fence at speed and am very bruised and sore. I am disappointed in myself that in the heat of the moment I didn't even think about pulling on the reins to try and slow the horse. My young daughter was watching so I had to get up and carry on as if I was ok when in truth I was petrified to get back on.
I understand that riding does carry physical risks and I was very grateful for the protective clothing I was wearing but I worry that my psychological fear will transmit to the next horse I ride. Any tips from those much more experienced in the art of riding in 'just getting back on?'
The same thing happened to me 2 weeks ago and I am petrified now, I have decided I'm not ready for cantering and am working on my confidence but going back to basics,. Any advice would be appreciated
 

JayneW

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Dec 3, 2017
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Hi LisaMo,
The advice given to me on this forum was what I needed to hear. However, it did take me quite a while to feel totally relaxed when transitioning from trot to canter - I would unconsciously grab the reins and lean forward expecting it to be an awful experience which it actually never was!
I also had more lessons on the lunge and without stirrups and even rode without a saddle so knew myself that my balance was OK. This really helped with my confidence.
Ultimately I am beginning to understand that the connection between the horse and the rider’s seat and hands is so finely tuned that if you’re not relaxed the horse won’t be either. Easier said than done I know but I keep that in mind whenever I feel myself tensing up.
There is enough distance between that fall and today that I can look back and understand the errors I made which led to that happening. Having that knowledge is half the battle but I know I will never stop learning. I’ve had a positive lesson today and continue to enjoy riding. I know I will probably fall off again but it hopefully won’t be because I made the same mistake. You will be ok.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I fell off regularly when learning to ride, but that was hacking - not in the early days.
A riding school that teaches effectively and allows each pupil to progress at their own pace really should not have that number of falls in the school. Not even when teaching canter. I was very very slow to learn canter but never fell off while learning.
One of the best ways to learn it through lunge lessons. If you can find a good teacher.,
But tho falling is inevitable it isnt something that should be happening regularly and it makes me wonder about your RS and your teacher.
Most mistakes dont lead to falls. And teachers often blame falls on the student so that the school doesnt get the blame.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Who said anything about falling off regularly?

@JayneW I'm so pleased to hear things are going well now, thank you for the update :)

There seems to be a huge focus on loss of confidence nowadays, almost as though it's something that should happen. I'm sure this didn't use to be the case - we came off, we checked the horse was ok & we got back on. I'm not saying there weren't times when we were scared, and it was ok to ask for a quieter horse or to sit something out for a short while, but now it seems so much more than that and people brood over it & blow it up out of all proportion which in turn makes them more nervous etc etc. And before anyone says anything I'm not a bouncy young thing who believes she's indestructible, I've had some bad falls & moments of doubt but I don't dwell on them & turn them into the thing that rules me.