Staying grounded

Horses have a knack for keeping you on your toes – at all times. A horse is a big animal. A big animal that lives as prey and whose first instinct it is to run as fast and as far away as possible from any perceived danger. For such large animals, they can move unbelievably fast.

Getting stood on, kicked and bitten is all part of the deal when you share your life with horses. And when you ride them, falling off is just one more inevitability. It is actually a rite of passage. Unless you have fallen off a horse, you can’t ride properly. The more you fall, the better you become at not doing it again.

Even the biggest of horses can move out from right underneath you in a split second. What amazes me however, is the amount of thinking you are capable of doing from that first loss of balance until you hit the ground. Between: “Oh dear” and the thud on the ground, a thousand thoughts and actions run through your mind, much much faster than your body can react. “Let go of the reins” Watch for the feet!” “Move out of the way!” Afterwards you can replay that scene a thousand times trying to figure out what you might have done differently.

From riding a lot of youngsters I have learnt that they often get as big a fright, if not bigger, than the rider falling off. So, how a horse reacts to my falling off is always a great judge of their character and how easy they will be to train. My own horse, just takes off running with a:”If there is something scary here, you can deal with it, I’m off!” Then it takes you ten minutes to catch her, unless, you’re out on a hack in which case you may as well start walking home and planning how to fix broken bridles. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get back on her, you can forget about doing anything productive for the rest of the week.

Last week I fell off a youngster that, after taking two steps to miss standing on me, just stood there with a dopey look on his face saying: “I’m sorry, but what are you doing down there?” After I got back on, he was so careful past the chairs that spooked him in the first place, it was almost as if he was trying his best to not look at them in case I came flying out the side door again. He is the kind of fellow that will take care of you if you treat him right.

Although that is all good and very nice to know, it need not have happened. If my mind was focused on the horse I was riding, instead of well, wherever it was at that moment in time, I would have seen the spook coming and managed to stay put. But then, most bad things in life need not happen, but how else will we learn? How will we grow and how will be improve?


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