How many times have we heard the phrase, “you’re not really a rider until you’ve fallen off 7 times”? When riding horses, it’s a situation we all face eventually. You are not a failure, your horse is not a failure, and you shouldn’t give it up if it’s something you truly love to do. And you will probably fall off a horse again some day.
But after you’ve fallen off, what is the best way to get back in the saddle? The simple answer is one foot at a time!
However, if you’ve ever fallen off a horse, you know it isn’t that simple. There are a lot of emotions that come into play after a fall, no matter how serious. From anger, frustration, anxiety, and even physical trauma plays into the situation.
Most importantly: do what you need to do, to be COMFORTABLE getting in the saddle. And remember it is OK to be feeling whatever you are feeling.
Because the situations that cause falls to happen can vary so greatly, it is hard to give concrete steps to getting back in the saddle, but we will touch on a couple ways to try and make it easier no matter the situation.
- Anxiety: do things that make you comfortable being in the saddle. If you fell off at the canter, and you are anxious about cantering, it is OK to walk or trot for a while to just build some confidence in your abilities, and your horse’s behavior. However, don’t avoid cantering forever. If you can’t build up confidence on your own, get a trainer involved to help you work up to it. Trainers have a LOT of great techniques t help build your confidence.
- Avoiding Riding: Don’t do it! While this might sound like a good solution, you are only delaying the inevitable and building the anxiety around it each day you avoid the topic of riding. You started riding for a reason you love it. That feeling is still in there somewhere. While it might be buried temporarily, you will unearth that love again. Just work slowly at it. *If your Dr. says you need to give it some time due to medical concerns, PLEASE listen to them! It will make you more successful in the long run when you do attempt to get back in the saddle.
Falls occur for many reasons, and those reasons will have a large impact on how you deal with the fear about getting back in the saddle. So if you need to assess it, then take into consideration all the factors that played into the fall. Once you understand why the fall happened, prepare yourself (and your horse) to be successful in that situation in the future.
Remember though, not all falls can be avoided. Horses are a flight animal. They spook, and we don’t always spook with them.
Good luck in your riding and please comment if you have other tips that have helped you get back in the saddle!