Every parent’s first concern when his or her child starts to ride is the first fall. This concern is not unwarranted because falling off comes with the sport. Ponies often have notoriously devilish tendencies beneath their cute and sweet exterior. It is typically the first fall off a pony that decides whether or not a child will stick with riding. I have fallen many times over my fourteen-year riding career. There have been tears, concussions and helmets that needed replacing. I often wonder what made me continue riding and it all goes back to my first fall.
Serenade was a beautiful grey mare that the barn I was riding at used as a schooling pony. She was the first horse I ever fell off of and was not the last. I was eight years old riding in the indoor arena, working on my posting trot during my Saturday morning lesson. Suddenly, she took a few canter strides. Unable to keep my balance, I bounced out of the saddle and landed in front of the cantering feet of a horse passing in the opposite direction. Out of pure luck, the rider managed to stop her horse and my trainer Danielle helped me up. I was told that when you fall off your horse you should always hop back on. The last thing I wanted to do after getting the wind knocked out of me was to get back on. Once I stopped crying, I was back in the saddle and walked a lap. After ending my lesson I vowed to never ride again. Walking my pony back to the barn, the owner’s daughter told me that you’re not a good rider until you’ve fallen a hundred times. This seemed ridiculous to me but stuck with me even though I continued to stubbornly persist I was done riding. A couple of weeks had passed and I started to miss being around the barn. One day I went to my parents and told them I wanted to ride on Saturday. Without hesitation they scheduled a lesson for that Saturday, making me promise I would try my best.
Showing up to the first lesson after I fell was nerve-racking. Checking the board when I got to the barn I saw I was riding another mare named Vision. For weeks I would I ride this mare until I regained my confidence. It was through the persistence of my trainer, my parents, the encouragement of the girls at the barn, and truthfully my desire to one day own my own horse, that I continued to ride. If I had not pushed through my fear I never would have achieved what I have over the last fourteen years, including owning the horse of my dreams, Charly Brown.
To the parents who are afraid of their child falling off, they’ll be ok. It will decide their passion for the sport and ultimately shape the rider they become. To the rider who just fell for the first time, don’t let fear hold you back.