Updated: Jan 9
If you're going to ride horses, you're going to fall off. It goes with the territory. Yep, shit happens even to the best riders out there.
Last year, it happened to me... a whopping three times! Before last year, it had been YEARS since I'd eaten the dirt. As a professional, I ride a lot of horses (and a lot of green or tricky horses, at that!), so I suppose I'd been tempting fate for a while!
The last fall was the most gnarly. A young horse spooked violently, reared up, and fell over on me. I tore every muscle in my hip and groin. It was the worst pain I've ever experienced. I couldn't walk without crutches for nearly a month. It was horrible.
When I was finally healed enough to get back on safe horses, I was so excited to ride again, but I was also pretty hesitant. If you know me, I'm normally a pretty fearless rider. This hesitation was a very foreign feeling and nerve-wracking in and of itself!
So what do we do? How do we cowgirl up and get back in the saddle after a crazy fall? Especially as an adult! I feel like rebounding after a fall is way tougher now than it was when I was a kid...
Here are a few things I found to be helpful:
Talk about the experience!
Talking about the experience will help you process what happened.
What parts of the experience were within your control? What parts of the experience were completely outside of your control? And what falls into the "gray area" of things that happened that are outside of your current skillset? The stuff you can't control YET.
Learn to LET GO of the things that were outside of your control.
Sometimes shit happens. It's just plain ol' bad luck. That's it. Let it go. By letting go of the things you can't control, you'll have more space in your brain to embrace more important things - like confidence and new skills.
Identify the parts of the experience that you could potentially do differently in the future.
Are there riding skills you thought you had down pat but you weren't able to implement in the moment? Try to identify why things didn't work that time.
Are there skills you can continue to work on to help you become a stronger rider, a smarter rider, or a more effective rider that would help position you and your horse differently in the future?
Work with a trusted team to develop a plan to work on improving those skills you identified from talking about what happened.
Trainers - help you and your horse work together
Sports psychologists, counselors, therapists, etc - help you work on your mindset (your horse trainer could probably offer some insight here, too)
When you're ready to get back in the saddle, GO SLOW. There is no need to be a hero. Let me say it again, go slow. Go slower than you think you need to. This will help make sure you and your horse build good experiences together. Set yourself up for success by making things super easy.
By having good experiences with your horse, your confidence will come back. It will take time. If you take things slowly, it will take less time than you think to be feeling like yourself again.
You've got this!