2015-12-15: Hi! You're probably here because you did a Google search for 'plus sized horseback riders' or you saw my content quoted elsewhere. There are a couple of things I'd like you to know.

I am still here! But I am living away from my horses and not riding often. I could tell you a lie and say that I am, but I have always endeavored to give you the truth here. As a result, I'm not feeling terribly motivated to write blog posts and I feel out of touch with the community.

I'd love for you to stay a while and look back through the archives. Visit the links listed below. We still have an active forum community and I post on the Facebook page from time to time.

I have tentative plans to try to get more involved in the horse world in 2016, and I will absolutely share whatever that adventure becomes with you, so keep checking back!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Learning not to fear the fall...

I do kind of live life on the wild side once in a while.

The first time I ever rode Bronwyn bareback, she had been off for about two months. I had never ridden her bareback and it had been YEARS since I had ridden ANY horse bareback... but I thought to myself "Oh, why the heck not?" - the last time I had ridden her, we had parted ways unexpectedly due to the sudden levitation of a cat into an apple tree. I don't know what made me think it was a good idea to climb on without riding in a saddle first, but I did, and I was pretty dang proud of the two of us by the end of that ride:

As a side note, prior to the fall that I had prior to that picture, my last fall was ELEVEN years before. As you can tell, I have lucked out. It is easy for me to say "FACE YOUR FEARS!" and encourage people to ride and not worry about falling off - when I know there are those out there who have had serious injuries to their backs, their pelvises, their heads, etc, that don't find it that easy.

Anyways, all of this to say that I have gotten a little cocky. My little mare can be taken out pretty fresh and we can go for a jaunt without a bridle OR saddle now:

I kind of knew I was riding on borrowed luck from the first go round, which is why it didn't REALLY surprise me when I accomplished fall #3 from Bronwyn's back in a beautifully epic, but sadly unwitnessed front flip over her shoulder into the snow when I decided I HAD to ride my fresh mare who hadn't been turned out in about 12 hours, who had not been ridden in about two weeks in the fluffy snow that was falling. Did I mention I was wearing a horse-eating winter jacket that makes noise when you move around? No? Well, I was.

I also neglected to longe her prior to riding, and to bother with a bridle - I just had my rope reins attached to her halter. I was pretty much asking for it.

She was a little sticky about standing still while I mounted up, which is not very typical for this big beast. I eventually did find a low enough spot to stand her in to get my leg swung up over her but before I could get it all the way over and get myself settled onto her back, she started moving off - I was essentially laying on my stomach along her spine. When she veered left, I went right and landed on my back in the snow, laughing just a little bit.

I have kind of tried to take the attitude that "If I fall, I fall..." all along but that doesn't make falling too awesome. Fortunately, Bronwyn is also still of the mindset that I SHOULD be on her back, not on the ground, so she is always surprised when I land there and hasn't mastered the art of trying to GET me there. It's kind of cute how she is like "MOM! WHY are you on the ground?!??!?!?! *horrified look*"

Anyways... I'm doing alright this morning - my neck is a little stiff from the lash as I always try to protect my helmet from hitting the ground when I fall (awesome, right? LOL) and get a little bit of whiplash.

I managed to get back on after I fell (though I was pretty shaken up) and we had a nice little jaunt around the pasture just like we had intended originally. I wasn't afraid of falling again, because I managed to get out of that one...

But I am curious - those of you who have been hurt in a fall (broken bones, bedrest, hospital stay resulting, etc), how do you muster up the courage to get back on? In my lifetime with horses, I have never broken a bone or had a concussion or anything to that effect (knock on wood), but if I did, I am not sure I would still be brave. Let's talk about it in the comments!


  1. First of all I love your blogs :)

    About them falls. I have to say... I have fallen off 3 times in my years or riding. I have never broken a bone, concussion, etc either. Perhaps a cracked rib? (Sure felt like...something was going on lol)

    The first time I fell off I was at a trail riding stable, I always went in my younger years. Just me and the owner on Tuesday afternoons. I think she taught me how to ride, for the most part. I always picked my mount out of many, and my choice usually consisted of a HUGE appalossa named Keno. (mind you the only horses I've ridden before were ponies at the zoo/parties on lead lines, or the 14.2hh Morgan of my friends) So this was fun for me! I tried several horses but always ended up back at Keno. The first fall...We were "running home" Saddle slipped, I fall. Knocked the wind out of me, but I was okay.

    2nd and 3rd time were on my horse (I've sold her, because I moved "home" but now i'm back where I started and I sure miss her!) I also (pretended) anyways that I was cocky...haha yeah... I rode her bareback a few times, nothing major. But one afternoon, I hopped on her bareback to ride the maybe 50ft back to pasture...halter and leadrope...Dogs come charging around the house, and she took off, but...I managed to stay put (unfortunately) She -never- spooked of anything before. Quite a shock, I think I was more shocked then I was hurt lol. Now the 2nd time, I was working with her canter/gallop. She was okay..but nothing great. At least I had all my tack on her this time. We rode everywhere on our little 5 acres. But I always decided the the HUGE front yard was our "arena" We or should I say I, Thought it was a great Idea to do diagonal patterns at the canter across the yard. Don't think she did...half way through the yard, her mind set was "I am NOT doing this" *buck-I-think-im-a-bronc-buck* etc...that one flew me off... That's where the "I think at least cracked ribs" or something of the sort comes in. That hurt. I don't think no matter how much you really prepare yourself for a "sassy" horse you're never ready for a fall, or even worse.

    For the people who actually have ended up breaking a bone, ended up hospitalized or whatever it may be... They are brave, but I think it's the toughness of being a horses person... :)

  2. Haha. I think it's so funny you posted this right now. I am still in bed this morning, but just waking myself up doing a bit of surfing and I read your post. Here I was, kind of fantasizing about the idea of putting a saddle on my horse, Sasha, this morning and getting on. I had my bad fall in August. Some of you may remember, but she bucked me off going up a hill and I sprained my left wrist, broke my right wrist and broke my right ankle. Then I had to walk home about 1/2 a mile. I also had a huge hematoma on my stomach, and of course, I landed in a massive patch of poison ivy, so all in all, it was not a good time for me. That was August 4th. I have not been on since. Once my body was healed enough, I got really sick, and once I was well enough, the snow hit with a vengeance. Now I am debating on leaving it until spring. I have to confess, I am really quite scared to get on again. In fact, I even dreamed about her being ridden by my sister last night, and in my dream she threw my sister too. So, I fully intend to get back on her, but I am not sure exactly when I will get up the guts to do it. I have fallen about ten other times in my life, and never have I seriously hurt myself before this time, but this happened on my first trail ride with this horse, and it was after a very long break from riding so I am rusty. I am struggling with fear and I actually kind of wonder whether deep down my fear has been the real reason I have not ridden again. Maybe the other things were excuses. Yes, my wrist and ankle still hurt, though not badly. I'm sure I could ride with no problem. I just feel nervous to do so. I will definitely be posting on the forum when I finally do get back on. But that may be months from now.

  3. First Off I must say LUCKY YOU!!! Secondly I must say I am sorry for my screen name...I didn't realize that gmail won't let me put an & sign in my s/n so I will have to look into fixing it. ANYHOW....I have fallen off, a few years back, and broke my ribs and busted my knee and had to have pins in it. That was when I was 15 and now I am 21 and it took me until I was 20 to get back in the saddle and start riding again. The story of that fall goes a little like this:
    So one day I was riding an Arab mare (1st mistake...jk haha) and we were practicing for our hunterXjumper show (2nd mistake) and the neighbors lawn mower back fired and made a loud noise, causing our beautiful canter leading up to the vertical box jump to be...well..not so lovely. She ducked out on me at the last minute and split right and I kept going forward and flew over her neck and landed on the big wooden box. Needless to say I sort of tumbled over the box and I am not sure how I managed to bust my knee cap and a few ribs, but I did. After that spill I pretty much wanted nothing to do with horses until I healed. So in my second year of college that is when I started to get back into horses and ride. It took a LOT of coaxing from an acquaintance to get me on a little mare I'd never met and trail ride with her....That didn't go over too well either! She bolted on me in the Georgia woods so I leaned over her like a jockey and held on like a spider monkey...Then I got her to stop and I got off and walked back hahahaha. After that I figured I could at least canter again and I just started to practice in the arena and now I am jumping horses for a trainer here and starting my own little draft mare and I have had horse fall down on me this past year and do all sorts of weird things and I just don't care anymore, even though I have a back injury (bulging disk that I get injections in my spine for) and figure that my body will heal at some point! So that is my little tiff hahaha!

  4. I have had silly little fals that never shook me and I have had a couple of humdingers. The last one ,was really bad with the horse stomping me in the procces.I got back on that horse one time, before going to hospital. never rode her again.I was an accident and not malicuious on the part of the horse but... got back to riding on my old mare ,for a whiel before riding a greenie again , stepping up on the greeniE,i THOUGHT i WOULD THROW UP!Anyhow ,she was OK then spooked and tried to buck. Best thing that could have happened .I rode it out and realised I coulod still c=handles stuff. Regained my confidence in a heck of a hurry~

  5. I've probably fallen off a hundred times, or even maybe more, in my many years of riding - into trees, into (cross-country fixed-in-place) jumps, I've had horses fall with me, etc., but all but three of my falls happened when I was young - only 3 falls in the past 15 years and I ride almost every day. I've been pretty lucky so far - no broken bones and only a few concussions. I don't really worry too much about falling off, although I'm careful to minimize the odds that I will. I'm almost 60 and probably wouldn't bounce too well at my age! I used to be able to ride through almost anything, including bronc acts, but I prefer to avoid that sort of thing now.

    The thing that put a dent in my confidence was getting kicked in the jaw by one of our mares two years ago - a stupid accident that was entirely my fault due to carelessness. No broken bones, but I'm still having dental repairs as a result. I was pretty gun shy after that, but I'm more comfortable now - although hopefully not to the point of being careless!

  6. I have had many falls in my years of riding. Mostly because, for a time I was the kid without a horse of her own, willing to ride anything :) That resulted in broken ribs, hand, fingers and ankle..

    I (my parents)bought by first horse at 13 and I can say that the falling lessened quite a bit but the fear was there..

    I am 28 now and had to sell my last horse because the fear had taken over..and as anyone in horses knows..Your horse knows when you are scared outta your mind :)

    I am working on getting over it so I can go back to riding but I think the lesson is respect the chance that you could fall but dont live in fear of it :)

    Hug your horse for me!


  7. What a timely post!
    I have fallen off many times (lost count) and have hit my head quite hard. I know if I didn't wear my helmet I would not be here. One of my worst falls left me with headaches for a week straight even though I was checked for a concussion right away by my boyfriend who is an emergency responder. I normally do not have headaches so I knew something was not right. Went to the ER, CAT scan was all fine, got some strong Tylenol and was just fine! I've had lots of bruises, sprained joints, etc.
    Why is this a timely post? Today the weather in Michigan was gorgeous and I went out on a trail ride with a friend. I galloped up this hill on the trail and stopped my horse only to see my friend's horse galloping towards us, he turned shaply and my friend flew off. Now, this gentelman is around 70 years old, so any fall is not a good thing for him. It was very scary seeing him laying there completely unmoving. I got off my horse and grabbed his horse too. Luckily he is fine, but it took him a few long minutes and some help to get up and get back in the saddle. It was scary to watch and I'm glad I was there to help.
    Falling is just a risk we take when we swing our leg over, but the ride is so worth it!

  8. My first time EVER riding a horse, a dog got into the paddock and scared the gelding I was on. He took off with me and halted sharply right in front of a metal fence. I flew over his head and hit the fence. My helmet saved my life, there was a 1 inch gash in it. I still have it, and it reminds me to keep my wits about me and not panic. I panicked that first time, which is why I wasn't prepared for him to stop.
    Who would have thought it that THAT ride/fall was what started my horse obsession? My mom thought I was insane. Instead of ruining my confidence, I immediately got back on. No matter what, get back on! It's SO worth it in the end. Bones heal, bruises disappear, but damage on the heart is lasting. Don't let it get to you. :)

  9. Almost 3 years ago I had a BAD fall off of an 18hh horse onto frozen ground. I was just starting riding again (I rode when I was younger) and the horse was green and it was my first time back out on the trail. I told the woman I was with (a boarder at the barn where I leased the horse) that I only wanted to do w/t. after the first trot I realized that I wasn't going to be able to control the 2000lbs animal I was riding as well as i thought, so i asked her if it was ok if we just walked. She said fine, but wasn't thrilled about it. She was not a nice lady... she was lecturing me the whole time about things I was doing wrong... i only went on a ride with her because everyone at the barn told me she knew the park better than anyone.
    Well a few minutes later she decided she wanted to trot... she gave me no warning and just said, "I'm trotting" and went off. Being the green rider I was and being unprepared, my horse took off at a trot then started to canter then gallop! and we were going DOWNHILL toward and asphault road. I tried everything i knew to stop him, but i was terrified, so I intended to bail. I kicked my feet out and as I did that the horse stepped up onto an embankment and I lost my balance and fell.
    I ended up severely spraining my right ankle and knee, and also sustained a compression fracture of my L1 vertebra. I was in SO much pain. thats the last time I remember crying because of physical pain. The woman I was riding with refused to call 911. She said she would bring her horse back to the barn (we were 30 minutes out) and come back for me. I asked her to take my lease horse with her and she refused saying, "he's not my problem!" I BEGGED her to call 911 but she would not... and began walking off with her horse while I was laying on the frozen ground in 20 degree weather. Thankfully my horse was just happily munching on grass across the road. I called to him and told him to GO HOME! It seems he understood and trotted off after the lady and her horse... so she had no choice but to take him with her. I was thankful for that, but I was ALONE with no way to call for help. THANKFULLY someone was looking out for me because two ladies in their car were lost in the park and they saw me laying on the ground and stopped. I don't know how long I was there before they found me, but the woman and the horses were out of sight. These women were so nice... they called 911... wrapped me in blankets and held me to keep me warm. The ambulance got lost in the park and it took them 45 minutes to find me... I was so thankful for these women as I was probably sitting there for well over an hour before the ambulance got there and the woman i rode with still had not come back. I wish I knew who those nice ladies were so I could thank them!
    I ended up in a back brace for a week and an air cast on my leg for 3 weeks. I had to do 8 weeks of physical therapy too!
    Well let me tell you... the woman I was riding with sent me threatening e-mails about how she would sue me because I put her and her horse in danger. The barn manager where I was at took her side because she blamed an open gate to the back paddock on me (when she was really the last one to leave) . She told me that "she was a very powerful person in the horse world" and if she had it her way I would never be allowed on a horse again.
    Well THAT made my blood boil. I was going to prove her wrong because I still WANTED to ride. I was able to get back on a horse only two months after my accident. I had so many insecurities and fear issues... but I got back on, and worked through them. It took me MONTHS to be able to canter again. But I never gave up.
    If horses are your passion, then no one person or injury should take that away from you!

  10. I came off my horse november 14, 2006. It was a very stupid mistake on my part. At the time my horse was 3, she's a breeding stock paint mare and sweet as anything. She had only been started that month and was doing awesome. I had just finished working her in the large arena where she was boarded. We had turned to watch the bo start bringing the other horses in, I'm was sitting like a sack of potatoes on a very loose rein, when a very load car drove along the arena. She spun to look and I fell off, just like a rock. My horse was looking at me like "what are you doing down there?" Broke my right arm and dislocated my shoulder. Luckily there were lots of people there who immediately came to help me.
    One very nice woman took me to the er, another called my sister to meet us there and the bo put my horse away.
    It was awful healing, very painful and took forever. Where the break was they left me in a splint and sling to heal, I had tons of physical therapy when the arm healed. There are pictures of me at christmas in a sling and splint at the barn grooming my awesome horse. She was amazing through all of it, letting me crawl on the floor to do her feet.
    The worse part was the doctor didn't want me riding for at least 6 months. Well I cheated and as soon as my splint was off rode the bo's broke to death tennessee walker. It only took 2 or 3 rides before I felt confident to ride my mare. She was great, she never spooked and was awesome. Unfortunately life got in the way and I wasn't able to ride again for 4 months. I thought I'd be fine but every time I got on I was terrified. It took quiet a while for me to get even some of my confidence back. My horse had never done anything to make me worried but the fear still is there. Every time I ride I do better, and every time my horse is awesome I feel braver. She has been calm through deer jumping in front of us in the arena, dogs blasting out a door charging, guns, fireworks, atvs, and I can't even think what else. I even tried riding bare back recently. Not for long though, my horse had my withers and is very round. LOL. I have yet to take her on a trail ride, a little because of fear but mainly there isn't anyone at my barn that trail rides and I'm really not crazy about trying to ride a green horse alone on trails for her first time ever.
    I'm incredibly thankful she's the horse I have through this stage of my life. Not what I was looking for but definitely what I needed. I was a big girl re-rider looking for a draft. I'd had a draft in my late teens early twenties and thought that's what I needed. But this little rescue mare is what I really needed.

  11. I still remember my first official fall. I was young... 4 maybe 5 years old. I was on my favorite lesson pony Cappy, standing in the middle of our lesson arena. She was headstrong, and pulled her head down hard when I was talking to my mom, who was standing outside the ring. I rolled down over her neck and head, somersaulting really, and landed square on my butt. Since then, I've fallen or been thrown off thousands of times (I wish I were joking). I've shattered my tail bone and ridden through a horse show. I've ridden with torn ligaments, sprains, bone bruising, or several broken bones at a time. I've never been to the hospital for an injury for anything horse-related either. I even have a few fused vertabrae from a nasty spill, and the treatment was being ice hosed in the wash stall for 3 or 4 hours, and about a week of bed rest. I will never forget my injuries, because riding was my therapy. My way to forget everything else, whether I was currently injured or not. I miss my spirited boy, and wish I could see him.

  12. I've only ever fallen off twice in my twelve years of riding. The first time was on a trail ride in New Zealand on a sweet gelding named Ginger. I lost my balance at the canter and slipped off into the wet two foot tall grass and was completely unscathed. In retrospect it must have been funny just seeing me slip off his back.

    My latest fall was only a month ago off my grandma's friend's young horse. Samurai is a gorgeous 4 yo 18hh black Percheron with little riding experience, though he drives like an old pro. I often get on horses I don't know very well due to not having my own to ride. It was a windy day and the ground was still hard from the colder weather. It started out alright but he got nervous and threw in a good buck. I managed to sit it alright but then he took off like a bat out of hell because the saddle slipped. Needless to say the mess that ensued after was a 2000 lb terrified baby running around his paddock with a scared girl clinging onto his back. The left stirrup leather broke and the iron flew off, I lost my balance and he took a sharp turn to the right in a dead run. The ground is a lot harder than I remember it being. I remember gasping for air and crying and my grandma and Samurai's owner screaming at me to roll out of the paddock because he was still running around like an idiot. I manage to get up and shake myself off.

    I'm about 65% sure I broke at least two of my ribs that day and completely threw my back out of alignment...again. I have a childhood injury that left me with a crooked spine and a slight limp. I'm always asking if my stirrups are even (They are, I'm not, lol).

    I've gotten on horses I don't know very well since then but I've had some anxiety, I had a chance to get back on Samurai but I'm pretty scared to and didn't. I fully intend to get back on him at some point during this year though. I did learn a few valuable lessons though. Check the girth more than twice. And don't get on babies unless you're 100% confident in your seat.

    I don't blame Samurai for me getting hurt, he got scared and did what nature told him to. It was a good reality check and I'll get back on him when I'm more confident I could handle him if he got scared again.


  13. I HAVE to share my fall story. I was started riding only three years ago and my lesson horse dumped me three or four times. I was afraid to ride him though was never seriously hurt. I decided I could do at least that well on my own and decided to get a green horse (never backed) last year. I started him under saddle last June and took him to a trail competition only two months later. I was brave...even cocky. I decided to join the sheriffs posse and thought the experience would be good for both of us, but he was still very green, and a little uncertain in new situations. The night he dumped me hard I knew it was coming before I even put a foot in the stirrup. I was so CERTAIN it was coming I even told someone. But I wasn't prepared for how bad it would be. In a bucking fit, he launched me. When I hit the dirt I knew exactly where and how many broken bones I had to accompany my lacerated liver. All I could think of on my way to the trauma center was how disappointed I was that I wasn't going to be riding for a long time. NOT TRUE. I was back in the saddle in a month and riding daily within three months. How did I get the courage? Point Two Air Vest. I don't wear it often any more, but it helped me through a really tough spell, as well as working with a great and compassionate trainer. I still have moments of anxiety, and even near panic, but most of my fear has been subdued through the repeated positive experiences that far outweigh the one big bad one.

  14. I cried as I read your post & everyone else's. I have lost my nerve, I don't know where to find it! My last fall (off of a very green 3 year old filly) resulted in a severe concussion & fractured pelvis. Add to this both Doc & Chiro telling me I can never ride again (due to degenerative Arthritis)... Riding IS now painful in both my pelvis & my knees (I have a great leg length difference & wearing my orthotic lift - my foot won't fit into the stirrup without being wedged!). I have begun riding BAREBACK on the trusties I have and I have 3 colts to start this year... FEAR is a joy killer!!!