I fell off the other week. It wasn’t serious. My main feeling was indignation. I don’t do falling off. I try to ensure I never get on anything with either the ability or the inclination to dump me, and this approach has served me well for many years.
I have never subscribed to the view that “You need to fall off at least 20 times before you can call yourself a rider”. Surely the point of the word “rider” is that it implies you are actually ON the horse, not lying next to it.
It’s a phrase that is normally delivered by an adult, by way of encouragement, to a small child who is lying in a crumpled heap on the floor, sobbing their heart out having just been discarded by their little wotsit of a pony who is now to be found with its unrepentant nose buried in the nearest clump of grass. If it is the child’s first fall, and it hurt, it must be so demoralising to think of the next 19 falls stretching out ahead of them to infinity and beyond. And even if it’s their 19th, that’s no comfort either, because by then they have worked out that there are likely to be more than 20. The elusive “last fall” that will finally turn you into that rider is just like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Anyway, due to an unexpectedly sharp manoeuvre from a normally mild mannered mare, I found myself horseless and flat on my back, only a few hundred metres from home (where the horse headed at high speed, leaving a series of dramatic skid marks where she did a handbrake turn through the gate).
Feeling a bit shocked, bruised and battered but with nothing broken, I set off after her at a more modest hobble. My husband and daughter had seen the blur of a galloping horse coming home without a rider and set off to find me. Unbeknown to me, I had an impressive amount of blood streaming down my face from what turned out to be a very small cut on my nose — happily this meant that rather than laughing their heads off, they were alarmed into expressing a lot of sympathy and concern.
Having not fallen off for years, and getting to an age where I know I don’t bounce too well, I had built up the idea of my next fall into something really terrifying — something that might serve as a warning to somebody of my advanced years that it was time to swap reins for knitting needles. But actually, it wasn’t so bad.
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On the plus side, somebody else did the mucking out. I got to have a lovely long, relaxing bath in the middle of the day. On the pretext of feeling a bit wobbly, I had an excuse to lie down on the sofa in front of the TV for the afternoon, and purely by chance, caught the semi-final of the women’s netball at the Commonwealth Games, which turned out to be the most excitement I’d had in some time — did you see it? Amazing. And I had a delicious supper cooked for me.
I know some falls are terrible, and I wouldn’t dream of trivialising the dangers of riding. But luckily this one wasn’t. I felt fine in a day or two and it certainly didn’t feel like the end of the line. So although the horse and I have some trust issues to work through, I am riding her again, and the knitting needles can stay in the drawer for the time being.