Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Much More Can the Human Body Take?!?!?

As any horse rider knows, it is inevitable and predictable that we are going to hit the dirt. Especially when backing a horse for the first few times, a sour horse, green horses, *sigh* every horse! LOL! So I've often wondered just knowing what I've gone through, when is enough, Enough?

I've been thrown into jumps at full speed, ran over, boxed at, had my hands crushed, ankle broken, body sore, gushing blood, kicked, bit and more I can't think of right now I'm sure. Yet I wouldn't change it for anything! Yet how much can I take?? I remember this time when I was trying to stop a horse from breaking out of a gate and was standing to his side pushing his head over to the direction I wanted him to go. HE was a headstrong Bastard! He just turned his head straight again and mowed me down. Head slammed into the concrete, it's POURING down rain, my cell phone got shattered, I looked up and saw hooves flying over my face. I got up, caught him and then we practiced being a good boy for quite along time as I was BEYOND livid!

I've had horses get up in the rear and literally start boxing with their front hooves at my face. Slammed into walls, ugh I get sore even thinking about it. Yet we push ourselves forward. I truly believe that we as horse back riders and most humans in general, can handle A LOT of bodily damage for something we love! Hahaha! I'm thoroughly convinced that we are gluttons for punishment!

When it's not a physical beating we're taking and it makes a switch over to a mental beating that's a tough pill to swallow! Your brain definitely plays a huge part in your confidence, and fear levels. When one goes up the other goes down no matter which way you look at it.

I knew a lady who took her VERY green schizo horse out on a trail ride (against the advice of EVERYONE in the stable) and came to a small river crossing. Well her horse didn't want to go across so her horse did a crow hop and the lady plopped off right INTO the river! Well when she fell the horse pulled it's head back and "pulled" on her arm a bit, so she was sore. She didn't get trampled, kicked nothing! Just dumped in a river! YET, since then she has been terrified to get back on! I have a student who had her horse rear up and fall right on her, yet she got right back on. I know even when my ankle was broke, I still had lessons to give and horses to work so I just rode without my left stirrup. LOL!!

We spend a lot of time getting ourselves into physical shape for horse back riding to the point that when we do get a thrashing we don't quite feels as damaged. Our "Battle Wounds" so to speak. But what about mentally exercising ourselves for the sake of our psychological health??
I'm thinking what a lot of riders really need is mental, confidence building exercises. Riding good, yet still semi-challenging horses is a great confidence builder. Riding on the lunge line is a good confidence builder as is having your trainer/friend/riding buddy in the arena with you.

BUT, the number 1 top MOST important thing about riding is actually PAIRING up the horse and rider so that they SUIT each other's abilities! So many people get these confidence shattering green, psycho-but I got it cuz it's sooooo perty, way out of their league horses. And with the horse market as bad as it is right now, it's becoming more and more prevalent to see a green, newbie rider with a FREE green, newbie, NOT Trained horse.

As far as my students, one of the first things I like to do when I give lessons is teach people how to fall off a horse safely. I understand it doesn't always work out perfectly like in a lesson, but still. Eating dirt and then getting back on is sometimes the most devastating thing on earth! Your eyes are farther from the ground then your feet, so you trick yourself into believing you are on the Empire State Building! But when you do get back on that beloved horse of yours it is the best feeling EVER! Of course that's after the initial adrenaline rush of terror finally turning into euphoria, but hey To-MAY-toe, To-MAH-toe.

It really speaks for itself when you finally accomplish something you've always wanted too, like jumping your first fence, penning your first cow, or turning your first barrel. But it says more when you get dumped that first couple times, dust yourself off and hop back on!


28 comments:

twhlady said...

Getting dumped and getting back on is not easy, but it is a must. I recently hit the ground twice in a week. The first time (a Monday) I took my Walker back to the mounting block and got back on. That was eight weeks ago. The following Sunday however the fall was quite different and involved a trip to the ER. I fractured my right Radial Head (the end of the Radius). I have no rotation in my right am and can't lift more than five pounds. I haven't been on my horse since- per doctors orders. Hopefully tomorrow I will get the all clear from Ortho Doc and be back on Pete in no time.

2toads2luv said...

TX- first, you make me hurt!

Second, I HATED it when my mom/trainer/grown up made me get back on, hated it.

And now I'm so glad that I was forced back on.

And now I'm doing it to my kids, telling them they'll be ok, I'm right there, but the HAVE to get back on, just for a bit. Talk about full circle!

Thankfully, I don't have any stories near as cool as yours!

kestrel said...

My son was a paratrooper, so I made all my kids and adults use the parachute fall. (You just roll, feet, knees, hips, shoulder, tucking head into chest.) It was interesting, because once I started showing it of course I had to do it, and learning that I could fall without dying was good for me and saved my life last year.
I had an abused horse that was terrified of transitions. I knew better than to push, but did anyway because the owner was determined to canter and I wanted to save her life. (Yeah, dumb me, so risk mine... What wasn't I thinking?!)
Mare jumped back and forth trying to decide what to do and lost me, and of course she was 16h2"! I took a bad beating and tore some muscles, but rolling with the fall saved my bones. It was sad, because if she'd been truly untrained she would have bucked or ran.....My poor husband watched me fall, then got stuck helping me back on. The poor horse was so upset that she hurt me that she's been perfect for her owner. Go figure.

2toads2luv said...

Kestrel, way to take one for the team!

*ouch!*

twhlady said...

Kestrel

My horse Pete is like the mare you described. He turned around both times I fell. He just gives me the "oh crap what did I do" look and stands like a perfect gentleman. The second time we were at a relatively fast canter and my stirrup broke (fair warning I am not a great rider) so off I went and he (a Tennessee Walker) did a perfect sliding stop and turned around. He just had this look like why are you on the ground again.

Trainer X said...

2toads2love~ I make myself hurt LMAO!!!!! It Sucks LOL!!

kestrel said...

Oh man, I just hate that look on a horse's face. I can't even claim that "well, he's still pretty green" because no one will buy it! Horsie tattle tail!

Trainer X said...

Sometime's it's as if they're looking back and laughing at us though LOL!

2toads2luv said...

It's the, You're a dumbass, why did you do that?" look...

Trainer X said...

LMAO!! Yes, that's EXACTLY what it is I swear!

TheHorseGirl said...

AMEN!

SammieRockes said...

I remember my dad ALWAYS making me get back on, The first time I fell, It was because my pony bucked, well my dad made me get back on, took me in the barn, closed the doors and made me ride shed row for about an hour at the trot, everytime I passed him he would smack my pony with a 2x4 to make him buck, so I learned how to ride a buck and always get back on. I have never gotton seriously injured, but today could have been the day if it wasnt for my amazingly calm gelding. We were out on the trail, and the was a thin tree with brances down, so he, being a TRUE trail horse, went to barge it over, well half way through he decided to jump it, and he jumped weird(I was in a western saddle FYI) and I FLY out of the saddle on to his neck. I cleared the horn thank god, but he didn't even flinch when I landed on his neck, he just kindakept going, I had to stop and get off to get back in the saddle b/c I couldn't lift myelf back over the horn. and of course my friend had to make the smartass coment "you wouldn't of flown outta the saddle if you were bareback"

GoLightly said...

Oh, my. Falling comes so naturally when you're young:)
Not so much, when you get a tad older.
I always, always, always got back on after a fall. The one time I didn't, against my wishes, the ass-hat horse owner insisted I get up to the house and soak in a warm bath. I guess it was a pretty ugly-looking fall. The TB mare I was riding had withers 4 inches below her croup. Basically, no withers, and so down-hill I had no business being asked to jump her. Of course, I did. We crashed, my soft-helmeted head missed a rock by inches, and I lost my confidence for the next year. I should have gotten right back on.

It took an old schoolie tripping, and almost falling down after a small fence, to give me BACK my confidence. It was the way the old darling did his damndest to stay upright. And he did, for me. That's why God made Quarter Horses:) They just know how to make you feel safe. He was such a great old horse, Johnny-Be-Good. I'm not sure he didn't do it on purpose:) "FFS, JBB's here too! I'll look after ya!"
I started back to real jumper schooling the next day:)
When I was a really stupid kid, at the crappy school I started at, we would play break the wild ponies. Loose ponies, in an arena, in a field, un-touched, un-broke. How I managed to never break a bone is beyond me:)
I had a girth snap, over a five-foot fence, rode the damn saddle all the way to the ground:)
At that first horrible school, I did some really crazy things. We rode side-saddle, western, saddle-seat, I goat-tied, barrel-raced, showed "jumpers", jumped a 6' fence, "evented", (quote marks because this was way before these disciplines refined themselves). Flat-Work?
Ride without stirrups, for three hours. Dressage? Never even heard of it, until much, much later. Yeah, the wrong way first:)
Teaches ya how to "stick", though. "Hours and miles, hours and miles" was the one good thing my first wacko instructor taught me. He also taught me to lie all over my horse's neck, and throw my legs behind me over a fence. Oh, yeah.

Aaaah, the good old days.

Thanks TX!! Great post! Be careful out there!

Guess I got a little goopy on Fugly, huh? Thanks for making me laugh, even harder...
Ooooh, well. I was still feeling empowered from the troll wars:)
"We" won, by the way.

boadicea1 said...

Great post. I have to say as I have become older I look back at my past mishaps, and think lets see 90% of those were caused by my pride, impatience,and ego. How long did it take me to figure out,No the horse isn't stupid, he just can't figure out what in the hell the broad aboard is asking. I've learned to do things a little differently. If it doesn't work, ask why, and try something else. As in any situation anger causes you to loose control, once you've lost it, its hard to get that back.
Kestrel,
Great post. If nothing else protect your head and neck, chin to chest. You want to try to distribute as much of the force of the fall over the largest area, namigly flesh parts, and avoiding bony parts. In martial arts it is called break fall training, and is usually one of the initial techniques taught.

Rachel said...

This spring I fell off, broke 2 ribs, and got back on. I rode the greenie for about 15 more minutes.

The next day I went to the dr and she told me I was broken. I bragged to my dad I had ridden for another 15 minutes. He told me I was crazy. My trainer told me it was impressive.

I guess it's all how you look at it!

http://badwaystosellyourhorse.blogspot.com/

chickenrider said...

The only times I haven't gotten right back on I ended up in the hospital! Er, and the one time I put my tooth through my lip learning how to canter (stirrup buckle snapped in HALF!).

At this point I've fallen off many many more times than I can count--more than once in the same ride even (the first time I was dumb the second time she was an asshat little witch horse).

One of the first horses I rode consistently would TRY as hard as possible to keep you on. Start leaning one way he went sideways to stay under you and vice versa. The minute you were for sure coming off he hit the breaks! Followed by the patented "are you ok" / "what the heck happened" LOOK.

First horse I owned would lose me in the dirt and go merrily trotting off across the arena. Grrr! He didn't even KNOW he was being bad, just "lalala, whoops she's gone!--oh well!--lalala" *trot trot*.

chickenrider said...

#blush# It's been a long day...

*breaks = BRAKES

WBandPOA said...

Ugh. I just "attempted" to get on my 2 1/2 year old for the first time. She was not happy! She took off bucking, ran over my mom, and I flew off. Not very fun. BUT I got back on a second time. Go figure, a bee lands on her nose this time. I had my foot in the stirup and was about to just lay across her and she backed up and I just went... down LOL. Then I got on one last time and just got off fast. She was fine.

I guess, she looks physically ready, but NOT mentally ready. We're going to just let her be a baby again :)

2toads2luv said...

Remeber when you were younger and would hop on anything, anywhere, anytime, bridle, halter, saddle, didn't matter...

And now, there are so many calculations running through my head. Ratio of horse height to ground, control implements in place (said halter, bridle, saddle), potential speed and therefore body meets ground speed, unforseen hazards, recovery time if you do eat dirt...

GoLightly said...

2taods2luv
LOL
Yeah, my bones creak louder, and louder, and louder...
When I was part-boarding, briefly, I kept thinking "If I fall off and get hurt, who will run my business?"
I tried not to, but my rational side gets louder as I get older:)

When I was a kid, your badge of honour was your bumps and bruises.

ezra_pandora said...

Lol, I just brought up that same thing. I am not a trainer and have really only had, let me see here, 6 incidents of the falling/bucking off sorts. I will say I have gotten back on every time, even if just to get on walk around for a minute and get back off, but I have gotten back on. My mare has started acting crazy again for some reason and I'm letting her because of my lack of confidence, which I don't know where it's coming from. Last night she was being wacky and bolted. The first time she's done so in about 5 months. Thankfully I must have a good seat and some control because I did not come off. The two other riders and one spectator congratulated me on my good balance and all three said they would have been laying in the dust. I surprised myself and I think I know I can stay on, it's the coming off that makes me fear for my life. lol The older we get the more it hurts, so for me the fear keeps me on for sure sometimes.

Not to hijack your blog, but here are my top 3. First fall ever off a horse was a PONY. I was taking english lessons and the instructor decided to have 5'6" me get on one of her taller ponies for a lesson. TOTALLY different feeling than a normal size (you know, 16h English) horse. We were cantering around and she told me to do a tighter circle. I did and off I came. SO humiliating for my first time falling off to be from a pony! Everyone was rolling and I was no worse for the wear.

Second time was at our current barn. Owner has 3 horses he didn't have much time to ride and wanted me to exercise one. In the winter. After not being turned out for like 2 months. He was a good guy, but was HUGE. He had to be close to 17h. Well, I was riding and things were going great until another gal came out to lunge her horse, who also had not been turned out ect. her horse got a little happy on the lunge line and was kicking and running and getting out some energy. Horse I was riding obviously thought it looked like fun times and decided to throw a few little kicks and bucks. Like sammierocks above, I landed on his neck just skimming the horn (hurt for a few days on my butt bone), and was hanging there trying to figure out what to do!! He was so tall to just let go and drop. I couldn't scooch myself back into the saddle. Everyone was laughing with me hanging there. I did eventually slide then drop. It was quite interesting. But I got back on and he was cool.

Last one that comes to mind is my mare (being wacky last night). my LAST actually training lesson with the trainer. I get on, we start going and she kind of stop and does this little hop and rear thing. I didn't really know what to do, so I pull back trying to get her to "stop." Not a good idea if she's already stopped and rearing. Up and over we go backwards and both fall, her on top of me. I'm laying there kind of stunned. She stands up and just stands there over me. It hurt like heck and thankfully trainer was there or I probably would not have gotten on right then, but I did and had one of my best rides on her. It was really strange.

Ok, sorry for that long comment!! I liked your post though for sure, it's so true.

Trainer X said...

I Love all of your comments because they are so darn true!!

2toads2luv said...

COMPLETELY OT (sorry tx), but saw this video and had to share...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrYOQ52U3LQ&feature=bzb302

2toads2luv said...

I love how the western rider gets more from both horses! It's interesting to see how the different riding disiplines handle the unfamiliar style of riding. I could go on on this one, but really, the reiner did great on both horses!

Trainer X said...

OMG I Looooove that video!!! It was so amazing!! I'm not going to lie, I preferred the reiner on both horses as well... The dressage rider did great he just didn't quite look right on the QTR Horse LOL!!!

2toads2luv said...

He looked like a grand prix dressage rider on a pluggy QH (which the QH was not pluggy). But that reiner got a lot out of both- I think the audience was surprised!

Trainer X said...

Me too! That was so wild. That Qtr horse was an extremely talented little guy!

2toads2luv said...

Yeah, I bet he could toss ya right out of the tack if you weren't paying attention!