I fell off a horse yesterday. I guess after nary a mishap in seven months it was due to happen.
I was riding Huey, who is a much larger horse than my usual mount, the little mare Angel. So right off the bat I was feeling like I was much higher off the ground than usual. His stride is also a lot bigger, so I was feeling like I was bouncing around and a little out of control the entire lesson.
I was cantering on the longe line (a line is attached to the bridle and the trainer has the other end), when Cat Dog ran right in front of the horse and spooked him. He was already going pretty fast and he reared up and jerked his whole body to the outside of the circle. Since I was leaning to the inside of the circle, I completely lost my balance and fell off to the side. I managed to get my right foot out of the stirrup right away and kept hold of the reins while my left foot stayed in the stirrup until the last second. It was a sort of slow motion fall, I didn't land hard but it did scare the crap out of me. After we got him calmed down a bit (and the cat got a good scolding) I got back on and finished the lesson.
Last night my back started to hurt and now where I actually landed on my outer thigh is also sore, but I'm more concerned about the mental after-effects. I know I got back on right away, but the more I thought about it the more upset I became. I switched my lessons to Saturdays because my work schedule is too crazy right now to fit one in during the week, which means I'll probably be riding Huey a lot more.
I could really use some words of wisdom from my horse friends here.
UPDATE: My sincere thanks to all of you who left comments. I think what I am most afraid of is, well, being afraid. I had no sense of fear whatsoever before I fell, I would walk right up to a strange horse and start petting it, or feed a strange horse a carrot or whatever. I would jump right in the saddle on any horse my instructor put in front of me with a "I can do this" kind of attitude. I can't honestly say that anything will have changed when I go back next weekend for another lesson, I hope not, I guess all I can do it keep on keeping on.
The horse I was riding, Huey, was trained for Western Pleasure (which sounds like an all-male Vegas revue!), and they've been converting him -- if that's the right terminology -- to English for a few years now. Because of his early training he tends to start out slow. Really slow. On top of that he is a bit lazy so you have to constant urge him forward, which is just a nice horsey way of saying you have to kick him a lot. I even use a crop when I ride him, because he just.won't.go unless you absolutely show him you mean it. He's also used to being ridden with spurs, so just kicking him doesn't do much. I don't like riding him because it's a lot of work just to keep him at a trot, where I spend most of my lessons; I get exhausted mentally and physically and can't concentrate on my technique.
I definitely plan on leasing Angel when I can switch back to lessons during the week, once my work schedule gets back to normal after the year-end rush and the weather gets more predictable. My trainer said something about leasing Huey, but I just can't imagine it. Yes, Angel is an "easier" horse to ride, but so what? She can also jump so I can really stay with her a long while.