“It’s ok I bounce” me and a work colleague had just gotten back from taking a group of tourists on a trail ride, she was riding up the front leading the horse and rider behind her and I walked up the back with a couple of kids and a pony in each hand. The wind had blown a piece of plastic tarp (top ten list of most scary things for most horses I know) the horse up the front spooked one way and the horse behind spooked the other way, unfortunately my friends first reaction wasn’t to let go of the lead rope and she got pulled to the ground. Naturally those two spooking set of a chain reaction in which two more tourists ended up on the ground and I stood perfectly helpless unable to let go of the the kids. Everyone was ok, one of the tourists was pretty banged up but no broken bones (I doubt she will ever get on a horse again though) anyway after we safely got the remaining riders off and rounded up the loose horses I went over and made sure my friend was ok and our boss was checking on her again as well.
“It’s ok I bounce” she said, these words struck me mainly because lately I haven’t been “bouncing” my recent falls had left their mark of severe bruising and soft tissue injuries and x-Ray’s to rule out breaks and features and also because I’ve heard it before.
My friend from Perth who I rode with often had said the same thing after I had admired her dusting herself off and getting back on her ex polo pony with questionable breaks who had once again forgot he was in a dressage arena not on a polo field.
Since then I’ve been thinking about it a lot, are some people tougher, more resistant to injury, I certainly used to be, is it a state of mind? Thinking back my recent falls haven’t been that severe, I’d had worse and it’s always going to hurt more the next day but I still couldn’t understand why recently even a slightly bungled emergency dismount has left me worse for wear. It all made sense after I read an article in the January 2017 Heals Down magazine “Fear of the Fall” the article wasn’t specifically about injuries and bouncing back this passage made something click in my mind:
“When you fall, if your body is tense- which it probably will be if your nervous- you stand a greater chance of injuring yourself” (Fear of the Fall, 2017, Heels Down, pg 21)
I believe I’ve mentioned it before but I suffer from anxiety, not going to lie lately it hasn’t been as under control as I would like something I’m actively working on. I’ve always being aware of my anxiety when I’ve been riding forcing my self to keep it in check so my horse doesn’t feed of my life emotions. I didn’t make the connection that the same tenseness in my body that they can feel was affecting to my in ability to “bounce”.
As always having all the answers doesn’t fix all the problems but knowing I’m probably not any worse at falling of a horse than anyone else and I’m not defective or anything like helps. I know with some more hard work I will get my mental health back under control but I know giving up riding is never an option and regardless of how many times I fall off I’ll always get back on again, hopefully with fewer injuries and a newly re-discovered ability to bounce!