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Horse Riding - How Many Times Do You Need to Fall?

Sep 14, 2008
We have all hear it one time or another in our riding career; it takes 10, 50 or even 100 falls to make a good rider. But why is this true? And how many falls does it actually take?

While the saying is, of course, mostly there to encourage you after tumbling off in a lesson, there is some truth to it. Falling off a horse teaches you as much as staying on in many cases.

First of all, most riders who have never fallen off have not been truly challenged by their horses. A pleasure rider who has a reliable horse and enjoys riding the trails is unlikely to come off very often. Most spills are caused by unreliable horses, or when trying new skills that are more difficult that you are used to.

Likewise, many riders who have never ventured beyond a school horse have not fallen off. School horses can be difficult at times, but often they are pretty calm and sensible, unlikely to do much that tosses the average rider. If they have a history of tossing riders, they probably won't be a schoolie for very long.

With the constant concern for rider safety and the fear of being sued, many riding schools are careful to avoid creating situations that increase the risk of spills. They use quieter horses, don't push riders as fast, and avoid taking the horses or riders anywhere unusual. Because of this many riders are growing in experience, but never getting truly challenged.

Sometimes a rider has a lot of spills because she is overhorsed. This means that the horse she is riding is too green, too strong, or even too trained for the rider's ability. Other times an overzealous parent or coach pushes the rider too far too fast. This is a sure recipe for falls.

These falls are bad if they set a rider back, scaring them and making them unwilling to go further. On the other hand, sometimes a few falls are a good thing.

Usually a rider falls because they made a mistake. It may have been overfacing their horse, causing him to stop at a fence or startle at something he is not used to. It may have been trying something the rider is not ready for. Mistakes are useful because they teach you to avoid making that same mistake again.

Having a few uneventful falls can also build confidence. Once a rider discovers that falling off isn't so bad, she can get over the initial fear of falling. Of course, the opposite is true of a serious fall. Being injured can be a terrible blow to the confidence.

The one thing true about falling off is that the better a rider you become, the less likely you are to fall off. Unfortunately, this also means that the falls you experience as a better rider have a higher risk of being bad ones. This is because it takes a lot more to get you off. While a beginner might tumble when a horse stops suddenly, or when it spooks, an experienced rider is unlikely to be unseated that way. Instead, it may take a serious bucking episode or a big crash at a fence, to get an experienced rider off.

It is impossible to say how many falls it takes to become a good rider. 100 falls off your pony as a child may be equivalent to 10 falls off your experienced dressage horse as an adult. That's because your falls are directly related to the risks you pull when riding. A kid is far more likely to play silly games or try unrealistic things when playing around on her pony. As an adult, your can learn a lot more by schooling yourself, and are not as likely to try silly games in your free time.

Either way, falling off should be looked at as a learning experience, not a terrible accident. There is always a reason that you fell off, and something you could have done to prevent the situation. Take your time and get back your confidence, and know that the next time that situation arises, you will know at least one thing not to do, and hopefully have some better ideas of how to avoid a tumble.
About the Author
Lydia K Kelly is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds of horses for sale North Carolina, horses for sale North Dakota, horses for sale Ohio and other states. Lydia is also a featured author at www.ArticleKing.com
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