Noble Life

Riding Again After a Fall

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It’s common knowledge that falling off is part of riding a horse. If you don’t want to fall, then don’t get on a horse. The majority of the time unplanned dismounts are minor with more injury to ego than body. When that is the case most riders get up, brush themselves off, and hop back on. But you can get seriously hurt riding horses and become fearful. How, then, do you regain your confidence?

Marianne Pingree was riding her horse in the field when it bolted uncontrollably. When he shot sideways, Marianne was launched head first into the fence. She suffered a skull fracture (even with a helmet) and had titanium plates and screws inserted and parts of her face reconstructed. “I knew I’d ride again,” she said. “The sooner it happened the better because I had to get the monkey off my back.” Against doctor’s advice Marianne started riding a different horse 3 weeks after her accident. It was, however, 4 months before she got back on her horse. When she did, it was on the lunge line, in an indoor arena and in a lesson. Things were as controlled as possible to increase the chances of having a positive experience for horse and rider.

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Marianne Pingree was riding her horse in the field when it bolted uncontrollably and she was launched head first into the fence. Marianne started riding a different horse 3 weeks after her accident but it took 4 months before she got back on her horse.

Marianne offers this advice to riders. “It’s (falling off) the risk we take. 99% of the time it’s a fall on your butt. The sooner you get back on the better.”

Dressage trainer Duaa Anwar offers these tips for regaining your confidence after a riding accident.

  • First do breathing exercises on the lunge to help release tension.
  • Once you are back to riding, try to release your tension. When the horse feels you relax, he too will relax, which will help you be more content.
  • Talk or sing to your horse. This will keep your mind away from nervous thoughts and keep your horse attentive to your voice.
  • If you are fearful, do not pressure yourself into something that might go wrong. The objective is to view your ride as ‘easy to achieve’.
  • Ride in company. Being around self-assured riders will help boost your own confidence.
  • Spend time watching others ride. Seeing them advance might motivate you to take the next steps to getting back in the saddle.
  • Pretend to be confident by sitting tall and smiling. This will fool your unconscious mind into believing that you are confident and will send the message to your conscious mind.
  • Write down positive expressions and post them around your house or barn. Every time you see a note, speak the word. This allows your mind to ‘absorb’ the expression and store it unconsciously.

The most important thing is to respect your fear but don’t let it control you. Take your return at your own pace, but if you love horses and riding, you will get back in the saddle.

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The Author:


For 20 years Stephanie J. Corum has be involved in various aspects of the horse industry, including Thoroughbred and Arabian racing, breeding and training sport horses and therapeutic riding. Stephanie has maintained her own freelance writing business, SC Equine Enterprises, since 1999 and has published the illustrated children's books "Goats With Coats" and "Antics in the Attic", which won an honorable mention at the 2011 San Francisco Book Festival. Currently she and her husband own Charisma Ridge, a small horse farm in Maryland, and she competes in dressage.

Comments (3)

  1. This is a well written article and the tips are right on. I had a bad fall 3 years ago where I suffered a spinal cord injury at the C2 level with paralysis that was not permanent. My horse was not ridden for a year. When I was able to get back on, I was very tense and expected him to take care of me. He developed resistive behaviors that increased my fears. I had to become the leader again. I attended a clinic that gave me the groundwork and exercises in the saddle to regain confidence in my horse and re-establish me as his leader. I also had my friend and riding instructor work with me. I still have twinges of fear, but have coping mechanisms to keep it a bay. This year we have made unbelievable progress as a team and I am enjoying my riding and my relationship with my horse. Thank you for your suggestions.

  2. A great article with lots of good common sense information that any rider can use. And yes, we have all taken a few falls, but some are more difficult to handle and we do loose confidence at times with certain situations or horses..

  3. I am a former student of Stephanie Corum’s (having had the pleasure of knowing her for 12 years) and seeing this article today and knowing that Stephanie is still out there doing what she does best and being a blessing to others, is a blessing to me! I was born with Cerebral Palsy and at age five or so entered the Franklin County Therapeutic Riding Program for kids with disabilities and for the next twelve years Steph was not only my riding teacher but a very dear friend. And she still remains and will always be a very dear friend! Keep up the good work Steph I miss you!! xx

    Lauren Moore

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