So I fell off last week. It was fairly dramatic, yet also anti-climactic, and I wasn’t hurt.
I was riding Prada, who, despite having already experienced several unplanned dismounts from, I still quite like riding. She’s fun and fancy when I stay on.
Anyway. It was my first real jumping lesson after a long break from the holidays and family stuff. We popped over the first fence just fine, then came around to an oxer. It was probably 2’6″. (I am terrible at judging fence height though.) We came up with good pace and – stopped.
You know how sometimes you don’t have clear memories of stuff that happens too quickly? This is what I remember. Flying up her neck and seeing her ears too close to my face. Being on the ground on my side, looking up and back toward the fence. Seeing horse chest, neck, face and legs above me in motion. Having a clear thought that I should curl up to protect my body. Curling up and waiting for the horse to either land on me, strike me with a hoof or step on me. None of these things happening. Opening my eyes and sitting up, to see Prada a few steps away, halted, facing me and with no bridle on.
So I stood up, dusted myself off and performed a mental checklist – yep, everything intact, nothing injured – and by the time I got over to Prada, her bridle was back on. I got right back on (shaky legs on the mounting block, just adrenaline, ignore it). We came around and did the same fence again, only this time it was just a bitty crossrail. No problem.
Later in the lesson, Prada stopped repeatedly at a different fence. We had to try again and again and again, and my determination/frustration finally won out. I felt pretty good about my confidence and determination to get over the fences. We jumped a few more fences in the course and came around to jump the oxer where I’d fallen, though by this time it had been switched around so we were going the other direction.
And suddenly my anxiety was about as high as it has ever been. I thought about stopping, not jumping it at all, calling it a day. (Stop stop, you can’t do this. Yes you can, just go.) My stubbornness won out. We jumped it. Beautifully, in fact. And then in the middle of the course, I was just done. I told my trainer I was going to stop there, call it a day. My anxiety was too high. By the time I halted in the middle of the arena, my whole body was shaking and my eyes were filling up.
I hate that feeling.
Generally I’m a pretty confident and mentally tough rider. If I have nerves, I’m pretty good at riding through them and not letting them affect my concentration. Falling off usually doesn’t rattle me too much, or for too long. Even this time, I was fine to keep riding until about 20 minutes later. Delayed onset anxiety.
And this time I keep reliving it and thinking about it.
My trainer was very smart about it. After awhile, she had me do one more course with bitty baby jumps, and it went very smoothly. A much better way to end a lesson. And she said that in our next lesson we’d keep the jumps small.
It’s just frustrating. I don’t want setbacks. Especially since my riding time is more limited these days. But I will push on, boot up and ride again this week.