After months of worrying about it, and even visualizing it, I fell off Hamster. Looking back, it is easy to see where the jump went wrong. Even though it was a tiny crossrail, it was still our first jump of the day’s ride and I think Hamster likes to be transitioned into things. Hamster is a baby, and that fact coupled with his naturally lazy canter, meant that we had zero pace going to a jump he didn’t even know we were jumping. It might have been the small size of the jump, or the fact that I am a total amateur, but for some reason I just didn’t really ride to it, and I let him chip the fence. When we landed he did a playful buck and we both went in two different directions.

As a child rider, I was falling off my ponies every other day. However, as an adult, I luckily haven’t fallen off that often. The ground is harder than I remember! Maybe it is just that the distance off the ground is considerably greater. Or maybe my body doesn’t bounce as well anymore. Regardless, now it really knocks the air out of me and stuns me every time. Unlike Chloe, who gallops around the ring like a wild horse after people fall, Hamster just stood there looking at me. We both knew I was getting back on. I did the jump again, this time with a reasonable pace, one that gave me options. I collected him and didn’t just drop him in front of the jump. We jumped it round and pretty, landing and finishing with a lead change in the corner.

I can’t imagine not getting back on and trying again after a fall. Of course, getting back on and getting back on bravely are two entirely different things.  This specific time I don’t feel like I was scared about it, which surprises me when I think back on it. You would have thought that since my worst fear came true, I would have been terrified of getting back on and jumping. Instead, I really wanted to fix my mistake. I really felt like Hamster deserved better than that crappy fence!

I wish I could say that the rest of the ride was stellar, but truthfully Hamster was in sort of a weird mood. All of the horses were that day. Even the colors of the sky looked spooky, as a hurricane was hours away from making landfall on our North Carolina shores. I did a few more jumps and fixed some other things we wanted to work on, but I definitely cut the ride short once I felt like we were finishing on a good note.

I am still afraid of falling, which is a fear I don’t think will ever leave me. I am just happy that the dreaded first fall is over with and even happier that I realized my mistakes and fixed them immediately. One of my favorite things about riding Hamster is seeing the improvement in him, and even in myself, each and every week.  Of course, I wish it would not have taken a fall to remind myself to ride every stride and to always have a plan, but it did, and I do not want to dwell on it. Instead, it is just another way horse back riding teaches you valuable life lessons for in and out of the arena.

Andrea Wise graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2007, where afterwards she spent 7 years as a commercial real-estate attorney.  In 2012, she launched the equestrian company, Pony Glam, which makes and sells the only colored hoof dressing for horses. She is also the voice behind the new equestrian lifestyle blog, Horse Glam. Andrea lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Zach, two young children, cat and horse, Chloe.
September 26, 2019