First fall anxiety

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21 October 2021
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22
To preface, it's always been a dream of mine to learn to ride. I didn't get the opportunity as a child and as an adult, I've always been overweight. COVID hit and I had sudden motivation to lose weight. I finally managed it and within a year I was 4 stone lighter and ready to start my riding journey. I've only been riding once weekly since July, I'll sometimes throw in a second lesson or a hack when I have time and I did a three day "learn to ride" trail ride in August which I loved.

I thought I was doing fairly well and feeling reasonably confident. I've been doing the standard beginner stuff, walk trot transitions, small amount of canter, 20m circles in trot etc.

Had a lesson today and riding school horse was particularly eager! I was trotting a 20m circle and he went into canter which was unexpected. I lost a stirrup, he got faster and came off the circle to go around the school and my mind went blank. I forgot how to do anything and ended up just holding on to the neck strap for dear life as I could feel myself slowly sliding off to one side. Luckily, I didn't fall off and eventually, he slowed back down into walk - although he was raring to go for the rest of the lesson.

I haven't fallen since starting riding and today just brought home that I know absolutely nothing, have no idea what I'm doing and could fall off at any time. I suppose I just wondered if there was any advice people had re confidence and anxiety around that first inevitable fall so I know what to expect!

:)
 

Spotherisk

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Sometimes you fall off when you should have stayed on, sometimes you stay on and have no idea how! You can have falls where you roll and come to your feet in one easy move, with no pain at all and you can have ridiculous falls from a walk or even stood still which result in injury (I had a broken collar bone and broken wrist from being bucked off at a standstill)! You could consider wearing a back protector if that gives you some peace of mind, always make sure your hat is fixed properly and in date and not damaged. You may come off one day, you might not!
 

ArklePig

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I agree with the above!

If it helps, my first proper fall since restarting riding was earlier this year, the horse bucked and bucked and I'm fairly sure I let go of the reins and let it happen after a while. I folded like a deck chair and hit the small of my back. Resulting in a bulging disc. I don't tell you this to scare you, I tell you to tell you what I've learned from it-horse hadn't been ridden in over a week, and I was an idiot to even get on without lunging or having someone more experienced on first.

I was wearing my back protector and medical opinion is that it saved me from more severe injury. So I'd recommend investing in one, it does make me feel safer. If it helps, I haven't fallen since.

As for what to expect, you might hurt, you might not but you will learn something. The odds of it being bad are slim, and it sounds like you are riding in a controlled environment and you are aware of what you don't know, which is a good thing!
 

paddi22

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it's nearly better to get the first fall over early! the idea of it is much worse than the reality! you have to just trust the odds.. loads of people fall every day, and nothing much bad happens. it's like driving a car, statistically at some stage something will happen to you, but chances are it will be harmless. if you thought about what could happen you'd never drive at all!

best you can do is stack the odds in your favour by doing exercises/yoga/pilates to help your balance. looking into sports psychology to help keep your attitude as resilient as possible. and you can even do classes to help you fall properly!

if it's any consolation, it sounds like you have good natural instincts and balance if you remembered to hold the neck strap and stay on!
 
Joined
21 October 2021
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Sometimes you fall off when you should have stayed on, sometimes you stay on and have no idea how! You can have falls where you roll and come to your feet in one easy move, with no pain at all and you can have ridiculous falls from a walk or even stood still which result in injury (I had a broken collar bone and broken wrist from being bucked off at a standstill)! You could consider wearing a back protector if that gives you some peace of mind, always make sure your hat is fixed properly and in date and not damaged. You may come off one day, you might not!
I agree with the above!

If it helps, my first proper fall since restarting riding was earlier this year, the horse bucked and bucked and I'm fairly sure I let go of the reins and let it happen after a while. I folded like a deck chair and hit the small of my back. Resulting in a bulging disc. I don't tell you this to scare you, I tell you to tell you what I've learned from it-horse hadn't been ridden in over a week, and I was an idiot to even get on without lunging or having someone more experienced on first.

I was wearing my back protector and medical opinion is that it saved me from more severe injury. So I'd recommend investing in one, it does make me feel safer. If it helps, I haven't fallen since.

As for what to expect, you might hurt, you might not but you will learn something. The odds of it being bad are slim, and it sounds like you are riding in a controlled environment and you are aware of what you don't know, which is a good thing!
Thank you both for your replies and sharing your experiences. Yes a back protector sounds like a good investment, even if it only helps with feeling more confident. I'd never considered it before so thanks for the idea. Guess I'll be doing a bit of research on those at the weekend!

it's nearly better to get the first fall over early! the idea of it is much worse than the reality! you have to just trust the odds.. loads of people fall every day, and nothing much bad happens. it's like driving a car, statistically at some stage something will happen to you, but chances are it will be harmless. if you thought about what could happen you'd never drive at all!

best you can do is stack the odds in your favour by doing exercises/yoga/pilates to help your balance. looking into sports psychology to help keep your attitude as resilient as possible. and you can even do classes to help you fall properly!

if it's any consolation, it sounds like you have good natural instincts and balance if you remembered to hold the neck strap and stay on!
Now you've said it, I think it would have been better to fall and get it out of the way rather than worrying about when it might actually happen!

I've recently bought an exercise ball and have been trying out some youtube workouts for balance (although not very consistently :oops:) but I have been thinking of giving pilates a go. I have seen those "learn to fall" classes too so they might be worth a shot if I can find one near me. Thanks for the advice, it's much appreciated :)
 

Keith_Beef

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Seine et Oise, France
I just wondered if there was any advice people had re confidence and anxiety around that first inevitable fall so I know what to expect!
Did you ever ride a bicycle? Did you ever go skiing or ice skating? If so, I bet that you fell at least once.

Your post makes me think that you ride in a school's arena or manège, so on sand or some other relatively forgiving surface.

One day, you're going to fall onto that soft surface and if you fall well, you're going to wonder what it was that made you nervous about falling.

If you can do some sort of a class to help you to fall well, then take it! I've often said to my instructors that I find it odd that in martial arts like Judo, Jujitsu and Aikido you learn to fall before you learn to make your opponent fall, but in riding we were never taught this skill.
 

smolmaus

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3 December 2019
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Belfast
I had my first fall in almost 10 years there about 2 months ago (look a 6 year break from riding and was on mostly-retired 20+yos before hand, this is not a brag) and I was getting anxious about it too. I didn't WANT it to happen but I'm glad it did as now it's not hanging over me. My advice is if you know you're gonna go, just go. Pick a spot and pop yourself out the side door rather than trying to cling to the side and getting everybody panicked. And yes definitely get yourself a back protector!

My last fall before that was in walk. No bucking or anything, I still truly believe she teleported sideways then just stood and turned round to look at me.
 

Skib

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London
A bp does help It is like rolling backwards onto a mattress. Sooner or later we all fall off while learning - I was 61 when I started - and we are mostly unhurt. But it is also worth improving your balance. Both on a horse with lunge lessons and with exercises at home.
 

Peglo

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Well done OP on staying on.

I used to fall off frequently on my first pony as I always rode bareback. When I got my first horse I refused to fall off as I didn’t trust her not to give me a boot on the way down 😂 quite a few close shaves but always managed to stay on. Now I’ve not fallen off for 15 odd years (I had a 4 year break when I retired my horse) and I’m not feeling so easy going about falling off anymore but when I’m having a fun canter I usually forget that I could come off. Try not to let the thought ruin your lessons. You sound like your doing great 😊
 

Carlosmum

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Oxfordshire
I don't remember my first unexpected dismount. But they happen occasionally. For many years I stayed on ( kind and sensible ponies) However these days, I take nothing for granted having been dumped by my current chap several times. Being a women of a certain age ( not far short of 60) I no longer bounce so well, so now I wear an air jacket in the hope that it might help. Unfortunately the 2 times I've fallen off with it I landed on the bits that were not covered by the air bags, however such is life. I also use a neckstrap too!
 
Joined
21 October 2021
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Thank you all for the great advice and sharing your experiences. I'll definitely be looking into a back protector, working on some balance exercises at home and just going with the flow and trying not to think about it too much. What will be, will be I guess!

I did have a Google for "falling" lessons and found a great sounding place that do rider confidence days near Hemel Hempstead so might give it a go when they start up the sessions again in 2022 :)
 

Skib

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I too watched vids on how to fall. But in the actual moment it never worked. I hack. I would slip off over the shoulder and carefully not let go of the reins. So I always fell with my arms in the air and thus never broke my arm or collar bone. Always in a bp of course.
 
Joined
26 October 2021
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As said above, the expectation/idea of falling is often far worse than the fall itself! (Obvious exceptions, but most falls aren’t ones resulting in severe injuries) I remember my first fall was my first time riding too, the pony spooked while we were halted and my total lack of balance/strength at the time got the best of me.

With time you’ll gain the strength and balance (and knowledge) to better your seat and hopefully keep you firmly in the saddle a bit easier! A body protector and knowing how to fall and what to expect definitely helps ease the mind though. Our minds automatically think of the ‘worst’ scenarios but in actually, your first fall may end up being very underwhelming compared to what you probably imagined.

Personally I ride in a body protector 24/7, I use a Racesafe Provent 3.0 which i LOVE. I’ve tried lots of body protectors but find this one is so nice, I don’t feel it at all and have never had any issues with it in the years I’ve used them! I always feel so so safe, the extra padding a BP provides has saved me and friends from injuries that could have been significantly worse had we not been wearing one
 

Millie-Rose

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2 April 2012
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186
Thank you all for the great advice and sharing your experiences. I'll definitely be looking into a back protector, working on some balance exercises at home and just going with the flow and trying not to think about it too much. What will be, will be I guess!

I did have a Google for "falling" lessons and found a great sounding place that do rider confidence days near Hemel Hempstead so might give it a go when they start up the sessions again in 2022 :)
If it's the centre for horseback combat one a friend did it and said it was brilliant.
 
Joined
21 October 2021
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22
I too watched vids on how to fall. But in the actual moment it never worked. I hack. I would slip off over the shoulder and carefully not let go of the reins. So I always fell with my arms in the air and thus never broke my arm or collar bone. Always in a bp of course.
Thanks Skib. Glad to hear you managed to fall without broken bones and BP has helped.
As said above, the expectation/idea of falling is often far worse than the fall itself! (Obvious exceptions, but most falls aren’t ones resulting in severe injuries) I remember my first fall was my first time riding too, the pony spooked while we were halted and my total lack of balance/strength at the time got the best of me.

With time you’ll gain the strength and balance (and knowledge) to better your seat and hopefully keep you firmly in the saddle a bit easier! A body protector and knowing how to fall and what to expect definitely helps ease the mind though. Our minds automatically think of the ‘worst’ scenarios but in actually, your first fall may end up being very underwhelming compared to what you probably imagined.

Personally I ride in a body protector 24/7, I use a Racesafe Provent 3.0 which i LOVE. I’ve tried lots of body protectors but find this one is so nice, I don’t feel it at all and have never had any issues with it in the years I’ve used them! I always feel so so safe, the extra padding a BP provides has saved me and friends from injuries that could have been significantly worse had we not been wearing one
Thank you. I'll have a look at the racesafe, sounds great 👍
If it's the centre for horseback combat one a friend did it and said it was brilliant.
Yes that's the one. Has great reviews so will give it a go I think. Looks quite fun too!
 
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