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  • Mimi

Super-boost Your Confidence After a Nasty Fall

As riders of half-ton four-legged beasts, who are still wild animals at the end of the day, we would be nothing without our occasional falls. Every time we sit in the saddle, we are placing our trust in them; trust and confidence that is built through a connection. Inevitably, this goes wrong sometimes and you end up on the floor and that can really knock your confidence. So I'm going to talk you through my latest accident and how I get myself match-fit and event-ready again.

Hitting The Dirt

Having been a dedicated rider for many years, I'm no stranger to receiving a mouth full of dirt after hitting the ground. I’ve had some more serious falls and those that you can do nothing but laugh at (yes, guilty of falling off whilst she was standing still). Yet, one of my more severe falls came not too long ago whilst I was riding one of my foreign trainer’s ex-Grand Prix Showjumpers.

A morning lesson at 8am sharp was going fine, that was until my horse decided it would rather fly than land a simple flying change; of course, I flew too. I landed on my hip with a very audible thud, and initially I couldn’t move my right leg and was suffering hot shooting pains up my back as I was being sick on the floor next to me.

Far away from home in a country where we didn’t speak the language, the travel back home was an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, as I could barely move an inch without wanting to cry and I’m a through-and-through horsewoman. AND Covid restrictions to add to the stress! Eventually arriving at the hospital (yes, the picture is me, taken by Mum), I was taken through immediately to the neurologist where she diagnosed me with a severely bruised kidney, hipbone, internal bruising on the spine and a damaged compressed sciatic nerve that left me not being able to walk for weeks. Despite the slow recovery predicted, my parents, physio and yard team were amazing enough to help me to one of the quickest recoveries for a nerve injury my physio had seen. Now came the BIG question; would riding be the same after that fall?

Getting Back In The Saddle

I won’t lie, it was probably one of the most nerve-racking moments hoisting myself back into my saddle after a few months. Me and my current horse of 4 years (Flying Fi) have had some ups and downs, and I still trusted her, it was just the fear of falling again that was making me shake. But I had to face I was riding a horse; it was a near guarantee at some point I would fall again. It also helped to have a smack up the backside from my dad, though growing up with him I wasn’t surprised. But I did it, and slowly I’ve been building up my time out on hacks to somewhat near where I was before.

So, after listening to my sob story, I can tell you a few of my tips and tricks for regaining your confidence again after that fall or accident you had:

1. Take Your Time:

Breathe! I remember my trainer shouting at me over the school to actually breathe like a normal human being. Don’t rush to go jumping again or go for a gallop. It’s good to push yourself despite the negativity you might be feeling but you need to remember not to let those negative thoughts override your mental state as we all know our steeds can feel the tension.

2. Be Prepared:

There’s no dignity lost if you ride with a body protector, a neck strap or even having someone on the ground to look out for you, especially after a traumatic affair. If anything, this should boost your confidence in knowing your safety if you were to fall again.

3. The Horse Needs Confidence Too:

This depends on if your horse was involved in the accident or not (luckily for me she was munching on a hay net at home) but no matter, horses need to feel confident in their work as well. If they show some insecurity, try get another capable rider to show him everything is okay as this will not only reduce pressure on you, but he will be able to reassure you once he has a steady footing again.

Remember: Just take your time, kit-up accordingly and go steady. You'll get there!

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