From Endurance to Dressage
Hitting the Dirt
It doesn't happen very often, but on Sunday, I hit the dirt. Thankfully, both of us are okay. I say both of us because I was riding Austin, the neighbor's horse, and he fell on me while doing some trot work.
Have you all seen this video that's making the rounds on Facebook? If not, it shows a rider doing a pretty tough jump course, and the horse stumbles and falls, trapping her beneath him. The horse remains motionless as other riders and grounds crew rush to the rider's aid by flipping him over, freeing the trapped rider.
Fortunately for me, Austin's owner was sitting on a bench watching me ride. Everything was going well. I was working on my h/j position (still enormously funny) while I put Austin through his paces. We had finished up with some canter work and were doing some trot circles and serpentines. He was getting a bit heavy in the turns and wasn't really listening to my half halts.
As we came through the corner at a slow trot, I felt Austin lose his balance behind. He stumbled in the front, but I hoped he would catch himself. Suddenly, all I could see was the dirt fast approaching, and I knew he was going down. Initially, I worried that he was going to summersault on top of me, but he managed to gain a little bit of control.
Instead of flipping over, he fell to the side with me still sitting on him. I hit the dirt softly, but my left leg was underneath him. He didn't move a muscle. I let go of the reins and dragged my leg out from underneath him. Once I was completely out of the way and standing up, he slowly heaved himself back to his feet. By the time he was back on all four legs, his owner was beside him checking to see if we were both alright. When Austin went down, I went out of sight, which worried her greatly. She thought I was completely underneath him.
I've heard people talk about horses taking care of their riders, and I can now say it has definitely happened to me. I could have been seriously injured, but I know that horse was completely aware of where I was, and he did everything he could to avoid hurting me. Even though he was trotting, he tried so hard to keep his balance. I've mentioned before that he's a skyscraper. The dude is a solid 17 hands with a body to match his height. He's huge.
Even so, he went down as softly as he could. And when he hit the ground with me underneath him, he held himself up so that he didn't put all of his weight on my leg. I was able to drag myself free and and stand up without a single smudge of dirt on any part of my body other than on my hip and leg.
We walked Austin around and he looked okay. He does have a bit of a stifle issue on his left side which we think caused his fall. We think the stifle may have locked up a bit, causing him to lose his balance in the hind end. His toe probably caught the dirt which caused him to stumble in the front. He's closer to having his AARP card than he is to being carded so these things happen occasionally. The farrier is scheduled for today so we know his toes were at their longest which might have made it a bit more difficult for him to break over with that inside hind foot.
When it was all said and done, we were both okay (me probably more than him). And like I said, I am SO grateful his owner was there to see the fall. I felt terrible as it was even though I know I didn't cause him to fall, but explaining that to her would have been horrible. His owner took the whole thing in stride though and encouraged me to keep riding him.
I am not sure I could have handled watching my horse go down with as much grace and understanding as she showed. Have you ever watched your horse fall with another rider aboard? Have you ever fallen with someone else's horse? What did you do, or what would you do? I'd love to hear your story.
2/22/2015 10:54:39 pm
I have watched a kid fall with my horse. She was luckily flung forward and away and not trapped underneath her but she definitely slid on her face. I was letting the mare be used for a lesson. Needless to say I quickly changed my mind about that. So terrifying. I also fell with Wynd with a million people watching. He was sweet enough not to step on me when he got up while I just layed there in disbelief. My glasses were stuck in his name and he sweet darling enough to stay with me while I regained my bearings.
2/22/2015 10:59:11 pm
Typos. Don't judge me, hah. *name=mane *sweet=was
Not quite the same, but I was watching the lady who bought my last horse take a lunge lesson on him. I watched as the lady slowly slipped toward the right, then a little more, and a little more, and suddenly she was falling. Horse was 16.3h, so quite a distance to fall, but the lady was fine. Balance wasn't her strong suit.
2/22/2015 11:28:16 pm
Typo's must be contagious. *directly = direction.
2/22/2015 11:29:19 pm
Glad you weren't hurt Karen! That must've been scary. I think I would've been a wreck after that.
A friend of mine's horse was developed vision issues, which she figured out because he kept missing fences and falling. It was absurdly scary!
2/23/2015 01:30:20 am
A couple of years ago my horse fell on my while we were trail riding. We were only walking, and he was not being naughty. Just came upon a slightly muddy spot and for whatever reason he just stepped wrong, slipped and went down on his side. He went down slowly and was careful not to flail or injure me. My left leg was briefly under him, but he carefully rolled back up and stood up. We were both totally fine, but a little shaken!
That's pretty scary- glad you are both ok! I've had a couple falls when the horse went down or even just a notably bad stumble up front, and my mare has lost her hind end around turns a few more times than I would like... But nothing serious. A lesson horse recently had a bad fall tho and it really shattered his confidence. Hope Austin is ok!
2/23/2015 12:42:18 pm
I'm glad you're both ok! Reading about your leg getting caught under him gave me flashbacks! Good boy for taking care of you, and good for you for keeping your head on straight as it happened!
Oh that's a bit scary! So glad to hear you are both okay!
So glad you both are OK! Maybe more frequent trimmes are needed for the gray-haired guy? I knew someone whose horse fell on her because of arthritis - shattered her wrist. Older horses can be dangerous in that way.
3/8/2015 10:23:50 am
I watched my trainer get on my horse today to fight out a serious tantrum, and a few tight circles got a bit hairy. I saw her seem to falter on her front foot a few times when she was yielding her hind, and my heart definitely skipped a beat or two. I did all I really could and tried to take a deep breath, and trust both my horse and my trainer to take care of themselves, and luckily it turned out okay. Definitely scary territory, I've seen a horse flip over on top of her rider once, and I hope never to have to see it again.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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