Your first fall
I’m just going to say that I have fallen a lot. Like, if there were a prize to be awarded for perfecting the art of falling off, it would be retired with me because I would have won it so much. For the record, my falling habit is not restricted to horse activities – I fall regularly on my inline skates, down stairs, in the woods with my dogs. I’m a professional clutz.
Since I have been falling off of horses for as long as I’ve been riding them, I’ve got quite a selection of wipeouts to choose from. I can’t say I remember my actual first fall, but the first one I remember was a good one. I had probably been riding for a few years at this point, and a few of us kids were riding around in the indoor arena at our barn. I was on Star bareback and I don’t remember what happened, but I do recall flying off backwards and sideways and crashing into the support piller on the side of the arena wall. You know those ones that are about a foot thick? Well, they make quite an impression when you land in one like you were ejected from a cannon!
The one that was probably my worst fall ever, I remember clearly. We were at a show in Harlansburg, Pennsylvania and I was riding Floyd in one of the game classes. I fell off of Floyd a lot. So much so that people started to watch me ride to see, Would she hang on this time around? He was very difficult to ride and had a lot of gas. I definitely learned what a good seat meant when I got this horse – although it took me several years and a lot of wipeouts to figure it out! Anyway, this particular fall happened in one of the game classes. I remember it because we just had a really great run and I was feeling brave enough to let him have his head and run out a bit. In the Appaloosa game classes, we run horse against horse. We never run in or out of the gate, we come in to the arena and wait for a timer. So needless to say, there is a STOP at the end of the run. Floyd didn’t really like to stop. On this particular day, we did not agree on Whoa and we had a parting of ways. As in, we barreled toward the fence at Mach 90, my eyes bugging out of my head and people diving out of our way as we approached. Floyd ducked right at the last moment and I sailed gracefully over his head and flew into the fence post, hitting it hard with my shoulder and sliding to the ground. I casually got up, led my horse out of the ring and completed the rest of my runs. I don’t think anyone knows to this day that my shoulder still gives me grief and pops in and out all the time!
My most embarrassing fall was also with Floyd and happened at the National Show one year. I can’t even blame Floyd for this one, as it was totally my fault. I wasn’t feeling very well on this day and was a bit dehydrated. We were entered into the Camas Prairie Stump Race (barrel race) and we had to run our elimination race for time. They take the top 16 times back to run horse against horse in the finals. We started our run and had a great first barrel. As I approached the second barrel, where the photographer was seated, I blacked out and fell off. It was just a momentary thing, but it was enough that I landed on my face in the Coliseum with more than a hundred people wondering how I managed to fall of while I was running in a straight line. My last image as I went down was the photographer diving for cover as my riderless horse approached at the speed of light. As if that humiliation wasn’t enough fun, I then had to watch all the ring stewards attempt to catch my naughty spotted boy as he lapped the Coliseum for ten minutes at a dead run. As you can see, this fall was one for the books.