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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2007
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    81

    Default I had a BAD fall, my air speed saved my life

    It happened......I fell off while showing in a jumper class, total rider error, I got ahead of my horse, he added an extra step and I jumped before he did. I landed in his landing spot and he twisted his body to miss me.....I love my horse. The thing is I whiplashed my neck and my head hit the groung HARD on the back. I knew as soon as it happened I wouldn't be getting up. The ambulance came, they put my on a back board, which I can say is NOT a pleasant expierence. My head hurt soooo much, a ct scan showed no bleeds or fractures thank God! The ER doc said I had a significant concussion. I was able to go home that night. It's now 1 1/2 weeks later and I'm feeling about 90 % pain free.

    One problem....

    How do I get my confidence back? I'm of rider with 25 years expierence in the showring and now the thought of doing it again brings on panic. Is it over for me? I really didn't expect this to be the reason I stopped showing.

    By the way my GPA did save my life.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 2, 2007
    Location
    Finland and NJ
    Posts
    2,262

    Default

    Holy cow! Jingles for you for a full recovery. My horse once slipped, twisted to miss me, and I smacked my head hard. I later on told my parents, "And this is why I buy $500 helmets." They had yelled at me before for buying "horse stuff" that was so expensive.

    Get on a saint of a horse that won't spook if a bomb is going off next to him. Get on a pony, if you're dealing with height difficulties. Take things slow. Rushing can create more panic and insecurity. If you don't want to ride, go to the barn just to be around the horses. Eventually, you might have the nerve to get back in the saddle.

    Good luck!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 3, 2004
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    3,823

    Default

    I had a bad fall that was my fault many years ago. (leaving out a stride at an oxer-bad rider).

    anyway, I trusted my trainer and she put me on a horse that most folks said was a stopper. He wasn't. He needed to be ridden to the base of the jump. It just took one lesson to get my confidence back.
    A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2008
    Posts
    2,201

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iccir View Post

    How do I get my confidence back? I'm of rider with 25 years expierence in the showring and now the thought of doing it again brings on panic. Is it over for me? I really didn't expect this to be the reason I stopped showing.
    The sooner you get back on, the better. Use an ancient schoolie if you need to, just do walk lessons for a few weeks, whatever it takes. Just GET. BACK. ON.

    From personal experience, I never REALLY get my confidence back until I have another fall, as weird as that sounds... it takes a "good" fall, one where I don't get hurt at all and pop right back to my feet, to remind me that accidents do happen and every fall isn't going to kill me. Until then, that crazy voice in my head has me on pins and needles every time.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 2, 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6,227

    Default

    No, it does not have to be the end for you, just give yourself time to deal with it because something like this understandably gets in your head a bit because you become very aware of the possibility and the potential that it could have been worse. I had a similar, though not as bad, rider-error fall several years ago - was popping around my warm-up course in a lesson, mind on a million things, and I jumped ahead just as my mare hesitated at a funny early-morning shadow at the jump. She stopped, and I went, but thankfully had enough time to duck my head and landed on the back of my left shoulder - no fractures, just muscular strains in my back, couldn't move off the couch for a week, or ride for a month. When it came time to start back, I had a knot in my stomach every time I drove to the barn, and a 2' jump looked huge. I told my trainer how I was feeling, and we dropped all the way back to crossrails and she told me we'd be doing those til I was bored to tears and begging for something different. Approaching it that way took the pressure off and my anxiety faded over the next two or three weeks and once I was past it, I moved back up fairly quickly. I do think, however, that it undermined my confidence going forward to some degree - before that, coming off never really entered my mind as a possibility, and after that I couldn't help but be at least somewhat aware. So, if you are like me you may not forget it, but you will be able to move past it if you take it slow and give yourself time to get over your nerves. Don't set a timetable or put pressure on yourself. good luck!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 19, 2007
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Sorry to hear about your injury, glad that you are ok. Helmets are amazing!

    I had a helmet save me a couple times, the worse was long time ago, was jumping around a children's hunter course, and there was a gate that wastouching the ground at an angle, my horse stumbled right before it, and tried to jump, but hit both front legs and had a rotational fall I hit hard and square on the front of my head/helmet he somehow swung his body (his face went down into the dirt and he pivoted on his neck) so that his legs and not his body went over me. I was knocked out for a few minutes. Wound up cracking my old (bubble head) helmet, and having a lovely black eye and concussion.

    I got back into riding my horse after we both were cleared healthy. For me, I had to see someone ride him a couple times, then we took it very very slow, lots of long and loose hacking (he loved that) then gradual jumping, one day it kind of just clicked and I was back to my old self.

    More recently, I threw my upper body at a 2' warmup fence, and the horse I was riding was not feeling generous, and stopped, I went right into the jump and ground fracturing my elbow and messing up my hip. I did get back on that day and jump again which was fine. When I was healed, I got back on the same horse and took it a little slower (and stopped throwing my upper body).

    Things that help me after falls: hacking, small gymastics (takes the fear of finding a distance), lots of trot fences with ground poles, cantering small verticals with poles, and trot in canter out lines.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2009
    Posts
    2,108

    Default

    I'm glad you're okay and I'm sorry to hear that happened. I thought I would pipe up since I've had a few really bad accidents that thank goodness I was wearing a helmet as well. My horse tried to jump a fence once that he wasn't supposed to... a pipe arena fence at a dead gallop. He didn't clear it and was teeter tottering on it while I flew off over the fence. I looked up and rolled over as he finally got himself off the fence and landing right where my head was. He still caught my head as he was running away. I fractured 2 vertebrae and had a concussion as well. So I completely understand the feeling of sheer panic at the thought of getting back on.

    I had had other almost as serious falls, but this one just got to me the most. I didn't think I would get back on ever again. But I did... I did give myself time off. They say you should get right back on, but I just couldn't... for one because of the physical pain and injuries obviously, but I guess it was just one fall too many for me. My horse ended up foundering because of the whole ordeal. We thought we were going to lose him. So I nursed him back to health. In taking care of him I guess something just clicked and made me realize that it just couldn't be the end of riding for either of us. I did what others suggested... get on the most bombproof of any horse in the barn. It was really hard, but it was a relief. I'll admit it... I sobbed uncontrollably when I got back on. It was just such a mixture of panic, happiness, relief, sadness, etc., but just a little overwhelming. I had to have looked like an absolute beginner the way I was clinging to the saddle for dear life. I was surprised how quickly I bounced back though. It really only took the one time (and like another poster mentioned) a minor fall to help me realize I was ok. You'll be fine. Just find the pluckiest horse around that would let you do cartwheels on his back and you can do it! Heck, have someone lead you around the first time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being afraid and worried. It happens to the best of them. ::hugs::



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 24, 2006
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    685

    Default

    Do what the other people have said start out slow!! Don't ver give up doing what you love to do because your affraid of it. Even if it takes two years to get back to where you were don't quit!!!!!!!
    Author of COTH article "The Other Side of Aaron Vale"



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 26, 2000
    Location
    I live in Chantilly, VA but I ride in Anytown, USA
    Posts
    7,563

    Default

    My GOD how I hate head trauma. Even though I didn't fall from a horse or over a big jump, I did last year go face first, literally, as in sliding on my face for a few feet or so, from a pony. That SO blows. I had blue stone and sand in my mouth and it literally worked its way under the skin of my lips and my chin. The whole right side of my face was scraped, including inside my nostrils. What a joyous occasion.

    I had a fall a year or so before that where my head also got clocked (my horse kicked me in the back of my helmet as I went flying on my way down) and I have to say, I sincerely hate head trauma.

    You'll be fine - just take it slow. I actually got back on the pony when I was done (thankfully no EMTs were present) but realize now that was absolutely crazy and crazy for anyone to have let me. But it was good for my psyche to do it.

    I don't worry to the jumps now or anything because of it. I will not, however, even bother to get on a horse now if all systems aren't 'go'. For instance, I'm bringing a horse back from a layup who has been stall bound for the past 3 or 4 months. If we have a crisp day with a little wind and she has that certain look in her eye, I have zero interest in getting on. We had a hi-ho Silver moment a few weeks ago and I have to say, I'm just not down with it. Just too old and I've paid my frickin' dues. I don't have to be brave anymore.

    So, do what is in your comfort level and you'll piece everything back together.

    "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2008
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    504

    Default

    This is such a timely thread for me. I had what could've been a really nasty fall while jumping about 3 weeks ago. I was in my lesson and my horse and I came over a 2'9-3'0 jump on a line that is diagonal to the fence line of the property. As we jumped, some Paso Finos came trac-a-trac down the street from behind our vision, or mine anyway. My horse upon landing threw a buck, I didn't have time to recover and he threw another and I went up on his neck and over at a gallop. Oddly, after I fell, he just stood there, good boy. I hit the ground hard, but bc I could feel myself going forward I was able to roll off and I think that softened it a bit. But thank goodness for my helmet. I was pretty beat up, twisted my knee, jambed my thumb and had a headache for 2 days. Now, I'm 55 yrs old, and although I may think like a younger person, my body isn't. So I considered myself very lucky to have gotten away with so little injury.

    I waited for 3 days to ride again. I pretty much trust my horse, he's an exceptionally level headed thing for a 6 yr old tb. I have no problem flatting him. But the jumping has really been set back. As someone said, 2'-0 looks dangerous to me. I've been practicing over crossrails, doing a lot of what's been suggested above, and it does help.

    I'm not back there yet, but I think I will get there eventually. Setbacks like these are part of riding for any real rider. I feel almost ashamed when my trainer comes, but what's that saying? "If you've never taken a fall, you haven't ridden". I just try to keep telling myself that and trying to visual the good jumps.

    To the OP, I hope you'll get back on and try it again, take baby steps if you need to. Or as another trainer suggested, have a beer or a shot of tequila to calm your nerves! But keep on going, to whatever level you feel you can, otherwise it will haunt you.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,802

    Default

    I had a bad fall nearly three years ago and had surgery on my knee. It has taken me a long time to regain my confidence.

    Yes, ride school masters. I started out riding the same goofy, spooky horse that I fell off and it did nothing for my confidence. I later sold him and started riding an angel of a horse. THAT did wonders in getting my confidence back.

    Do only what you feel comfortable with. It's your decision when to ride, which horse to ride, what to do on horseback.

    Find a trainer who understands. I cannot give my trainer enough credit for reinstilling my confidence. She knew exactly when to push, and when to call it a day.

    And, yes, weird as it seems, taking that first non-injury fall after a bad one is completely freeing. I fell off a few weeks ago...first one since THE BAD ONE. It's hard to explain, but it made me feel so much safer. I am NOT encouraging you to intentionally fall off! Do whatever you can to stay on! But just know that it's all part of the process.

    Jingles and hugs to you!
    ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2001
    Location
    USA, formerly Canada!
    Posts
    691

    Default

    I'm pretty sure I actually saw your fall. Was it on Friday the 15th of May? If so, it was horrifying and I was so scared for you. Glad you are ok!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2009
    Posts
    172

    Default

    As others have said, get on as soon as you can, but go slow with it and ride a horse you feel comfortable with.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Posts
    457

    Default

    Time.

    I had a bad fall when I was about 13. Cantering without stirrups under the lights, bird flew out of the shadows and the dutch WB I was on took off, bucked, I ended up stradling his neck at a fast canter. I landed in front of him on my face, he cantered over top of me, barely missing my back and kicking my arm. Thank God nothing broke, but I had some nasty bruises. It took me 2 months to canter him again, and I never cantered again without stirrups. I also didn't have an intsructor pushing me.

    More recently (I USED to tell people I train "problem horses" ) I had a crazy 7 year old unbroke mare throw me into a metal pipe fence. Put a huge dent in my helmet, fractured a bone in my hand, and I probably had a concussion, among many bumps and bruises. Crazy mare then proceeded to run around round pen until she jumped into the side of it, ending up with 17 sutures in her knee. She was nuts. It took me a while to realize that not ALL unbroke horses will try to kill me, but after a few months I forgot about it.

    Good luck and jingles for a speedy recovery!
    In loving memory of my precious Gwendolyn; you will always be with me, in my heart. I love you.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2007
    Posts
    839

    Default

    I'll add something different. The best piece of advice I received when scared to do something on horseback is, "Wait until you can't stand NOT to do it." I've used this several times, and it works great for me. It took me 18 months to jump something after a horse flipped on me and I broke my arm badly. I had to wait until I saw a log in the woods that was just BEGGING to be jumped. I couldn't stand to NOT jump it. Then, and only then was it time to jump again. For you, maybe that will be today, tomorrow, in 6 months, 6 years, or never. Doesn't really matter.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
    Posts
    4,584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dmalbone View Post
    I'll admit it... I sobbed uncontrollably when I got back on. It was just such a mixture of panic, happiness, relief, sadness, etc., but just a little overwhelming.
    That honestly brought a little tear to my eye when I read this. Because I know that release so well. I think that is what needs to happen to really get over a bad fall. How you find that release is different for everyone, but letting it out and letting it go is what will make it something that happened to you once upon a time, as opposed to something you still fixate on.

    OP, so glad you are ok. You'll get there. Take your time. You've got a lot of experience. That will help you, but as others have said, don't be afraid to just start back at square one when the time is right. Don't pressure yourself, just imagine you are getting on for the first time when you first do it. Clean slate.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 7, 2007
    Location
    Hunterdon, NJ
    Posts
    195

    Default

    I had a bad fall a few years ago. I knew that if I did not get back on ASAP I would be afraid for a long, long time, so I gave my injuries just enough healing time that I could get around somewhat decently with the aid of crutches and serious painkillers. Then I went to the barn, where my friend was hacking around on her bombproof, round, couch comfortable pony bareback and asked her if I could borrow him for a moment. I somehow managed to climb up there (wasn't easy) without letting myself think about it too much, then just walked on a circle once around and got off. (I couldn't physically do more than that.) When I was more healed, I spent a month on a very safe, never put a foot wrong type of pony and then went back to my horse in time. It's just a process - you'll be scared but you just have to do it anyway and work through the fear.

    Another quick story - I ALWAYS wear my helmet, but last winter I was all tacked up and walking out to the ring and realized for whatever reason I'd forgotten to put my helmet on (I never do that). I thought "Oh, well, it'll be fine, Baron's good and nothing's going to happen." (The horse is a semi-retired GP horse and broke broke broke.) So I kept walking. Then something made me turn around, go back in the barn, and put it on. Well, 20 minutes into the ride, we're cantering along and a deer jumps out of the trees just next to us in the ring. He spooks just a little, but then tangles his legs up somehow and falls, catapulting me headfirst into the rocky and totally frozen ground just next to the arena. My head hit so hard that I could actually feel my helmet absorbing the shock wave - it felt like a jolt going around the helmet really fast. I was bruised and sore the next day, but I hate to think what state my head would have been in if I hadn't decided to go back for the helmet



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2009
    Location
    Rock Chalk!
    Posts
    3,092

    Default

    Wow! I am so glad you weren't seriously hurt, and that you were wearing a helmet. I do know how you feel, though.

    Last year, at our last show, I came into the final line of a perfect course. coming in, we had hit 7 of 7 fences. Perfectly. Lead changes were clean & spot on. We get to the last line, and had an ok jump in, but she started dragging. I originally was going for a nice 5, but realized quickly that wasn't going to happen, so opted for the 4 with a long distance to the last fence. At the base of fence #9, she changed her mind and put in #5, then stopped cold. I went right on over the fence without her, taking out the back rail of the oxer and pulling her bridle off her head. I dented my helmet. DD, DH, MIL and half our barn was there (it was late afternoon on Grand Prix night, so everyone decided to come wathc me ride before the Prix). I thought I'd broken my thumb/wrist, but just sprained it badly. I didn't ride the last day of the show because I couldn't hold reins, and thus was off for a couple of weeks.

    It took me several months of no pressure riding to get back into my groove. I didn't jump anythings big (as in nothing over 2'3"), didn't do anything that could land me in the dirt. My trainer is good about pushing just enough, so when I was having a bad day, we did things where I could be successful but challenged (who knew you could work so hard at things at 2'?). Now, I'm pretty much back, and it feels good. Take it slow, do things you can feel confident at and remember we do this for FUN! At our age, we have to enjoy it
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 27, 2007
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    Behind the Orange Curtain
    Posts
    9,694

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    Quote Originally Posted by InstigatorKate View Post
    I'll add something different. The best piece of advice I received when scared to do something on horseback is, "Wait until you can't stand NOT to do it."
    I really love this



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2003
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    10,825

    Default

    Glad to hear your helmet did what it was suppose to.

    As for getting back on and being okay? It takes time. I broke my arm pretty badly a few years ago and it took a long while to get back in the saddle (6 months?) and even longer to get back to where I was pre-fall.

    Even now, about 3.5 years later, I have days when I am cantering down to a jump and will be absolutely sure that's the jump I'm going to crash through and get seriously injured at. It's not a fun way to approach something. When this happens, I basically tell my brain to shut the hell up and then go through my check list to make sure the jump will come up as good as it can.

    I hate that I have all this baggage as a rider, but there's not a whole lot to do about it. In the beginning I would have some really bad days when I would be having a hard time getting over anything..even crossrails. On those days, I would do the jump one more time (in my mind that meant I the fear didn't win) and be done. Sometimes, that's a what I needed to label as 'success' instead of a nice course of 8 jumps.

    Just go as slow as you need to.
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"



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