Riding always plays a necessary part of my life — escaping from my origin of joy is damn near impossible. But I do go through periods where I experience fewer opportunities to sit in a saddle. This makes me sad to an extent, it boils down to expenses much of the time. During these times, I meditate on my riding.
Not my own, luckily, but I did witness a bad fall this weekend that resulted in a Mother’s Day trip to the Emergency Room.
No one is irreparably harmed. And truly an odd day to be in the Emergency Room, not a lot of accidents happen on this holiday I suspect (unlike Thankgiving Day, when we have deep-frying explosions to contend with).
Falls are unavoidable in this sport. I’ve had my fair share, and I immediately jump up (bad, bad, bad) convinced that the quicker I can get back on and “prove” my toughness, the better off I will be.
This was a false lesson taught to me in the days before extensive research on concussions. And to an extent, we baby children these days on the rigors of horsebacking (locking stirrups away for an entire month seems archaic) but I firmly believe our appreciation for medical consequences is not one of these misguided moments.
We owe it to our brains to be careful, “reputation” and “toughness” be damned. We owe it to our future selves. Reading about continued trauma to the head is enough to make me a lifetime activist.
Thankfully, our rider was wearing a helmet, because she did fall hard.
It’s unfathomable to me that people choose not to wear one, especially when jumping. I will write of another time when I rode western and it was far less common, and I still look back and cringe to days when I justified the choice as it being “impossible to fall off in a western saddle”. Because you are “so secure”. Uh, okay, but how about a horse falling on you?
It was an unacceptable decision.
Even when your horse is behaving admirably, you are 3-5 feet off the ground, and you travel with momentum that has the potential to stop suddenly.
If you are worried about helmet hair, get a gym membership to shower near the barn. If you are worried about feeling a breeze, get a vented helmet. If you are worried about how it looks, trust me, you look much wiser with one on.
I did not intend for this to be a rant about helmet-wearing, but we all ought to be smart when a completely innocuous lesson can turn into a trip to the ER. Respect yourself, and your thoughts, feelings, and well-being!
Riding can be such a thinking sport. Constantly, we mull over our weaknesses and how to address them. We reflect on the challenges our horse is facing and dream up exercises, tack, and strategies to reach the next step in our journey. Meditating on this sport can become all-consuming.
I spend car rides to and from the barn picking apart rides, noting where and why I need an adjustment here and a tweak there. All my directives aim toward supporting the horse I ride that day.
Then I will test out ideas, come to this blog, and write about it. I will also read the blogs of others to devour other ideas from the talented equestrian blogosphere. Throw in a smattering of COTH threads, and my head is rolling.
We are all thinking about our riding. Plotting, planning, and theorizing.