AN: This is a true story that really happened to me. So, yeah. I wrote it for Chicken Soup for the Soul ~ Lemons to Lemonade.
I started riding when I was nine years old – I am now 14, and in those years, I've fallen off a horse at least ten times. Some were painful, like the time I fell into a jump, some were comical, like when I shouted 'Mum!' as I went over the horse's shoulder, and some will stay with me forever. Mainly because they were so damn stupid (although painful too!).
The example of the last time was when I was about 10 or 11 years old. It was quite warm in summer, and I was riding an exceptionally bouncy horse called Hugo. One thing that sticks out to me was the fact that my friend, Dominic, was watching me whilst this calamity happened. Oh, the embarrassment.
Anyway, at this particular lesson, my instructor had decided to make us work without stirrups, but we weren't allowed to hold onto the saddle. Walking was fine. But then we started trotting, and I knew immediately that this was a bad, bad idea.
We (our ride) went around the first corner. As we passed the wooden fence at the side, I just slipped off. Straight off the side. And grabbed onto the fence on the way. Hugo just carried on trotting, completely oblivious that I was hanging for dear life onto this fence.
My instructor boosted me back up into the saddle, and we got trotting again. We went back around to the side where I'd fallen off before, and... I went straight off again, grabbing onto the fence (again) on the way!
I got into the saddle for the third time that lesson. Hugo was probably pretty fed up with me by this time, but I carried on. We started trotting again, and, yes, you guessed it, I fell off.
At the same patch of fence.
And grabbing onto it on the way.
Oh, the shame.
But, yes, it gets worse! I got back on, and... Hit the dirt again.
After the forth time I'd grabbed onto this fence (I think we were quite well acquainted by now), my instructor finally gave me a neck piece (a type of strap that goes around the horse's neck that you can hold onto – it doesn't hurt the horse). We tried trotting again, and I clung onto this piece of leather for dear life – and didn't say hello to the fence again.
After the lesson, I took Hugo back to his stall. Most people in this situation would probably say that that would be their worst lesson. But, personally, I thought it was one of the best! I learnt so much about trotting, and how to keep my balance; it was really useful! Even though I made a fool of myself in front of the other riders and Dominic, Hugo had given me an amazing and useful experience, and an unbeaten record of falls in a lesson.
Besides, you know what they say – you're never a proper rider until you've fallen off at least seven times!