Thanks Liz for the blog post idea. She just posted about ‘how to break your 14 month no-fall-off streak‘. Read it. It’s funny. I’m not being an ass, I mean that what she wrote was funny. Not that she fell off. I hope that you are not to purple today Liz.
Falling off sucks! And yet, I think that you need to fall off every once in a while. Not that I’m going to go out and try and fall off. But I think if you haven’t fallen in a while you build up falls to be worse than they normally are.
That being said, my name is Erin and it’s been 9 years since my last fall. My god, my bones ache just thinking about it. Falling as a twenty something seems a lot different than falling as a thirty something. I have regular daily aches now I don’t need to be adding more to the mix.
Liz asked that I share some of my stickability. But there’s not great secret to it. Basically, I took about 4 years off riding in the middle of that 9 years. You can’t fall off if you don’t get on. So really there was only about 5 years’ worth of time that I could have actually fallen off. Which I guess is still kinda a long time.
My other secret than would be the CRAZY thoroughbred that I used to own. When you aren’t sure when (notice I said when and not if) the horse underneath you is going to turn into a bucking bronco you build up your leg muscles and you learn to sit up.
I got KC at Christmas time, the honeymoon period ended in the spring at our first show. We were in the warm up ring when all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, she spun and took off bucking. I held on for a lap of the ring and then bailed onto a fence that ripped my breeches. So embarrassing! I had never ridden anything like that before. I don’t remember if I instinctively tried to lift her head and couldn’t get it up or if I was in too much shock to do much more than hold on.
Regardless, my quiet little TB was quiet no longer. I started to be able to feel the change in her back. I knew when I could expect a buck or when she’d calmed down. I learned to jam my heels to the ground in a hyper-flexed way and use that as my anchor. My calves became the monstrosities that they are today because I kept those muscles tight just in case I needed to close them on her sides.
I think in a way this helps to explain why I ride better with a lengthened stirrup. I would put my heel so deep that my leg couldn’t help but lengthen. Just one more thing helping to keep me in the saddle.
My core was much stronger then too. Sit tall, shoulders back and be ready to raise your hands. It’s easier to be ready and stop a bucking spree after the first buck than to wrestle her head from between her legs.
Don’t get me wrong I loved my horse. She had mostly great moments. But her not so great moments I think are what shaped me more into the rider that I am.
In 2008 I went back to school and gave KC to a friend. I took a few years off riding and in 2012 decided it was time to go back.
I still rode like I did when I rode KC. Which sometimes was good. Those school horses can be jerks! But mostly it hurt. Coach J pointed out that my heels were WAY too deep and my feet pointed out at strange angles.
Due to injury the angle couldn’t be changed without the help of angled stirrup rubbers (best things ever to help issues with turning out… D’Arcy check these out). But the heels. That I could fix. So I started to change the way I rode and I still didn’t fall off.
Now my only explanation for stickability is that I ride my Tucker. He’s built solid like a square. Am I nervous of falling off? Yep. But I don’t feel like I have to work as hard to stay on. He’s also much more level headed than my crazy TB. Plus I still have those stupid calf muscles should the need ever arise.
When’s the last time you fell off? Do you have any secrets for keeping your butt in the saddle?