I knew this day would come, and I had been dreading it. I mean...horseback riding isn’t exactly hallmarked as a safe sport. There is inherent danger in flying over jumps on an unpredictable, large animal. I mean...my baby girl (ok not a baby exactly, but only 7), had been riding for almost 6 months and hadn’t fallen yet, so I was very grateful. Maybe we would totally avoid that awful inevitability. Not quite...
It was a pretty routine, normal lesson. Nothing special to note. Savannah had jumped this course already that day and everything was fine. This time, not so much. She was approaching the cross-rail at a canter and all of a sudden IT happened. I could see the miscommunication happen between rider and pony. They were not on the same page at all. Horse was going left and rider was going right. My little equestrian went tumbling down over the head of her pony and landed smack across the rail with her back. She bounced off of the 4x4 pole and onto her stomach in the dirt.
The panic that set over me is indescribable. Is she hurt? Is anything broken? Should I run to her like a maniac or wait here and let her trainer handle it? All of the unknowns washed over and I just sat there. Karen calmly went over to her little body lying on the ground as I finally stood and started going toward her. I could hear her crying and it melted my heart. Karen checked her over and was asking where it hurt and looking across her ribs in the back. She looked at me, reassuring me that everything looked ok, but said she would probably have one nasty bruise (which she totally did). Like the pro that she is, Karen settled Savannah down and said “Well, we got that out of the way, now let’s get back in the saddle.”
Falls are a part of this sport and to think it will never happen is just unrealistic. Every sport has its risks and this is no different. I think the biggest thing is how you handle them. I’m glad that I sat back and let her trainer take control of the situation, even though everything inside me was telling me otherwise. She said all the right things and once we were all convinced that there were no major injuries she did exactly what needed to be done. Savannah got right back up and rode the same exact course again and jumped the same exact jump that just beat her poor little body up. No time to think about it or let it get into her head.
The mom in me just wanted to hug her, put her in the car, and go get her an ice cream. The equestrian mom in me knew that this was just the first fall and there were going to be more and at some point they will probably get worse. But if my little 7 year old girl isn’t scared to get back in the saddle, then I can’t be either.
- Bobbi Bires, Equestrian Mom since 2016