Why Ride?

  I am back with another post for all of you to read. I apologise for not publishing a post last week. I had meant to post, but since I was off on a mini vacation, there wasn't much time for me to sit down and write.

  Anyway, I've gotten a lot of questions from friends, family and strangers over the years about why I chose to start horseback riding and why I chose one discipline over another. I figured my response to these questions would make a good post that will allow you to get to know me a bit more.

  I had written a blog hop post related to this topic which you can read about by clicking here. In that post, I talked about why I still have my passion to ride and why I am so loyal to the sport. I explained that it's more than just a sport, but a special partnership too. What I didn't talk about in that post is what drew me to the sport to begin with.

  Every little girl would love to have their own pony and I was no different. I met my first horse at the age of three and begged my parents to ride until my first lesson at the age of seven. I couldn't tell you exactly what sparked my desire to ride because I can't remember.

  I was never a sporty person. Before I started riding, my parents signed me up for soccer, swimming and figure skating. None of these sports clicked with me like riding did. It didn't come naturally to me and I never had a desire to improve myself. In school, I was usually picked last when it came to physical activities. I was just never any good at playing volleyball, floor hockey or football. I always wanted to find a sport of my own. I liked the idea of being sporty, but I was never any good.

  Riding, however, came naturally to me. Even to this day, I'm a little surprised I ever did find a sport that worked for me. As I started to learn how to walk, trot and canter, I discovered the uniqueness of the sport and I was hooked.

  Where I lived, English riding (especially hunter/jumper) was generally the discipline of choice. So in some ways, my discipline was kind of chosen for me. I grasped the basics of riding at a hunter/jumper barn and learnt that I love jumping and didn't like the flat. My parents then enrolled me in a summer riding camp for a few years where they focused on eventing. This was where my views of the flat and dressage changed and I gained more respect and admiration for the discipline. This was also where I was introduced to cross-country.

  I am now at a point where I have to choose which discipline I would like to keep training in. I've decided to train in hunter/jumper simply because I've always had the goal of being like the show jumpers I've watched on tv for so many years.

  I have so much respect for riders of all disciplines and I believe there is no such thing as one discipline being better than another. Not one discipline is easier than another; they all have their challenges. If you love the partnership of riding, but you know that hunter/jumper or eventing is not right for you, there are so many other disciplines to try. I think that vaulting is amazing and that barrel racing is exciting. Maybe you'll find your spot in the horse world by training through natural horsemanship. You'll never know until you try.

  So I hope that you have learnt a little bit more about me through this post. I'd love to know why you chose to ride and why you chose your discipline over another. Please let me know in the comments or in a blog post response. I wish you all a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading.

  Until next time, happy riding!

We All Fall Down

  As I have mentioned in Monday's post (which you can read here if you missed it), I'll be talking about my most recent fall experience. The last time I fell off of a horse was about 3 or 4 years ago. It was an experience that I probably won't ever forget and is something that I will learn from in the future.

  At the time, I had been working at a horseback riding camp that focused on the eventing discipline. They also taught the basics of vaulting as a fun activity to do with the campers. During that one summer, they wanted to try out another horse for vaulting as the horse that they were using had become too old to have children riding him.

  They asked if I would like to be the one to get on this horse first to see if he would make a good vaulting horse for the kids. Naturally, I said yes because I was eager to help out in anyway I could. We got the horse tacked up and into a small round pen.

  First, we just longed the horse without me on him to get him used to the surcingle around his belly. Then I got a leg up and we started walking around with the person longeing in the middle. The horse was fine at the walk. I made sure to swing my arms and legs around and to touch the horse in areas a child's hand or foot might land while vaulting. There were no signs of any sort of unease with the horse.

  So we thought that things were going great. The next step was to ask the horse to trot so we could see how he would react to that. The person in the middle asked him to trot, but the horse ignored her and just kept on walking. I decided I would squeeze my legs to help him understand what we were asking of him. He started to trot for a few steps before everything went south.

  The horse started bucking and rearing. All of a sudden I was on a bronc. I figured the best thing to do would be to hold on and ride it out. This horse was pretty chubby so he would run out of energy eventually. I held onto the surcingle and hoped that the person in the middle would be able to stop him. By that point, I guess we were drawing a lot of attention to ourselves and making the campers nervous. The person who was longeing asked me to get off the horse. So I did.

  I started to dismount just as the horse started to kick out pretty high. Because of that, I didn't have enough balance to land on my feet so I landed on my side instead. Since we were in such a small round ring, I was too focused on getting up and out of the way before the horse would step on me that I wasn't yet aware of my whereabouts.

  I remember the person longeing telling me to get into the middle of the ring while she calmed the horse. The problem was, I couldn't figure out where the middle was. I kept trying to find it but all I saw was sand as my vision started to darken around the edges. I don't know how long I was passed out for. A couple of minutes maybe. All I know is that I could hear them saying to call 911 and I remember telling myself to fight it and come back to reality. When I opened my eyes, the horse was gone and I was lying on the person's lap as someone brought a cold water soaked towel for me.

  When the ambulance arrived, they did a quick exam. I knew that I didn't have anything broken, but my head was a little soar. They didn't want to take any chances so they took me to the hospital. They did a few x rays and then let me go. Nothing was wrong with me, thank goodness and they told me that I could start riding again right away. They also said that the passing out was probably caused by not drinking enough water and getting up too fast after a fall.

  So to make a long story short. I'm okay and I still love to ride. I also don't blame the person who was longeing at all and I understand their reasoning for asking me to get off in the first pace. I'm not afraid of that horse or longeing or vaulting. But I will make sure to drink more water and to wait a few seconds and get my bearings before I get up off the floor from a fall.

  If there's one thing I'd like for you to do, it's to please take your time when getting up from a fall. Learn from my experience before it becomes your own. We will all fall off our horses and we will get back on. We learn from our mistakes and that's what's important.

  Until next time, happy (and safe) riding!