Falling Hard (Guest Post)

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a little girl who fell off her horse in my lesson and how awesome it was that she just got back up. The strength! The fortitude!  None of my opinion on that has changed but my personal experience has been recently. . .”enriched” to put it mildly in the experience of falling off moving things and the consequences.

Many people who participate in sport take risks. Some of them are extreme and some of them are more minor. Everyone has to gauge what they are comfortable with and I have no problem with that. My two primary sports these days are horseback  riding and road cycling. Both of them are thrilling and more on the risky side. I’ve managed not to hurt myself doing either in a long long time. Alas, I broke that streak big time in the month of May.

First there was Clover. This is her:

Hey there, got any treats?

She is a rather large mare and, as we say in the horse world, a bit green. That means spring is a “SUPER FUN TIME I’M SO EXCITED OMG WHAT WAS THAT BOLT DOGE BUCK ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES. . .oh, are you okay? What are you doing on the ground? Oops.”

I landed with full impact just above my sacrum so it wasn’t broken. My head hit the ground shortly after and pushed my helmet down on the bridge of my nose. There was deep bruising on my back that lasted about 4 weeks and my face didn’t look too good. Fortunately for me, I had been super focussed on staying calm and centered on her because I was trying to psychically influence her spring-mare behaviour. While that didn’t fully work on her, it worked on me and I wasn’t too traumatized by the fall mentally. Physically, I was a wreck and I had a training ride to sweep for the Bike Rally in a week. Falling off as an adult is a whole other level of ow. Maybe it’s because adults are bigger and stiffer and we ride horses that are a longer way down but I did not pop back up and get back on. I spent the rest of the lesson with a bag of frozen French fries on my back, hoping that I would be okay in a week. I didn’t cry. So there is that.

But my story doesn’t end here. I made it to the training ride after acupuncture, massage and osteopathy fixed me up as much as it could, which was a lot actually. It was only a 50km ride and I felt great. We had a coffee at the end and then it was time to go back to the car, which was just down the hill. So, we all PUT OUR HELMETS ON and got back on our bikes to glide to the parking lot. My friends were well ahead of me and somehow, I got a tire caught a grove in the pavement.  Crash. This time, I landed on my hip, elbow and head. I lay there while the pain shot through my body wondering if anyone would notice. Eventually the taxi drivers asked if they should call 911. I checked the limbs and said no. Can I say again, I was wearing my helmet and that was the difference between bruising and road rash or a trip to the ER.

By this time, I was feeling a bit shaken. Who falls off two things in two weeks? Me.

Three weeks later I was on another horse, the second ride since my fall off Clover, and I miscounted strides to a jump. I went forward early, he jumped a chippy stride later and ducked his head on the other side. Bye bye. . .plunk.

While that fall was slower and didn’t have the height, there was a horrible crunching sound in my cervical spine. I knew I was all messed up real good this time. Three falls in 5 weeks and a whole whack of Bike Rally training to get through. I was an emotional basket case. What was the universe trying to tell me? Why was this happening? Should I stop doing these sports? I even forbade my daughter to say anything to her grandmother about fall off horse number 2 because I didn’t want to hear the warnings she might toss in my direction. “You aren’t as young as you used to be. You should be more careful. Maybe you are working too hard.” Perhaps these are my voices and my worries but regardless, she still doesn’t know, unless she reads this. (Sorry mom, it’s not your fault. I’m using you as a literary tool. You will forgive me.)

Now we are three weeks since fall number 3. I have had 2 Chiropractic adjustments, 2 Osteopathy treatments and 2 acupuncture/massage therapy treatments. I have decent mobility in my neck now (where there was none to the left) and I feel pretty good. I’ve gotten back on a horse three times since and I have felt fine. My instructor put me on my favourite horse so that helped. I have ridden my bike, carefully.

What was the universe trying to tell me? Honestly, I don’t know if it was any more complicated than WEAR A HELMET. I might be dead if I didn’t. I would at least have had a major concussion after the bike fall. I feel like I’ve had my quota of drama and falling off moving things now. I am practicing alertness without anxiety. I’m feeling kind of hard core actually. I have a cool scar on my elbow. I’m not stopping any of the activities because I love them and the experiences I have. . .upright.

A selfie of me and my favourite Dunn, Franny


4 thoughts on “Falling Hard (Guest Post)

  1. Great post… As you know I had a stupid fall while running a week ago and I’m still nursing scrapes and bruises. I think the reminder is definitely to wear a helmet even when you’re only going 200 m (I sometime skip mine when I’m on my vintage bike just doing shopping) and to be gentle with yourself. Glad you are ok

  2. I wrote a comment that disappeared… But a) am so glad you’re okay… And b) so often we don’t wear helmets when we are only going 200 m or so — always helmet. C) I fell hard running a week ago (tripped on uneven pavement while running downhill). I don’t know if it means anything except to remember to notice our fragility and value our fortitude. And look after ourselves when we hurt.

  3. Ouch! Glad you are healing well. My first fall off a horse was at the end of a lesson, cooling down, and my horse decided she was afraid of a tree (or an apple, or something). I hit a fence post with my head on the way down, and broke my helmet in two places; other than having no real recollection of the fall or the next 24 hours, I was fine. Always helmet! My next fall was over a jump and it was awesome. I went down gently with no injury and got back on, feeling far less fearful of falls. My most recent fall was while testing horses. I landed just above the sacrum, but my mistake was to drive back home (from Woodstock to Ottawa) in the summer heat, without benefit of that bag of frozen fries. It has been two years and I still have issues with swelling and muscle tightness despite lots of therapy. I did end up buying a different horse that day and still love riding.


      It’s a weird little spot to hurt yourself and the swelling is very persistent. Glad you bought another horse. I love them so. Silly horses.

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