Getting Back in the Saddle After a Fall

Getting Back in the Saddle After a Fall

Getting Back in the Saddle After a Fall

As riders, we all know that falls are part and parcel of the whole riding experience. However, getting back in the saddle after a fall can be a sticking point for many riders. This can be due to fear, a lack of understanding, or just the realization that falls can and will happen!

In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast, I will lay out short actionable steps you can take to get you back in the saddle after a fall from your horse.

Why Did You Fall?

Understanding why you fell in the first place is usually pretty important. And it can also be a moment of truth for many riders. Especially those who want to lay the blame squarely at their horse’s hooves! Now, let’s be honest, sometimes it can be something that the horse did that caused the fall, such as tripping or losing balance.  However, even then, there are usually ways that you can improve your chances of staying on.

Identifying the reasons for the fall, both internal and external, will allow you to begin to make changes so that the chances of you coming off again are less.

If the reason was more external, such as a bag blowing in the wind and spooking your horse, you can begin to make changes to lessen the chances of this happening again.  Not riding on a windy day.  Cleaning up around the arena or riding space.  Riding a different route, etc.

And you can work on increasing your own balance, posture, position, suppleness, independent aids, and response when in the saddle as well. All of these will help increase your chances of staying on next time.

Groundwork is Your Friend

Before getting back in the saddle after a fall it can be helpful to spend time working with your horse on the ground. Especially if you are experiencing anxiety about mounting up again.  Groom, lead, and engage in groundwork exercises to rebuild trust and establish a strong connection with your horse.

Following a groundwork plan will allow you to increase your confidence in your own abilities and in your horse as well.

And, if done correctly, will set the two of you up for better communication and aids when you do eventually mount up again.  Make sure you check out my Groundwork for Riding Program where we go deep into all of this. From here, when you are ready to get back in the saddle again, there are a few key considerations and steps.

Select the Right Horse

Choose a calm, well-trained, and reliable horse for your first few rides back. A horse with a willing and gentle temperament; and a history of being safe for riders! This can play such an important role in boosting your confidence.  Now, I get that you might be limited here by location, however, if necessary, maybe research a riding school that can really give you this type of horse for your first time back in the saddle.

I also think having a ‘helper’ on the ground can lower your stress levels all around in this situation.  When you have someone who is considerate, knowledgeable, and trustworthy, it can boost your confidence a little more.

This helper doesn’t necessarily have to be a ‘horsey person’.  Just someone who is willing to be there for you, keep the conversation flowing and borrow you a little of their more relaxed feelings when you need them.

Short & Sweet

For your first time back in the saddle, keep it short and sweet.  3 to 5 minutes is perfect.  Enough time for you to get on, feel the discomfort, and then also feel it dissipate a little.  This is important when we think of changing your current ‘go to’ feeling of anxiety or fear.

From there, begin making each ride a little longer until you have built up to 15 or 20 minutes riding time.  This is long enough to begin ‘working’, but not so long that you end up exhausted (mentally or physically). 

I also think that it is really important to be consistent with your riding.  The more of a rhythm you can create with how often you are getting back into the saddle, the more positive momentum you will create.  Even if it’s just a couple of minutes at a time.

Get Back to Basics

Once you can begin to actually mount up without feeling paralyzed by anxiety, I would strongly suggest getting back to the basics of your riding. Focus on really developing and correcting your seat, position, and posture.  From here, your aids and timing your aids will be important to creating better communication with your horse.

A big part of building confidence as a rider is to believe in your own abilities when it comes to your riding.  How well you can effectively communicate with your horse is a big part of this.

By getting all of your basics working for you (so being correct) and then putting them onto autopilot, you will begin to feel more and more at ease in the saddle.  And soon, getting back on after a fall will no longer be a worry for you. Because, I think this is important to keep in mind, you will most likely fall again in the future.  It really is just part and parcel of riding horses.

Returning to Riding

Remember that rebuilding confidence after a fall takes time and patience. And every rider’s journey is unique.  It’s important to listen to your body and emotions.  Don’t simply disregard your fears as being ‘stupid or silly’.  You feel that way for a reason.

Understanding why you feel that way will have a far longer-lasting effect on your overall success with getting back into the saddle.  

And, if at any point you feel overwhelmed or unsafe, it’s okay to take a step back.  Find the place you feel comfortable and begin again from there.  I realize that telling you to get ‘professional help’ in the form of a trainer or instructor is also correct.  However, I also know that so many riders simply cannot do this due to location or time challenges.

You can get back in the saddle after a fall.  It is definitely do-able.  The question is, are you willing to invest the time and feel all of the uncomfortable feelings to make it a reality for you?  I hope so! 

If you would like some step-by-step help and training with this, make sure you check out Returning to Riding.

Happy Riding


Back in the Saddle After a Fall

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