Four Lessons from Falling off a Horse

I took quite the “unplanned dismount” from a young thoroughbred I was riding Thursday afternoon.

Meet Simon:

He’s had a few months off due to injury and Thursday was one his first schooling rides since his recovery.  We were taking it light and easy, working on balance at the canter when he spooked, bucked, and bucked again. It was enough to jar me from the saddle.  I remember flying up into the air toward the arena fence and then I was on the ground.

I felt two things: the wind knocked out of my chest and my lower right leg throbbing.

Eventually I got up, wiped the dirt from my lip gloss, and hobbled over to my instructor who was holding the reins.  I got back in the saddle and walked Simon for a few steps, but he spooked again so we decided the best thing to do was to dismount for the day.

Long story short, a trip to urgent care that evening showed no fractures, but severe intramuscular contusion (bruising) to my calf from just below the knee to an inch or so above my ankle. I was given crutches and the standby R.I.C.E treatment (and a little neck pad thingie for sore muscles).

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So I took a few days to rest and elevate – my leg and spirits.  And let me just say, that a few days on your butt offers a whole lot of introspection time.

I pontificated the lessons to be found in falling off a horse…including the most obvious one: when you fall off, get back in the saddle.  But I knew that couldn’t be the only one, so on I pondered…

and here’s what came:

Life Lessons from Falling Off Your Horse

1. Get back in the saddle (yes); however, do it in your own time. Getting back on Simon right away wasn’t the smartest or safest thing to do. The adrenaline pumping through me made it unclear as to how badly my leg was hurt. If I fell off a second time, the damage could have been far worse.

Life lesson: When you fall and are hurt, you need time to heal and learn.  You’ll get back in the saddle soon enough (cowgirls always do), but from time to time, you might take a hit that asks for your compassion and care. Be wise and give it to yourself.  You’ll heal faster.

2. Look for the obvious signs. When you fall off a horse, you’ve got a one way ticket south. And it comes at you pretty fast. When I thought about this, it became a clear metaphor: I could use more grounding in my life.  Over the last couple weeks, I’ve spread myself thin.  I haven’t been connected to my inner stillness, my sense of groundedness. Falling from Simon and smacking into the ground was a good wake up call to be more grounded.

Life lesson: Whether you take a fall physically or emotionally, see what your higher self may be asking from you. Could you use more grounding? More stillness? More balance? Ask the questions and be open to whatever appears.

3. Falling off a horse is a pretty humbling experience. One moment you’re up on your high horse and the next you’re eating dirt. From the perspective of the ground, there’s a whole lot more looking up involved.  So I asked myself, is it time for a new perspective?  One that involves more of the heavens and mysteries above? I got a resounding, YEP.

Life lesson:  There’s always more than one way to see life.  A crash, accident, or fall gives you a pretty  glaring opportunity to reconsider and shift your perspective.

4. Finally, be grateful.  The whole ordeal: the fall, the pain, the hobbling around on crutches, the frustration of being “inactive” for a few days, the lessons learned — all of it — made me grateful.  Grateful that my injuries weren’t more serious; grateful that I have the chance to fall off a horse because that means I must be riding one in the first place; grateful to have loving care at home; grateful for two silly dogs that haven’t left my side…and so much more.

Life lesson: I’m convinced that there is a gift to be found in everything – every situation, circumstance, and experience. Find it and give thanks.

Happy, Safe, and Heartful Trails to You,
Cowgirl G

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