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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Fear of falling and family matters

Dear Franklin,

I am 53 yrs. old and have been taking lessons and riding for 8 years. I consider myself to be a decent intermediate rider and I usually am quite calm with horses. My problem is this; 4 yrs. ago I fell off of a "green" schooling horse and fractured a vertebra. After about 6 months I began riding again (changed barns to a safer one) and have been more "choosy" with the horses that I'll ride. Then, 3 weeks ago, I was taking a lesson on a horse that I was quite comfortable with, and the horse spooked from ice melting and crashing down from the roof, I fell off and fractured my shoulder, requiring surgery. I was, at the time, looking for my own horse, so that I could build trust with it and feel even safer. Now, my husband won't even hear of me ever riding again. I can understand why he feels that way, but I am so incredibly sad that I may have to give up something that I love so much. Is it possible to find a horse that is totally bombproof and safe? Could it be that I am being selfish to continue doing something that worries my family? I just don't know what to do. I appreciate so much any insights and information that you can give me.

Cindy, a horse lover

Hello Cindy,

You are not alone. I have had contact with many people who, after riding for many years, have had a few serious falls off of horses that were not particularly 'spooky' and now their spouses and/or families don't want them to ride any more. These people are devistated. As they get older, their lives seem to get more sedintary and they withdraw into being overly self-protecting (causing more physical problems then if they had been able to keep riding).

Truth is, there is always a risk of injury when being with or riding any horse, no matter if bomb-proofed or not. The calmest most easy going horse in the world can spook from something. This is a fact of horses. As we age we don't heal as fast and whatever injuries we suffer seem to be more severe and life altering. This is a fact of humans. I am going to be 61 years old in June. About 2 months ago I was riding a green broke Arabian who I had started and was a pretty good little horse. As I asked him to lope off in the round pen, he either dropped his head to crow hop (little bucks) or stumbled. I am still not certain which. Either way, I pulled up hard on his right rein to bring his head and 'front end' back up. He then fell to the left and right on my left leg. I could have broken the leg easy enough, but I didn't. However, I did fairly serious injury to my left ankle and knee which will take months to get right. I am a professional and have had few injuries in a long career of training horses (some quite wild and others quite young). This injury has caught my attention. Anyway, 'stuff' happens and that is simply a fact of life. While riding horses does increase our risk factor, simply aging increases the risk factor for us all as well. A fall down a short flight of stairs, tripping on the sidewalk, all sorts of hazzards are out there. I guess we just need to make choices for ourselves if the love for what we want to do, is worth the actual risk. As far as family and spouces are concerned, I sympathize with their desires and concerns about our well-being. My sister asks if I want a new career (at my age I don't think so). Horses are my life and I know I shall be 'in the ground' before I would give it up totally. The question is; "are you are still willing to accept the risk?" Ride older, very mature horses. Do not ride anything under 7 years of age. 10 and up might be safer. But even a horse like that can spook from something. Never ride alone. Good Luck and be careful.

Sincerely, Franklin

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