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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Healing from a fall, overcoming fear


I wrote to you before about an Arabian who was 12 years old and broken harshly. I will tell you, I just watched him being ridden in an indoor by a 14 year old girl and he floated. Brought his head down and was calm, I was so proud I cried. He was treated so cruelly that he throw his head up shallow his back and bolt, sometimes buck. They threw him in a paddock for 10 years and labled him stupid. We have been been working with him myself included (an advanced beginner rider who did not care for working with spooky horses) for around the last 9 months. He is a real love and very affectionate but he is always aware of his surroundings. He is now being ridden at the trot and walk by himself without a line and is doing beautifully.

I have such a bond with him and a real love relationship but I don't think I will ever be able to ride him. Because of my status of a rider I would not be able to handle a situation if it arose. It makes me sad sometimes but he has taught me so much just by me wanting to help him I have read articles and let go of my own insecurities that it all makes it worth while. I have learned that real bond and understanding that is a rare gift.

On a different note. The reason I was writing, I recently took a bad fall from a literally bomb proof Appaloosa. How embarrassing. I am thirty five need I say more? I don't take falls so well. He is 20 years old and pretty predictable, I have been riding him for the past year and have gotten pretty sure of him and myself, maybe too sure. This is my second fall. I also got tossed from a Nokota. (a very rare breed of wild horse) He spun. I have been looking up articles on helping me get past this. I was riding outside in a sand ring trying to improve my seat by riding with a bareback pad (which you can do with him, he is built like a tank) very smart and usually very sure footed. He got distracted by my daughter coming out from the trees and tripped and when he tried to regain his footing he catipolted me right off the back. I am still trying to figure out how I landed on my butt.

Needless to say I layed on the frozen ground for an hour while waiting for an ambulance not able to move the pain was unbearable, had to be put on a straight board and carted out by the Fire Squad all the while screaming with spasms in my hip. Xrays later and blood in my urine, I am left with bruised muscles and a slightly bruised kidney. I am recovering, everyday is getting a little better with different muscles hurting but I am really worried about my mental state. The place I go to, I help an older woman who is a renound dressage trainer who is wonderful and I think may help me get back but I am still reluctant. Do you have any advice for me? After coming off for the second time I am wondering in this split second of a spook or a twist or turn is there anything you can do to keep your seat or I am just kidding myself by thinking I can keep riding? I feel like maybe its something I may or may not be doing to stay on. Are there just some situations where you cannot stay on no matter what? I am really frustrated, can you tell?


Hi Sue,

You are definately not alone. I have received many questions from individuals such as yourself, trying to find the courage to keep on riding after a traumatic fall. It is not an easy situation to rectify. Fear of survival is a very basic and appropriate response to a dangerous situation. H

ere is what I generally tell folks dealing with similar situations; fear is replaced through knowledge, and skill practiced over time. Also, there are never any guarantees as to the elimination of the risks of riding or even being around horses. It just goes with the territory. Even just being next to a horse on the ground poses a risk of the horse spooking and jumping into you. It is just something you need to be willing to accept and be OK with. Over time you may come to more peace around the inherent risks. The more lessons and the more time on the ground you can put in with horses the better it will get. Do not take un-neccessary risks. Think a bit about things before you do them. Prepare as much as possible. Ride with a saddle only. Ride only very well trained and not green horses. Take a training clinic or audit one. This will help you to understand a horse more. remember, knowledge dispells fear as does practicing a skill over time. Try finding someone to show you centered/balanced riding. It was something started by a woman named Sally Swift. It is a method of teaching that focuses on balance. When you are balanced and centered on a horse, you are much less likely to fall.

Good luck and be careful. I would appreciate being kept up to date about your progress. I care and am here to help whenever I can.

Sincerely, Franklin

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