On Wednesday evenings, I teach horseback riding lessons. I work all day, then go straight to the barn from school to teach my first lesson of the evening at 4:30. I’ve been doing this for — honestly, I’m not sure! I’m thinking close to ten years now. Horses have been my passion since I was a little girl. I’ve owned horses, competed, and still help my parents with the two horses they have at their house. I don’t have a horse anymore, so teaching riding is my way of getting “my fix”.
Six or eight weeks ago, one of my students, a girl of 14, fell off the horse she was riding. If you ride horses, this WILL happen. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I have fallen off. That doesn’t mean you’re a poor rider, it’s just something that can happen when you ride a 1,000+ pound animal with a flight instinct and a brain the size of your fist. When Ashley fell off, to me it seemed as though she didn’t fall too hard, and she did not hit her head (all riders wear a helmet). After making her stay sitting in the dirt for a bit to evaluate herself, I had her get back on the horse. She was more than willing, and she wasn’t hurt. Or so I thought.
As it turned out, Ashley had a concussion. Apparently, just the force and shock of the fall caused it. Four weeks – no riding – doctor’s orders. Week five arrives, and she cancels her lesson. She felt she needed one more week, even though she had been cleared by the doctor. The following week arrives, and she’s ready to ride. No jumping, though. No problem, and she did great.
Fast forward to tonight. It’s now been four weeks since Ashley’s been cleared, and she comes into the arena to check in with me before her lesson. “Am I going to jump today?” “I don’t know Ashley, are you going to jump today?” I ask. She gets a shy smile on her face and says, “I think so.”
Well, Ashley did jump today. The horse gave her a little trouble, but she rode through it, and helped the horse overcome the issue. Afterward, I asked her how it felt to jump again. She got a huge smile on her face. “Really good!” she said. “Were you nervous?” I questioned. She stated she was a little nervous to jump at first – that was how she fell – the horse shied away from a jump and dumped her over the side. I don’t blame her one bit for being nervous. In the end though, she said she had felt good. I’m so proud of her for working through the nervousness and “getting back on the horse”.