So You've Hit The Dirt, Now What?
Today, we're going to talk about what to do once you hit the dirt.
Step One: Breathe, and lay there for a second. There is zero reason to try and leap back up. If your horse is running off, you can't catch him. He can wait. Your trainer can wait. The ring crew can wait.
Step Two: Take inventory. Can you move everything? Do you have extreme pain anywhere? Can you physically see damage? Report all of this to the people who should now be around you.
Step Two.Five: If you are alone when you fall, use your cell phone to call someone at the barn if possible, or directly call for medical assistance if you need it. Consider keeping a card with the barn's address in your phone carrier or in your phone itself so you don't have to remember or look up details in a panic.
Step Three: Assuming you are generally okay and don't feel that you need to visit the hospital, STILL wait at least 15 minutes before getting back on. Riders have this pressure to immediately get back on after a fall because "the horse will learn" or something like that. To be quite frank, your horse will learn a lot less from you in that ride than he will if you wait. Here's why: first, your anger/emotions will have time to subside, and you won't be bringing that "heat of the moment" feeling back into the saddle with you. Second, adrenaline can mask signs of a serious problem. You don't have to hit your head for a concussion to occur, so sit it out and watch for dizziness, confusion, or sensitivity to light, all of which and more may indicate a concussion. Third, you have to process what just happened. Your brain and your body need time to work through it and determine how you REALLY feel about getting back on. Speaking from experience, nothing is worse than immediately getting back on, then realizing 10 minutes in you are utterly terrified, but pressured to keep riding.
Step Four: Work through what caused the fall with your horse. It may be spookiness, pain, etc. It's important to address it however you can so it doesn't happen again.
I hope this helps you guys know what to do if you ever take a spill. How many times have you fallen off? I'm at 76, although thankfully the frequency has dramatically slowed. Comment below!