Friday, February 28, 2014


Something I have been dreading since I first started riding -
My First Fall
I think its a fear everyone has, its a fear of; the unknown, the breakable nature of your body, the realisation of your frailty and fragility. The horror stories of horrific falls and terrible injuries added both weight and gravity to my instilled fears. As my Instructor Vincent Dempsey from Blackberry Stables Maynooth has told me on many an occasion my survival instincts are VERY STRONG!! These comments were amongst many attempts at him trying to get me to fall off. Him all the while knowing and saying that, once the first one is over its fine after that. While I thought VERY differently - Yea you can say that your not the one falling off - this fear (which is perfectly natural may I add) is what keeps me and my precious posterior firmly glued to the saddle.

Well IT happened!!
I had gotten brave with my riding Star when a few of the others at Blackberry Stables yard asked would you like to try your skills at some cross country. [for those of you readers who may be unaware of what cross country is - it is where you jump around a course of fences like showjumping. However all the jumps are across countryside and are either 'natural' or man-made. Thus meaning they are solid, unbreakable and immovable. Hence if you hit them they will not move, however you or your horse will!! Cross Country is unlike the forgiving showjumping fence where the poles will fall if you hit them]. The encouragement offered by the others was "You don't have to jump everything, you can walk around the ones you don't want to jump" So being quietly courageous I said sure lets do it, myself and Star are up for it.

So five of us headed off. Properly petrified I precariously came up against my first ditch [a ditch where I come from is very different, its a hedge. So I feel honour bound to explain what a ditch is - it is a drain used for drainage of a field or paddock. Or basically a BIG whole in the ground]. On our approach to the ditch Star picked up on my trepidation thus resulting in him stopping dead just before it. My adrenaline fueled jelly legs kicked us on and with shouting encouragement from my Blackberry Stables compadres we got over it. Only problem being we'd to go back over it.

So no Fall yet I hear you say, oh no wait for it. Star and I jumped the ditch and a few other fences and with every fence my confidence grew and thus Stars in me too!!. So the next challenge was to jump up two big steps and down a bank and over a small ditch, NOTHING like the size I had jumped earlier. Executed perfectly until we came to the ditch at the end I forgot to do one of the most IMPORTANT things you need to do in order to jump any fence - 'Give with my hands' [meaning put my arms forward and thus the reins as well, as they are in my hand. In order to give the horse enough room to plunge their neck forward to get over the jump]. I forgot due to the amount of stuff going on in my brain, keep your knee on the saddle, balance, sit forward for the steps but sit back for the bank, keep your heel down, get your bum out of the saddle and so on ............. So forgetting to give with my hands ment Star pulled me clean off. I came off right into a BIG puddle, DRENCHED down one side I jumped up smiling and delighted shouting "WEHOO!!! my first fall and i'm ok, i'm ok WEHOO!!!!" It was a real relief to get it over and done with. IT was also lovely to realise that all my bones where still in tact and that I still had all my faculties.

The Point of No Return

Upon reflection of my fall I realised that there was a sequence to falling and all of which happen within a split second:

  1. The realisation that oh oh I might be coming off, mmm maybe I can right myself 
  2. This is quickly followed by the Point of NO Return, this is the point where you know I'm Coming Off
  3. Ok I'm coming off so how can I best fall? Tuck and roll Clodagh tuck and roll out of it
  4. Then run like hell out of the way in case someones coming behind you
  5. You hit the ground and roll 
  6. Get up ASAP and run out of the jumping line
And I have to say that when I fell Star stop turned around to see if I was ok and then once he saw I was up and walking he bolted off in canter.

The After-Shot

Abstract to say the least!!! So if you are confused as to what this picture is; let me help you figure it out. The white ball in the middle of the photo is my pearl earring that is still in my ear!!!

The full photo of the close up above
This is a full photo of the damage but what I love about it is that I am still smiling :) 

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