WOAH TO GO
The last time I fell off a horse, hurt. I was on a back country airstrip riding with about 20 others, and it had been a long hot day. As it approached lunchtime, everyone’s spirits were flagging and the horses, who had just carried us up a long, quite steep incline, had their heads down and were looking for a rest and some water themselves. I looked around, a little bored, realised everyone else was in the same mood so, in the spirit of community service provider, decided to liven things up a bit.
My plan was to lay over my horse, as if I was an outlaw being dragged back to the jailhouse by the sheriff, and in the process of putting my left leg over the horse, who I hadn’t warned of the move, caught it on the saddle bag which caused me to sharply rap poor old Cochise, said horse, in the bum with the heel of my boot. You can probably imagine the rest, but here’s the picture anyway…
For Cochise to widen both eyes and nostrils simultaneously, lift his head, and start a head-long rush up the hard, slightly stoney airstrip, was for him the work of a moment. In fact, in all the miles I had ridden him, he had never reacted so quickly. In one leap forward he dislodged me, and I found myself riding on his rear with my hands on one of his reins, facing to the side with both my legs on his left side. I know it happened very quickly, but I found myself marvelling at the detail in my companion’s saddle bag on the horse next to me, and seeing the growing look of horror on her face as I sped past. The feeling of danger and doom started to seep through me as the horse made successive lunges through the rest of the startled riders, starting from my toes and ending up with me shouting to myself in my head, ‘This isn’t going to be good!’
I knew I had to get back into the saddle, so I started hauling my way forward. Cochise, very alert to any subtle change I made, was ready with more leaps forward and a couple of king size bucks thrown in for good measure. This was what undid both my hold and resolve to make it back to the saddle, and when he threw a sideways shimmy into the 3rd buck, I lost all contact with my wide awake, nostril flaring warhorse. I began the forward, inglorious dismount, which is what I prefer to call it. Parts of my life drifted by as it seemed to be taking an age. I looked at the short, dry grass I was about to meet and thought, this is going to hurt. I put an arm forward to protect my head, and slid along the ground for about 10 meters before I came to a stop. I lay still for a moment and listened to my heart thumping in my ears. There was no pain surge, so I quickly got up and bowed to everyone as if I had planned the whole thing. One or two people were fighting to control their horses who thought they had to run, but most people were laughing their heads off. It was then that I realised I couldn’t breathe. I was acutely winded. I staggered over to my horse, who had stopped the moment I left his company and was eating grass as if nothing had happened, grabbed my puffer and gained my breath back.
What to do now? I simply picked up the reins and got back on my horse, and rode off a much wiser rider.
When kids learn they often fail. The kids that can pick themselves up and ‘get back on the horse’ are the ones who develop problem solving skills. Can your child problem solve? Are they scared of failing or do the see it as part of learning? We can help them develop this necessary learning skill.