• John Gotts

Getting thrown off the horse, literally...

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

There is an old adage that when you get thrown off the horse you should get back in the saddle, but what about when there is no saddle...

Yesterday I was out for a bareback ride on Ike, who is a wonderful, gentle and kind horse, when he launched into a full gallop, which I wasn't prepared for. I flew off of his left shoulder, turning like a barrel counter-clockwise, and landing on my right buttock and back with my legs flying up under the horse. Ike did his best not to step on me but nailed my left shin with his rear left hoof, making solid contact.

He immediately stopped and waited for me to get up, shake it off and then I walked over and took his reins, led him to a flat spot and after two attempts I jumped back on his back, in serious pain, adrenaline pumping through my veins and in a bit of shock.

We started heading back down the dirt road that loops around the farm and he launched into another full gallop. This time I pulled my legs tight against his sides, leaned down close to his neck with my face to one side, and I rode with him back for a solid mile of a flat-out run for the corrals.

The bruises that are now showing purple and yellow taught me a few lessons. First, I should probably be wearing a riding helmet as that thump to the shin could have cracked my skull open if it has connected with my head instead of my leg, second, when you're riding bareback and your horse makes a sudden move you cannot become spooked and overreact, and that when the horse launches into a trot or a full gallop you should sense it and move with the horse. When I raced snowboards for literally more than one hundred million vertical feet in total distance over twelve years in Sun Valley I learned that when you felt like you were going to fall you should concentrate on recovering rather than accepting your fall. When you are going to fall you should do it in a way that protects you the most.

Falling under the horse could have done real damage and even death, and I am fortunate to be able to take it as a lesson rather than being hospitalized or buried. When I fell from the horse I got right back on, even in severe pain and stunned. I was calm with the horse and told him that it wasn't his fault, which was good as he was also spooked and could have run home without me.

When you fall off the horse you get back on and then you learn from your mistakes and you ride another day.

John Gotts,

John Wright Gotts
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