ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: Falling Off - Learning to Let Go

Re: Falling Off - Learning to Let Go

K S Swigart (katswig@deltanet.com)
Wed, 5 Feb 1997 11:42:41 -0800 (PST)

Many of the problems associated with the possiblity of pulling a horse
down on top of you if you hold on when you fall off can be reduced by
riding with split reins. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that
cowboys rode in split reins...they spent so much time riding out of doors
where the LAST thing you want is for your horse to run off without you.
(And they were frequently riding on horses that were only half-broke,
many of which were formerly wild horses).

Yes, I have horses that I have taught not to run off (i.e. to ground tie,
which is something else that endurance riders would do well to
cultivate), but I also ride many very green horses (who have not yet
learned that trick). I would rather get trampled occasionally (yes it
has happened) than lose my horse....or even worse, have my loose horse be
responsible for an accident or injury to somebody else.

As an example, I was out riding with a friend of mine, and Sonny the witch
(yes, that alpha mare) decided that it was a good time to dive off a
cliff. In my infinite wisdom, I decided it was best for me and her to
part company and let her do that all by herself. I bailed off, landed on
my ass in a bush, she went over the edge. She didn't get very far over
the edge before she changed her mind about just how good of an idea that
was, turned around, scrambled back up (over the top of me) and took off
down the trail for home. My friend's horse, one of Sonny's pasture mates
(acutally, another one of my horses that she was riding), decided to take
off after her. I told her to turn his head and circle him, forturnately
she fell off and both horses ran for home together.

I say "fortunately" she fell off, because if she had stayed on him, while
he galloped after my loose horse, she would have fallen off at high speed
in the rocks and it wouuld have been a REAL wreck (as it was, she landed
on her ass in the sand). I should never have let go of my horse. My
horse is my responsiblity, and in a group or open situation, it is my
responsiblity to keep that horse restrained....even if to do so is to
endanger myself.

Or there was the time I was at Showpark watching a show jumping
competition. The horse stopped, the rider went over the front, let go of
the horse, and the horse was loose. This was on thier grass field so it
was not enclosed. The horse ran up into the crowd and around the show
grounds. In the next ring over they were running the pony club aspect of
the show; a young girl's horse was spooked by the loose horse, bucked and
threw her into the jump.

The stories go on.

I cannot count the number of times I have had to retrieve other people's
loose horses at endurance rides or group trail rides.

If you let go of the reins, it is safer for you. If you hold onto the
reins, it is safer for everybody else (including, alot of the time, the
horse). Letting go of the riens (i.e. turning a horse loose) is
something that should be confined to horses that are alone in an enclosed
setting. Loose horses in a group situation are a menace. I stand by my
statement that endurance riders should learn to hold onto their horses.

Just my experience.

Orange County, Calif.

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