• Leanne Heffernan

A fall from a great height (of about 10 hands)

My daughter will be 3 in December, and today she had her first fall from her pony.

Her pony's name is Snowman, he's white (of course) and he's somewhere between 9 and 10 hands high. It wasn't a long way to fall, but it was very scary for her and she was lucky not to have been hurt.

Her aunty dropped off a gorgeous little kids western saddle this morning for her to use, and after a clean and a coat of leather oil I put it on the pony and we led her around. Because she's so little and Snowman isn't exactly 'bombproof' my hubby leads him and I walk beside her and hang onto the back of her shirt or jumper so that if she loses her balance or the pony plays up, I can stop her from falling. Well, it didn't work out quite as planned today.

For whatever reason, Snowman suddenly and unexpectedly lunged forward quite violently and then spun around in a circle, and the back of her jumper was ripped straight out of my hand. She was thrown backwards out of the saddle and landed on the pony's rump for a second, then as the pony ran forwards and spun around she slid off the back of him upside-down and landed on the grass. My hubby was sooo close to grabbing her as she fell but he just wasn't quite quick enough. Anyway, aside from a couple of minutes of her screaming and crying we asserted that she was ok, just frightened. At first she said 'I not get on him anymore' as she cried, but I managed to convince her to sit back in the saddle. Once she was on and her little feet were back in the stirrups, she agreed to ride him back down the driveway and after that, the world was well again. She did another 3 or 4 laps of the driveway area and then we unsaddled and went inside for a rest. When we went down the street to buy milk earlier she told our local shopkeeper that 'I fell off of my pony' and she seems to be feeling ok about it. I think it was important for her to get back on (since she wasn't injured!) because if we put the pony away and called it quits and her last memory of horse-riding was falling off and being scared, I doubt she would want to get back on again next time.

I remember falling off a horse at a friend's property years ago when I was about 8 or 9. Another horse came up and bit the horse I was riding on the bum, and my horse shied or bucked or did something to that effect. I fell off, resulting in a broken wrist, although it was a few days before I actually went to get it x-rayed. We were staying at the farm for the weekend and as sore as I was, I still tried to get on the horse again the next day but it was too painful to even pull myself up into the saddle let alone hold the reins and control the horse. It wasn't the only time I've fallen off and I'm sure there will be more spills for me in the future, and for my little girl! I'm sure she will take it better than I will though, I don't bounce very well when I hit the ground these days! We all take a tumble every now and then, that's life. What matters is that you get up, dust yourself off and give it another go.

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