I'm not positive when I fell off a horse for the first time. I have had several falls, some painful, and one that I wish had been caught on video- and of course, no one saw it. Thinking my way back through the horse years of my life, my best guess for my first fall happened on a horse that wasn't mine. The particular fall I'm thinking of (which was followed quickly by fall number two) was completely my fault.
During the sad, horseless years of my life from approximately ages 10-12, I got a small dose of equine every time my family went up to our deer hunting cabin. About a quarter of a mile down the road from our cabin was a farm where we knew the farmers. They had four horses at the time, and every chance I got I would take the four wheeler down the road to visit. I bought brushes for the sole purpose of giving them a good curry while I was there, and with the dream that I would someday be able to use the brushes on my own horse.
The horses were amiable enough, and seemed to enjoy my visits. Chantilly was half Percheron, half Quarter horse, and all solid bulk. He was built like a small tank, with a neck bigger than my 11 year old torso and a back that was as soft to sit on as a sofa. He was a mixture of fat and muscle, but kept a level disposition and a pretty face. Chantilly was bay, with a white star and snip and large, kind eyes. He often let me scramble onto his back, using a nearby rock or stump to give me enough height to make it over his rounded sides and onto his cushy back.
He accepted me without complaint, letting me lead him by his long mane into a position where I could get on. You see, I never had anything on him, no halter, saddle, bridle- anything. Yet I would sit happily on his broad back in the middle of his pasture, content to let him graze and meander so long as I had a horse under me. The other three horses were there, too, and I would sometimes sit on Holly, a half Percheron, one quarter Quarter horse, one quarter Appaloosa mare. She was flea bitten gray with some dappling, a slightly less wide, little bit taller version of Chantilly.
On the day of my first fall, I had discovered a four foot high embankment in the pasture the horses were in. I was gleeful, knowing that it would be much easier to mount one of the horses from this embankment than it ever was trying to line them up with a measly stump. Chantilly allowed himself to be coaxed over to it, and stood about a foot away from it, grazing mildly.
I was worried about that one foot gap, but it was difficult to push Chantilly closer without having him move once I was on top of the bank. I patted his back a few times, trying to make sure he knew that I was about to launch myself at him so he would be prepared. He didn't appear to object. I took a deep breath, and made my leap.
Let's just say I misjudged the distance. I was used to having to jump as hard as I could, and then pull myself up, barely making it onto whomever was lucky enough to have me that day. The embankment was much easier... too easy, in fact. I threw myself straight over and landed on the ground on the other side of Chantilly. I narrowly avoided face planting in mud by catching myself on my forearms. Chantilly tossed his head and snorted in surprise, shifting his feet a little. He did not, however, run me over. I let out my breath and climbed back to my feet, giving Chantilly a few pats for not spooking at my tumble.
I reassessed the situation, chuckling a little at myself. Chantilly was still obligingly standing next to the embankment, I was uninjured, and I still wanted my ride.
Up the embankment I went again, and again I rubbed my hands on his back. This time, his ears went back when I touched him, but I figured he would be okay once I was on him.
I judged the distance correctly and made it onto his back, only to find myself on the ground directly behind him. It happened so fast, I laid on the ground for several seconds trying to figure out how I had gotten there. Chantilly had reared up while I was getting on him, and I had rolled/slid off the back. After I realized where I was, I quickly got myself away from his hind feet.
I was still, somehow, unhurt. He easily could have double barrel kicked me as I fell right behind his massive hind end, but instead he was trying to convey (relatively nicely, given the circumstances) that I was no longer welcome to sit on him that day.
Being a horse crazy (emphasis on crazy here) kid, I tried to maneuver him into place at the embankment again but he wasn't having it. He deliberately walked into the middle of the pasture where there were no stepping stones of any kind, and gave me disgusted looks when I half heartedly tried to move him again.
I finally accepted that a ride wasn't in the cards, and was grateful I was okay. Having to explain what I was doing with the horses to my parents wouldn't have been a fun conversation- as far as they knew at the time, I was going down the road to pet the horses, not ride them loose in their pasture.
Looking back as an adult, I realize how very lucky I was that I never got hurt with those horses. They weren't handled by their owners very often, I never had a helmet or any sort of tack, they were loose with other horses in a pasture... yikes. If I saw someone doing that now, I would definitely step in to try to save them. Then, I was so starved for horses the risks seemed worth it, and I was young enough to do it anyway.
So concludes the answer to our next Equestrian Challenge Question- my first fall.