You know that writing Kai of Wild Horses is living vicariously, because he’s a natural rider and I’m not. You also know that I’ve been doing various martial arts longer than some of you have been alive. Today, I got to combine the two: Finally, after 4 years of lessons, I FELL OFF A HORSE!
I’ve been terrified of falling ever since I started learning to keep my heels down and sit up straight. Yet I’ve known how to do all kinds of crazy flying rolls and falls since I was a teenager. The fear? Well… I think it had to do with the height. I don’t do heights well. Yet today I fell and the whole business of being unhorses is demystified. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I figured it would be.
Gracie is a fairly nice, somewhat skittish mare and I’ve never ridden her before. We were riding indoors, and I was trotting in a two-point position (like for jumping, standing in the stirrups, my hands on her neck), when a big, metallic clang shook the arena door right next to us. Gracie levitated and somehow ended up four feet to my right. I stayed where I was. No longer supported by her back and neck, and traveling forward, I did a decent superman impersonation.
The fall was so fast, yet everything slowed down. “I’m falling.” There was no panic as I felt my body relax and execute a perfect breakfall, as though the horse had been my honorable opponent and it was her business to throw me like that. On my side, arm extended, head off the ground, legs in a position that looks a bit like a numeral “4”.
I got back on and had Gracie walk around for a bit, just to feel my parts settle. Nothing ached. No breaks, no concussions. (Not this time, anyway.) The next two times a gust of wind rattled the metal door of the arena and Gracie did her teleportation trick, I stayed on. This just goes to show that in the study of martial arts, learning how to fall is possibly one of the most useful life skills around.