lesson notes

What do you bring when you fall off?

It happens to the best of us. You’re approaching a jump – riding a fresh horse – asking for a little too much spice in an upward transition, and then boom, you’re on the ground.

If you’re riding by yourself, you dust yourself off and get back on. (Hopefully, anyway.)

If you’re in a lesson, what happens next? Once you’re deemed to be ok, of course.

Does your lesson barn or trainer have an imposed penalty for falling off?

When I took lessons in France, if you fell off, the rule was that you had to bring a chocolate cake to the next lesson.

These were group lessons, basically cattle calls, with 8-10 people per lesson, riding in a circle. I’ve never been in a lesson format like it since. I maintain today that the French system of riding is founded on not dying. The people who make it out are damn good riders.

We had chocolate cake every week. If no one had fallen off at the 45 minute mark, we dropped stirrups. Then we sat the trot. Then we worked on canter transitions. If all else failed, out came the crossrail. Keep in mind, 8-10 people, riding in a big circle in a situation that sometimes felt an awful lot like a warmup ring from hell. Sometimes we were only riding in half of an indoor arena – a very big indoor, to be sure, way oversized, with second story bleachers for watching horseball. But still, now we’re talking 16-20 horses, in two big circles at either end. Yeah.

So: cake every week. One week it was me. Some weeks we had multiple cakes.

I’ve heard other variations on this. A bottle of wine, for the adults. What brought this to mind was a blogger recently mentioning that she had to bring doughnuts to her next lesson for falling off.

I don’t know what the current barn’s policy is, as I haven’t fallen off in a lesson (thankfully).

Do you have to bring anything to your trainer or the barn when you fall off in a lesson?

7 thoughts on “What do you bring when you fall off?

  1. I've never been at a barn where you bring something when you fall off! This is probably because I've never had a barn where I took lessons. (As a kid, my horses lived at my house and my instructors usually came to me.) I wish we'd had a fun thing like that in Pony Club for mounted meetings!

    The trainer at the barn where I board has joked with kids about bringing cupcakes when they fall, but no one takes it seriously. I think maybe it's time to get harsh on those kiddos!

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  2. donuts!!!! this is the first time i've been at a barn with this rule – but having watched a couple kids get dumped, start crying, and then wipe their tears away while giggling about donuts next week, i can see the merit.

    and yes – they do actually bring them in! and when someone walks into the tack room and see the donuts, first words are 'oooh who fell off!!?!' lol

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  3. At the track, it's a case of beer, usually something cheap and watery like Keystone or Hamm's (we're classy like that). I'd prefer wine, but I don't think anyone does that at the dressage barn.

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  4. I've never had to bring anything but I think it's a fun idea! Currently I ride on my own so if I fall off it's super secret 😉 Sometimes if I'm sad enough about it my husband will take me for dinner, although I'd be happy with cake or donuts lol

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