There's a saying among equestrians that if you haven't fallen off a horse, you probably haven't been riding long enough, and as with most sayings, there's at least a kernel of truth in it.
I started riding at a young age, and I rode pretty seriously all the way through my childhood and teen years, up until my junior year of high school. At that point, I had to make a decision between two things I really wanted: to keep riding and to go to an out of state college. Ultimately, I chose the out of state school, and since my parents couldn't afford to send both me and my horse, a beautiful, somewhat cantankerous bay mare named Ginger, away to college, Ginger had to be sold. In the intervening years between then and now, I have ridden only infrequently.
Naturally, then, it has been some years since I've fallen. Until, that is, earlier this evening. It was my sixth lesson, and for the first time in far too many years, I was cantering. It was, in a word, amazing. For those non-horse people, the canter is a three beat gait that is often confused with a gallop. By this I mean that there are three audible footfalls (da da DAH ... da da DAH ... da da DAH) per stride, and then the moment of suspension, when all four of the horse's legs are off the ground. It is as close to flying as you will ever get without either being aboard an airplane or astride a hippogriff, and to say I have missed it would be a dreadful understatement, but missed it I certainly have.
I can't say I feel the same about falling, although, to be totally honest, I didn't fall a whole lot back in the day. I was younger then, and in better shape. I had a rock solid seat and leg muscles of iron. I wasn't easy to unseat. Unfortunately, I can no longer say that, and during this evening's lesson, that fact was brought home when my mount got a little too strong at the canter, and instead of sitting deeper into my saddle and going with him, I got caught off balance, and landed, rather inelegantly, in the dirt.
I'm fine, and in truth I think my poor instructor was more shaken than I was (to be honest, I was pretty happy to have landed safely on terra firma, however ungracefully I may have landed there - it is always those few seconds before a fall, which seem to stretch out to hours - if you've ever been in a car accident you'll know what I mean - that are worse than the fall itself), and I got up, dusted myself off, and got, as the saying goes, back up on the horse. Because that is what you do. You hope that you don't fall. You work at developing a solid seat so that you are balanced in the saddle at whatever gait you happen to be traveling in. But if you fall, and at some point (though hopefully not often) you will, you get up, and get back on in pretty short order. Because otherwise you may never get back on at all. And that is not an option.