For the Daily Prompt.
I’ve often said that I’ve fallen enough times to be able to ride a little, but I’ve also fallen enough times to be pretty good at falling. An ignominious talent, I know, but everyone’s gotta be good at something, right? So here follows ten methods to fall with the most pain, precision and embarrassment, and the advantages and disadvantage of each. These methods have been tried and thoroughly tested by yours truly for your unsafety and dissatisfaction.
1. Be invited to ride a newly-backed Friesian stallion. Leap onto the aforementioned stallion with great gusto and discover that he is about as forward-going as a geriatric donkey. Succeed, by supreme effort, in kicking him into a trot. Be so shocked at the very idea of forward motion, and the giant exploding movement that Friesians have, that you start to slide down the horse’s side. Cling on determinedly, spider-like against the side of the horse with your short legs as far around his belly as they will go, for several strides before belly-flopping to the ground. Bonus points for having an audience of five or six people and several dogs, and a shout-out to the owner of the stallion, who is actually a quite amazing horse and, I’m betting, a cool ride once he had some training: I’m looking at you, Faeriewood Freisians.
2. Mount a pony who has only ever been ridden three or four times. The saddle doesn’t fit, so you decide to ride bareback. The pony refuses to go forward. Your instructor stands behind her to discipline her with a whip when she reverses. She does so, he gives her a flick on the bum, she leaps into the air and you remain effortlessly seated. Upon coming to rest, the pony waits a split second for you to relax before taking one slow step forward. You pitch over her shoulder and land in a heap. Bonus points if the pony runs away with her tail in the air, highly impressed with herself; extra bonus points if you land almost on your instructor’s feet and if said instructor is a straightforward type and comments, “Well, that was stupid.”
3. Take your favourite horse in the whole entire world for an outride. She is your favourite horse in the whole entire world, so she will never ever throw you off. Hence, you decide to do the bareback thing again, being a slow learner. Gallop off happily until you reach the southern end of the farm, when suddenly a pair of white rhinoceros stampede out of the bushes. Your poor horse nearly jumps out of her skin and the next thing you know, you are minus one horse and plus a few bruises. Bonus points if you land on your feet and stand there holding the reins and staring stupidly at the rhino, which are making off at their best pace, terrified.
4. Whilst riding around with your friend, spot a wayward donkey chewing the grooming kit. Kick your horse into a gallop to stop the donkey from destroying all your friend’s stuff. Don’t realise that the ground is wet and corner a little too sharply. Your horse slips and lands on its knees and you do a slow slide over its ears and into the mud. Bonus points if your friend is slightly paranoid and almost falls off herself in shock. I didn’t try this one personally; all the credit belongs to the Cowboy Dude who was, thankfully, none the worse for his little crash, but possibly the worse for the embarrassment I have just caused him. Another shout-out: Do yourself a favour and click the link to his blog. This guy writes action-adventure flash fiction like nobody else. It’s powerful, terrifying, and touching.
5. Ride a beautiful, smart, slightly absentminded two-year-old horse in front of his owner, his owner’s family, the yard owner, your instructor and some other horse owners. Feel proud of the progress you’ve made with this horse. Ask him to canter whilst going round a corner, forgetting to get his attention first. The horse obliges but his legs go in different directions, cross, and trip him up. Horse and rider crash to the ground and slide several metres in a cloud of dust, dismay and concerned cries from your audience. Bonus points if the horse’s owner comments that they should install a camera to film all your rides as you would make some very interesting action shots, and also if your instructor is more concerned about the poor horse – who has only a few superficial scrapes – than he is about you.
6. Aged nine years old, be so small and short that you can’t pull your pony’s girth up properly. Ignore this fact and go riding with your girth so loose that you can see daylight between it and the pony. The pony spooks at a duiker, whirls around and charges off; the saddle shoots down her side and sends you flying while the pony heads for the horizon with the saddle under her belly. Bonus points if you are trying to show your friend from one of those smart riding schools in the city how brave you are. This one is courtesy of Rain.
7. Ride your beautiful jumping horse towards a manageable jump. Commend yourself on how nicely your horse is approaching the obstacle. Forget to actually ask the horse to jump. The horse brakes and you sail gracefully over its head and into the jump, completely dismantling it. Bonus points if your instructor bursts out laughing.
8. Hold your newly-backed pony next to your instructor’s car while he gets a saddle out of the boot and tries it on. It seems to fit, so he tells you to hop on. Put a foot in the stirrup, lift yourself up and be taken completely by surprise as the pony suddenly rears up on its back legs and flips over. Crash into the back of the car, missing the tow hitch by a miracle, and watch the pony fall about a centimetre from your leg. Bonus points if the pony shatters the rear light in the fall.
9. Ride out on a large and badly behaved stallion, your instructor accompanying you on a sweet little mare who unbeknownst to either of you is in heat. Unfortunately, the stallion notices. He bucks you off once. Bounce. Get back on and ride 10 metres further before he starts bucking again. He chucks you off in the middle of the first buck and lands on you at the second. Fail to remember any of this due to your concussion. Bonus points if your instructor is forced to fend the stallion off his mare with a deft right hook, and is worried about you for the first time in living memory.
And the winner is…
10. Ride a highly unpredictable little pony in the company of your friend the Cowboy Dude. Feel secretly surprised and pleased that the pony hasn’t put a toe out of line all day. Decide to try a canter. The first two go well. At the third one, the pony begins to buck like a bronc whilst galloping. Stick on for a short while and then, as the pony hits the brakes, turn a somersault over her head and land on your back, knocking the wind out of yourself. Bonus points if your sister catches the fall on camera. Extra bonus points if the Cowboy Dude then posts it on Facebook with the caption “Firn’s final moments”, getting more attention than your Facebook page has ever had.