Falling off of a horse is a lot like being pushed off of a ledge head-first into water. I don’t mean the falls where you just slip off of the side or get tossed straight up and then straight down again. I’m talking about diving head first over a jump into the sand on the arena floor. At first, there’s a moment of uncertainty and wondering what is happening, much like when your friend first shoves you towards the water. Next, your heart is in your throat, but not for long before your disoriented again, falling for what feels like days, unaware of where your extremities are and hoping that something breaks your fall other than your head. The only difference between falling off of a horse and falling into water is, of course, the landing. At first, it just loud. I personally always wear a helmet, so it’s a loud crack when I come in contact with the gravel footing. Your ears might ring, the world might spin, and for a moment nothing hurts. A jolt of energy might flow through you and you feel absolutely nothing as the adrenaline fills your body. But it doesn’t last long. No, it’s only a few moments before the ringing in your ears gets louder, the grit of the sand is noticed between your teeth, the sting of the burn on your elbows and ache of being dropped six feet. It sometimes feels like all of your bones racked together when you came in contact with the ground. Sometimes you want to vomit, the world is spinning so fast and the ringing in your ears is blocking out all of the other sounds. But as long as no bones are broken, your helmet isn’t cracked, and you can steady yourself enough to walk a straight line, you get back on.