Falling This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was a warm spring afternoon, and I had just gotten back from a miserable day of school. I waved goodbye to my mother as she drove away with dust following behind her. I was left at the barn where my usual riding lessons occur, only today I was going to experience something very shocking. My instructor was outside by the riding circle finishing up with the previous lesson. She told me to saddle up Cricket, a horse that I didn't feel like putting up with that day.

I strolled into the barn and walked over to Cricket's stall. Her soft brown eyes were gazing at me through the steel bars. When I brought her bridle and saddle into her stall, she nudged me with interest to see what I had, then saw the saddle and snorted with indifference. I brushed down her sleek white back with a curry comb and placed the saddle on her. After I put on her bridle, I walked her outside to the ring. Cricket followed resolutely.

My instructor was patiently waiting for me by the fence. She is usually a very grouchy woman. Her thin face was pale against her beige jacket, and her sunken eyes and high cheekbones gave expression to her every emotion. She greeted me with a quick smile and ordered me to warm up with a walk. I grabbed Cricket's mane with the reins in my hand and swiftly mounted. As I put my riding gloves on, I directed Cricket to the outside edge of the circle and began to walk clockwise around the circle.

With a hoarse voice, my instructor ordered me to begin a trot, posting to the horse's inner front leg. Cricket was being stubborn and lazy as usual, so I had to try several times before she picked up the pace. Finally she responded to my foot and lazily began to trot. I was hardly paying attention to her, instead I was in deep thought about the troublesome day I had had. I was worried about what high school would be like and how my grades would be and how I would find my way around. These were simple fears but they still invaded my concentration. I was vaguely paying attention and my instructor knew it. Seeing my lack of effort she started correcting the minor imperfections of my riding, such as tightening the grip on the reins and posting to the correct leg. She then instructed me to turn left and begin trotting counterclockwise.

After completing two circles she told me to canter. I loosened the reins to give Cricket the urge to run and then squeezed my legs tightly to the back of her torso. She didn't canter so I tried again. There was still no response. Each time I clasped my legs at her side the trot accelerated. I was losing my patience and my concentration.

We were approaching a collection of shrubbery which I hadn't noticed. A small animal of some sort scattered through the brush making an abrupt rustling noise startling Cricket as we passed by. I wasn't prepared for her quick change in gear, so I flew backward as she galloped into the center of the ring.

I lost complete control of the reins, my hands were grasping at the air, searching for something secure to grab onto to save my frightened body from falling. The call of my groping hands wasn't answered and I began to slip away. The entire experience went by so slowly it felt as though the earth had stopped its rotation. All of my senses had turned on immediately. I could hear the muffled call of my instructor, she was shouting some last words of hope as my body cleared the saddle. I was in utter shock, my mind recorded every feeling and every movement my body went through. I was waiting for the impact of pain to hit my body as I crashed onto the hard dirt ground.

Finally I crashed to the dirt floor after what seemed an eternity. I landed on my behind, backwards with my arms holding me up. I stared off in amazement because I found I wasn't at all hurt. I was covered with dirt and stood up to brush myself off. My instructor took hold of Cricket's reins and came over to see if I was okay. I was still in shock from what had happened, but I nodded that I was all right. She asked me if I wanted to continue the lesson and after a slight pause, I answered her positively.

I was lucky that I hadn't fallen off the horse the wrong way or I could have been badly hurt. Most riders my age would probably have been too scared to get back onto the horse that had thrown them. I, on the other hand, was determined to try again and when I found out that falling wasn't as painful as I thought, I had lost the fear. Before I fell I had imagined the pain some riders must go through when falling, but this fall had rid my mind of these fantasies. I now began to think that maybe high school wouldn't be as bad as I had imagined. Now I had the strength and courage to try different things without letting my imagination get the better of me. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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