One of the oldest addages in horseback riding is always get back on the horse. No matter what kind of fall or what happened, as long as your horse is able, get back up there and ride. The theory being of course, that if you immediately get back on, no fear will set in, for you or your horse, and the experience will be a learning one for horse and rider alike. Over the thirty odd years I have been riding (yes, I started young) I have had my opportunities to put to practice that theory, often with my mother watching with a hawk like glare to make sure I didn't slink off to the barn but did indeed get back on and ride.
I will never forget one late autumn day when my horse and I were in a private lesson with one of my trainers. I was young, almost twelve, and my horse was about the same age. We had a state qualifier coming up and my trainer, despite the deluge of rain that had been dropped on us for the last few days, demanded that we make use of a break in the weather to ride. The arena was sloppy, my horse almost sank halfway to his knees in the wet sand. We rode, practicing movements over and over, for an hour and half, my horse and I getting more weary by the moment, sweat dripping from us despite the chilly fall air. Suddenly, my horse tripped and fell to his knees, sliding precariously in the sloppy sand until he caught his nose on the ground and flipped over. Somehow in this process I got turned around and I can remember clearly seeing his haunches moments before they crashed down on me. He wiggled on top of me, struggling to get up and finally managed to roll through the wetness onto his feet. I was so terrified he had broken his neck it took a moment to register that he was alright and indeed standing. I leapt to my feet and reached out to him, my trainer panicking that I had been hurt. Shaking, I stood with my head on my horse's neck, the two of us catching our breath, before I checked him over. He, thankfully, was alright. My trainer said to call it a day, but my mother, who had been sitting on a jump in the middle of the arena said, as if nothing had happened, "she is to get back on and finish her lesson."
Looking back I don't know who was more shocked, me or my trainer, but he gave me a leg up (something he would otherwise never do), had us do some easy, stretching exercises, and then called it a day. People hear this story and think my mom is unfeeling or cruel, but not so. Years later I asked her about it, if she had been afraid or worried and she responded she was terrified. She felt as if she would vomit and wanted desperately to take me and my pony home, however, if she had even blinked, I would have been afraid for ever and I would not have gone on to win championships or even continue to ride. I see now that she is absolutely right, had she shown me that, had her voice even quivered, I would have lost it. The accident was horrific and my horse and I could have easily been killed, but by the Grace of God we were not and also by the Grace of God, I was given a mother who knew how to lend me her strength not instill fear.
It is no different now when I write. There are times when something seems a horrific accident, a novella that when is finished and re-read doesn't work. A promotional idea that falls flat, or even the idea of writing for a career, which is a long, and arduous task. It is then I think of my mother and my horse and how important it was and is, to get back on the horse, to keep writing so that fear doesn't set in and progress can be made. So championships can be won and great novels written.