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Avoid Equestrian Injury - How to fall off your horse
The focus on how to prevent equestrian injuries is high as equestrian activities have one of the highest risks of serious injury and death compared with other sports (including motorcycle and car racing).
Before you go near a horse, you should consider the impact a head injury would have, if not on YOU, then on your family.
And remember that even the most experienced and best trained riders often suffer from the unplanned dismount.
Facts on horse related injuries :
The vast majority of equestrian related injuries (approximately 80%) occur while riding.
About 20% of injuries occur during horse handling activities (eg. driving, grooming, feeding, shoeing, leading) and unrelated activities, such as playing in the vicinity of a horse.
The cause and type of equestrian injuries ;
Falls from a horse are the major cause of injury (up to 80%), followed by crushing injuries inflicted by the horse or horse kicks.
The major cause of death and severe injury in horse riders is from head injury resulting from a fall from the horse.
Many riders were not wearing a protective helmet, or had been wearing an inadequate helmet, or one which was dislodged from the head during the fall.
Less severe injuries are predominantly bruises, cuts, abrasions (particularly to the face), fractures (mainly to the arm), and joint sprains. Injuries to children tend to be more severe than those to adults.
Which Riders are injured?
Children and adolescents are the most commonly injured group, particularly young girls (10-19 years) due to their more frequent participation in equestrian events and activities.
Horse-related non-riding injuries are also a serious problem, particularly for children.
The main injuries in children are to the head and face (skull fractures, concussion, cuts, bruises), and in adults are to the arm and fingers.
Many equestrian injuries result from being kicked by the horse.
Safety Tips - How to prevent equestrian injuries while riding and handling.
A combination of common sense and caution are needed when dealing with horses.
To avoid equestrian injuries a constant awareness of your horses strength, nature and behaviour are needed. Get to know your horse, respect it and be alert to things which may frighten or spook it.
Selecting an appropriate horse is the first step.
Choose a horse that matches you or your childs age, skill, experience and size, as well one which is suitable for the specific riding task.
Select older horses for novice riders as they are quieter and more predictable.
Try to consult or engage an experienced rider to help in selecting your horse, especially if its your first horse, its a worthwhile investment.
Always handle horses with care and respect ...
Always exercise caution around the hind legs of horse they are well designed for kicking.
Handle ropes and reins in a manner that avoids loops which could trap your fingers.
Keep very young, small children away from horses, especially other peoples horses. Children should not play near or in the vicinity of horses.
The Supervision and education of novice riders is essential.
Supervise children and novice riders around horses and at all times when riding. Start safety education early. Parents of child riders need to be knowledgable about horse safety. Well-conducted lessons, in safe surroundings, from experienced instructors, are an ideal way to learn and an excellent environment to learn in.
Riding helmets prevent injury
So wear a protective helmet whenever riding as they can prevent head injuries and many horse riding deaths. Riding helmets should comply with current safety standards. They should have either no peak or a collapsible one, and be worn securely fastened.
Ensure small children always wear a helmet around horses, as kicks to small heads can result in severe head injuries.
Increase safety with reliable riding equipment.
Always wear sturdy boots in the vicinity of horses. Your feet are easily crushed by your horses weight. When mounted wear riding boots (smooth soled, heeled, elastic-sided or long). Use stirrups 2-3cm wider than the boot. Consider safety stirrups for children and novice riders. A foot caught in a stirrup can mean you are dragged over bumpy ground.
- Routinely check your reins your saddle and other horse tack for serviceable condition.
- Carry out maintenance whenever needed.
- Competitive riders should always consider body protectors which can reduce the severity of soft tissue injuries.
- Face guards and knee pads are appropriate for polo players.
- Gloves can provide some hand protection.
Make safety your number one priority at equestrian events and competitions.
Insist on the mandatory use of helmets complying with current safety standards, by all competitors.
Use energy absorbing ground surfaces where possible.
Check and maintain ground conditions and fencing.
Always have on-the-spot medical treatment facilities available (first aid, paramedical or medical personnel).
Make sure their is a designated First Aid practioner, well trained in dealing with the types of injuries caused while riding, by falls or by horse kicks, bites and bumps.
Learn How to Fall Off Your Horse - Practice minimises equestrian injuries
There is an art to falling off your horse in a way that will minimise your chances of getting hurt. And learning that art is just as important as learning how to sit the trot properly or how get a clean flying change.
When you become unseated, the most important thing you can do is not stick out your legs or arms. If you try to break your fall, its odds on that all you'll break is a bone.
The second most important thing to remember is to roll away from your horse.
You don't want him to fall on you or to step on you when he's getting up or running away.
Remember the tumbling classes you had when you were little?
Just about every kid has to go through these; they're mandatory because (especially as kids) we all fall down, so gym teachers try to teach us how to absorb the shock of falling. In tumbling, you learned to tuck and roll. If you think of falling off as an act of tumbling at speed, you can see the logic of following the same guidelines.
Of course, we adults typically want to analyze, calculate and make a fast decision as we fall, but that can be a real mistake. Kids don't get hurt as often as adults because they just tuck and roll instinctively, without a lot of thought.
The third thing to remember is :
If you fall, don't hold onto the reins. Holding on is a good way to dislocate your shoulder, or to give your horse such a yank in the mouth that he'll get even more upset than he was when you and he first went your separate ways.
One of the most important aspects of parting company with your horse is how you handle the moment when the fall is finished.
In most cases, you have a window of opportunity in which to get up quickly and get a hand on your horse.
Usually your horse will stand stunned for a few seconds, surprised that his rider is no longer with him.
That's when you can grab him. If you miss that chance, he's probably going to take off, leaving you to face a very long walk home.
So do not to dwell on the moment and lie there assessing or analyzing, but try to get up quickly (though not in a way that startles the horse) and take hold of the reins to ensure the safety of your horse.
If your horse runs off ...
It could get hurt or hurt someone else, so the thoughts to have in your head as you're falling are,
- 'Roll from under' and 'catch my horse'. The odds are that the environment you fall off in is not safe for him without you. If it's in a ring, fine; but a cross-country course or on a trail ride or hack is a whole different story.
Naturally, the exception to the get up fast rule is if you're badly hurt or stunned.
- If you're at an event, the first-aid crew will be there soon enough; you don't want to make your injury worse, so lie still and wait for them.
- When you're riding outside the ring, always try to carry a mobile phone, so that in the event of a fall, you can call for help.
- Check that you've programmed your emergency numbers and the stable number into the phone before you head out.
- And always carry the phone on you, not on your saddle or in a saddle pack, because it's useless to you if your horse runs off with it.
Plan ahead and visualise what you will do in the event of a fall and prevent equestrian injuries as much as possible.