Learn How to Fall Off Your Horse – Practice minimises equestrian injury.
There is an art to falling off your horse in a way that will minimise your chances of getting hurt.
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 don’t to dwell on the moment and lie there assessing or analyzing. 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 after a fall …
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 your horse without you. If it’s in a ring fine, but on 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.
Always plan ahead and try to visualise what you will do in the event of a fall from your horse to minimise or totally prevent equestrian injury as much as possible.