Regardless of how well-trained or gentle a horse is, there’s a likelihood of falling off when you ride them. No one wishes to sustain injuries from falling off a horse, but sometimes it’s impossible to do so safely. Unfortunately, there’s no specific method to prevent yourself from falling off a horse completely.
Falling properly off a horse is a skill to acquire. If it happens, make sure you’re well relaxed to go with the fall. After landing, you can roll back to your feet.
Reasons You May Fall Off Your Horse
- There’s a fence your horse refused to jump over.
- It might trip or spook.
- It’s animated, or it’s naughty and bucks.
- The horse makes a sudden stop or turn.
- It jumps too high over a fence and throws you out of your saddle.
What Can You Do to Avoid a Fall?
Here are some essential things you can do to reduce the possibility of falling off a horse.
- Ensure to ride a horse that equals your level of skill.
- If you’re looking to enjoy your ride while viewing the environment where you’re riding, make sure you’re riding with awareness. Consider diverting your horse’s attention if you sense something that might spook it.
- The riding environment should match your level of skill.
- Ensure to be in control of your horse, not the other way round.
- The girth or cinch should be tight to prevent the saddle from sliding or turning to the side.
- Position yourself correctly in the saddle and adjust the length of the stirrups to fit you.
Preparing for the Fall
Before embarking on a ride, ensure to always prepare for a fall, in case it occurs. Riding a horse always comes with risks. Getting ready without eventually falling is better than falling without preparation.
Experience and skill have several benefits but aren’t enough to ensure your total safety while in the saddle. Here are some safety steps you should take before mounting your horse:
- Wear a helmet (ASTM-approved).
- Your boots should have a one-inch heel to prevent slipping through your stirrups.
- Wear a crash vest to offer extra protection to your torso.
- Wear gloves to protect the hands and enable a better grip on the reins.
What You Should Do When You Fall Off Your Horse
1. The Reins
When you’re about to fall off a horse, deciding what to do with the reins is vital. Should you hold onto them or let them go? You only have a few seconds to make a decision. If you’re on the trail, you can hold onto them to prevent the horse from getting loose. Also, if there’s anyone else on the path, consider grasping the reins to avoid endangering your horse.
Sometimes there might not be enough time to make the right decision, and you’ll do something automatically: let go or hold on. If the horse bolts, it’s safest to release the reins to avoid getting dragged or entangled. Besides, there’s a risk of dislocating a shoulder if you hold onto them.
2. How to Fall
When you’re about to fall, kick your feet from the stirrups to avoid dangling upside with your face close to the horse’s hooves. If it gets spooked and begins to run, you might get a severe injury if a foot or both feet get caught up in the stirrup.
Resist the urge to stick out your legs or arms to break the fall. It’s an excellent way to dislocate your bones, wrists, or arms. Besides, your horse could step on that part that you stuck out. Tuck in your limbs close, with your chin to the chest, and target to hit your shoulder’s backside on the ground first. You can then roll onto your butt or back out of the horse’s way.
The primary thing that determines your safe falling off a horse is how much you divert the main impact away from your body’s most fragile parts. Your wrist can’t withstand the total pressure of your body weight, momentum, and gravity. That’s why your safest option is to tuck in your arms and hands to your side. Also, consider protecting your head (even with a helmet on).
The best part of your body to land with is your shoulder since it’s more resilient. However, ensure not to hit the ground with your neck, but your shoulder blade. Your somersault doesn’t have to be perfect while directing the momentum off from your spine and neck. Try as much as you can to curl up like a ball.
3. After the Fall
As soon as you fall and are out of your horse’s way, take a minute to check yourself. At this time, you may not feel pain from any slight injury, if there is. If you suspect a broken bone, a severe bruise, or you hit your head, it’s always safer to take a break (a few minutes) until you’re sure there are no severe damages. Riding with a severe injury can make the injury worse.
Next is to ensure the horse is okay. It must have thrown you off for a reason, and if it fell while jumping or on a trail, it could get hurt. Also, you want to be sure the horse doesn’t bolt after the fall.
If you don’t feel any severe pain, rise, and return to the saddle. This action will reassure anyone you’re riding with and your horse that you’re okay and set to continue riding.
The most common way to fall involves going over the horse’s neck, and falling off the side is the second way. The least common method is falling backward. If you happen to get unseated, try not to stick your legs or arms out, as the horse may step on you, or you may break a bone when you fall. Roll away from your horse so it doesn’t step on you or fall on you when it’s getting up or running away.
Consider having a mobile phone with you so you can contact someone if you need help after falling. You should program an emergency number and your stable number into your phone to quickly reach for help. The phone should be on your body, not in your saddle, as it won’t be useful if your horse runs away with it.