Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Allison Price
The inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit was held at University of Kentucky Spindletop Hall in Lexington on April 23rd.
He showed images and videos of riders leaving their mounts during his engaging presentation. Warrington slowed the video down to show the audience where fall rider decisions helped or hurt their safety.
Warrington believes that there is an area of need in rider education. He suggests teaching riders how they can fall safely. Landsafe was founded by the Warringtons, who are deeply committed to rider safety. Their three main goals were to save lives, reduce injury, and improve safety education for parents and riders.
Landsafe has a simulator that helps riders fall safely. Safety Summit attendees didn’t get to test it, but those who had used the simulator at Landsafe clinics shared their experiences and how they learned how to fall safely.
Warrington opened his talk by sharing some statistics. There is a lot of research on statistics about topics such as airplane safety. However, there are many things to be learned about safety in equestrian sport, even though there are an estimated 7,000,000 people who participate annually. Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body for international horse sport, has found that there is a 1 in 250 chance of sustaining an injury from a fall. This ranges from low-impact falls of 1 in 250 to serious injuries of 1 in 520. According to Landsafe, the risk of serious injury in a fall is 1 in 55.
Equestrians have taken strides to reduce the number of falls. The introduction of frangible pin technology for cross-country has positively impacted the sport and reduced the incidence of rotational accidents. Horse and rider can suffer serious injuries from rotational falls. One in five rotational falls causes injury.
Warrington stated that the key to avoiding injury-free falls is to ensure every rider has an exit strategy every time they get on.
How to Fall Correctly
Warrington stressed that the body follows the rider’s gaze no matter where they are. This was reinforced by Warrington showing images and videos of both successful and injurious falls. He was able to show frame-by-frame what went right and what went wrong in each part of the fall by pausing the video. Many riders believe they should “tuck-and-roll”, but Warrington wants to reprogram riders’ thinking during falls.
Many riders will do whatever they can to keep their horse on the ground when they realize that they’re going to fall. Warrington stated that while this instinct is natural, it may not be the right decision. Warrington encourages riders have an exit strategy. When falling, riders should spread their arms to absorb most of the impact. He said that this doesn’t mean you should put your hands out, as it could cause concussive force to be applied to the wrist, potentially breaking them. Instead, focus on the long arm from the elbow to the side of your hand to absorb the impact. To slow down the impact, the rider should move away from the horse by rolling with their hands raised (think boxer sparring).
Warrington also noted that it is important to keep your neck safe when falling. To reduce the risk of neck injuries, you can tuck your chin towards the chest.
He explained that he was falling again. Arms out, legs straightened, chin down, eyes looking out from the circle of rotation (away form the horse), and then he rolled off.
Warrington, while demonstrating video evidence, stated that a rider shouldn’t hold onto the horse when it falls.
He said, “Someone will catch you horse!” “Let go!”
He said that equestrian sports require riders to have the right horse and be riding at the appropriate level. He said that this is more important than learning how not to fall.
Histories of Horses
The Warringtons teach riders how to fall in clinic settings by teaching them how to tumble on a mat. Keli Warrington is a gymnast and event rider who teaches riders body awareness through basic gymnastic skills. The riders then move on to the Landsafe simulator. This simulates real-life fall situations at speeds that allow riders to practice fall reaction techniques. Danny Warrington likened the Landsafe drills to a fire drill. The correct way to fall can be repeated until it becomes instinctive.
Danny Warrington, an ex-stillechase jockey, became an international advanced three day event rider. He noted that almost all falls are handled quickly and that the only riders who don’t react fast enough are jockeys who clip horses.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!