Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Allison Price
Horse riding can lead to you falling off your horse. It is not something that riders long for, but it is almost an introduction to equestrian sports. You will feel more comfortable in the saddle if you take the time to plan what to do in case of a fall and prepare ahead of time.
It is important to take the appropriate preventative steps such as riding a horse that is suitable for your level of experience and wearing certified safety equipment. However, a fall can happen to anyone and everyone.
- Get your feet off the ground and let the reins slide.
- Look in the direction you’ll hit the ground
- Tuck your arms and knees under your head
- If possible, land on your upper back
- When the horse hits the ground, you should roll away
Horse Riding Injuries
Riding is responsible for about 80% of all horse-related injuries. Head injuries, soft tissue damage and fractures are the most common injuries. The most common injuries to horses include injuries to the head, head, and legs. Although riding accidents are the most common cause of death in horses, a surprising number of riders don’t wear protective headgear while they ride.
A concussion refers to a brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or jolt. Your brain’s rapid movement causes it to “bounce around”, causing damage to brain cells and chemical changes that cannot be seen. Concussion symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feeling slow ( source). Concussions that are not treated can have long-lasting negative effects on your life and health ( source).
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine found that female athletes are more likely to sustain concussions than their male counterparts when playing sports with the same rules. They also have more severe concussion symptoms and take longer to recover (source).
The FEI Concussion Guidelines offer a step-by-step process to assess a person who may have suffered a concussion.
Preventative Steps to Avoid a Fall
While it is almost impossible to fall off a horse or be thrown at one, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk.
Ride a horse that is suited to your level
Relying on horses that are suitable for your skill level greatly reduces the chance of you losing control or falling off.
Ride at the appropriate level
While it is important to push ourselves to learn and make progress in equestrian sport, skipping steps and jumping ahead can cause dangerous situations in which we ask our horse questions that he may not fully understand or that we may not be ready for.
Make sure all Tack is in tact and properly attached
A few horses have fallen because the rider forgot to adjust their girth before they started riding. Faulty gear, such as partially torn straps and rains that snap during a riding session can cause a horse to become agitated or give a pony the opportunity to learn the lesson quickly.
Use the appropriate safety gear and equipment
Certified Riding Helmet
A safety helmet is your first line of defense if you fall off a horse. Because everyone is different, the helmet must be fitted correctly to your head. The helmet should be snug enough to not slip from one side to the other or front to back. To ensure that the helmet stays in place when it falls, the chin strap must be properly adjusted.
Also, helmets must be approved by ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), or any other relevant safety authority in your area. If a helmet is damaged by impact from a fall, it should be replaced.
Higher-priced helmets do not always mean better protection. They can provide superior comfort in terms of aeration and adjustment options as well as design variations.
Riding vests help protect your spine and vital organs from the force of the fall. You can also use it to protect yourself from the horses’ hooves if he steps on or kicks you. It is mandatory equipment for eventing riders who are competing on cross-country courses. However, it is also used extensively by recreational riders.
The body protector is not the only option for air vest. However, it serves a different purpose. A CO2 canister inflates the vest automatically when a rider is ‘detached” from the saddle. This works in the same way as an airbag in a car during a crash. Although the air vest reduces the impact of a fall, it does not disperse it as well as the body protector. This is why many competitive riders choose to wear both. Horse Rookie’s detailed review on the Hit Air inflatable air vest SV2 is a must-read .
Boots with a one-inch heel and covering your ankle will stop your foot from sliding through the stirrup. You may also be dragged along with your horse if your boot gets caught in the stirrup. This article provides more information about riding boots and the types of shoes that are appropriate for horse riding.
A Horse Falling off
Many riders will do whatever they can to stay on their horses when there is a chance of a fall. Although this instinctual and understandable, it can lead to more problems than good. It is important to feel confident that you can perform an emergency dismount. This allows you to assess the situation and decide the best course of action (which sometimes is to fall off).
Although it may seem easy to follow a “recipe” for landing correctly, in reality, you only have one second to respond. Preparation is key. We strongly recommend that any rider, novice or expert, practice their falling technique on a mattress or other soft surface. This will help build muscle memory and allow you to react more quickly when you fall.
Use Good Falling Technique
Okay, now let’s get down to the actual act and how to avoid it as safely as possible.
Take a look at where you will land
The body follows where the eyes lead. As with riding a horse, you should look in the direction that you want, away from the horse’s bodies.
Get away from the Horse
Your horse is going to fall. To avoid further injury, you should focus on landing away form your horse. You can do this by releasing your feet from the stirrups, and letting go of the reins. Safety is the most important thing in this situation. Holding onto the reins could cause injury to your horse or you. The horse may stumble if you hold on to them.
Tuck and Roll
Many people are familiar with the tuck-and-roll, which brings back fond memories. The tuck and roll is a technique that brings back fond memories of elementary school’s tumbling lessons from an enthusiastic PE teacher. Broken wrists and arms can be caused by using your hands to support the force from the fall. Our recommended exit strategy is to tuck you arms, legs and chin, then round your neck and back.
To prevent neck injury, tuck your chin. This automatically rounds your neck back and neck. Next, absorb the impact by rubbing your back on your shoulder.
Roll Away From the Horse
To distribute the impact of your fall, continue to move as soon as you touch the ground.
Stay on the Ground
If you don’t feel in danger of getting stepped on, do not get up immediately. You may not feel any injuries that you might have suffered because of the adrenaline pumping through your veins.
Thisvideo shows you the progress of a rider being taught by Keli and Danny Warrington, Landsafe. It also illustrates the fall technique they teach. It will be obvious that they use their arms and hands to support the rolling technique. This is fine if you are able to practice. You will likely inflict more injuries if you don’t.
Here are examples of falls in a simulator , with commentary about technique and areas for improvement.
Initial Physical Assessment – Checking for Injury
Assessing your physical condition is the first thing to do after a fall. Your blood will be flooded with adrenalin. You may feel your hands shaking or your heart beating quickly. You may feel dizzy or have vision changes that indicate a head injury. Adrenaline can mask pain so wait several minutes before you get up and move around. Medical professionals are the best to assess any of these symptoms.
Next, make sure you’re OK. Then try to catch your horse. Also check for any injuries. You may find him stressed or frightened by the incident. Give him time to calm down.
Should you How to Get Back on the Horse after a Fall?
After clearing your horse and yourself, you will have to decide whether or not you want to get back on the saddle. Some people won’t be bothered by a fall, and will simply jump on again as though nothing happened. Some people lose confidence and feel anxious about getting back on the horse.
If you feel unsafe or there are reasons why getting back on could put you, your horse, or others in danger, then stay on the ground.
You will need to get back on the horse quickly. This will allow you to not overthink the situation and prevent nervousness from building up until your next ride. You have to make a judgement call. However, if you feel safe and can get back in the saddle, we recommend it. Even if you only have to walk a few steps before you can get back on again. If you feel more at ease, ask someone to take you on a walk or lead you to the horse.
Feeling Confident After a Fall
Regaining confidence following a fall is a process that will vary from person to person. It will depend on how severe the incident was, whether you sustained an injury, and your tolerance for trauma.
There is no single solution to anxiety and it may take some time for you to get over it. You will need to be patient and show grace during this time.
These are our suggestions to help you get back that carefree ride.
Invest in new or different safety equipment
Perhaps now is the right time to invest in additional safety equipment, given the experience. It is a worthwhile investment if it makes you feel more secure next time you ride.
Make sure to change your helmet. Replace any helmet that has been damaged by falling.
Make sure you have the right equipment and tack.
Check your gear, especially the stuff you used in the fall, for any snags or other issues that may need repairing, cleaning or replacing.
Analyzing the Causes of Fall
The reasons behind a fall can often be obvious, such as when a horse stops or spooks before a fence. Sometimes it is subtler and harder to understand.
While we don’t encourage people to obsess about finding the causes, can help you to understand the situation and plan for the future. It may also lead to changes in your routines or processes.
These are some helpful questions you could ask yourself:
- Was the situation right for you and your horse
- Did you try something new, that the horse wasn’t ready for (mentally and physically)?
- Are the horses generally afraid of horses?
- Do you have any issues you could address by providing more training to you or your horse?
- Are you or your horse looking to learn new skills?
These questions do not place guilt on the victim, but they can help you determine if you can make changes or take steps to prevent the same thing happening again.