Equestrian safety: Falling off without getting seriously injured

3 min.

How many times have your tried falling off your horse? An old saying goes, that you are only a skilled rider when you have fallen off a horse 100 times. Every year for example, 1-2 Danes die and up to 8,000 people are injured when riding – and the number increases. When the accident is happens and you fall off, do you have control over how to hurt yourself as little as possible? Here are 4 tips on what to watch out for in order to try to avoid getting seriously hurt when falling off.

You may like to read: Equestrian safety: Can you ride with a concussion?

When the accident happens

There are no riders who happily make an involuntary descent from their horse. But the reality is that it happens to most of us. Your horse may be nervous, startled by something, or make a full stop in front of a jump. Suddenly you find yourself flying between its ears, and in the next moment you are sitting on the ground. No horse is 100 % safe. In fact, in Denmark for example equestrian sport is the 3rd most dangerous sport, and in worst cases, the sport can cost lives.

Falling off
It is hard to completely avoid falling off. But some situations can become more dangerous than others. Photo: Archive.

However, that does not mean that there is nothing to learn when you fall off. It is possible to take care of yourself and minimize the risk of injury if you follow some simple fall techniques. We know the advice sounds very simple, but it actually makes sense. Because some of the most common injuries occur on the arms, legs and back. If you know in advance what to do, you are minimizing the risk of having it go completely wrong.

Falling techniques when the accident happens
• Breathe and relax your body
• Arms and legs into the body
• Roll away from the horse
• Stay on the ground for a bit before getting up

YOU ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE HORSE

When you breathe, you automatically relax your body. If you tense up (and your muscles become stiff), there is a greater risk that you will hurt yourself more. Also try to make yourself as small as possible and keep your arms and legs close to your body. This reduces the risk of landing incorrectly on the arm or leg and, in the worst case, breaking it.

Another important thing is that you should roll away from your horse so that it does not step on you. Maybe you do not remember everything in the situation, but a little will go a long way. Remind yourself that in such situations, YOU are more important than the horse. If you have fallen off during a hack and the horse has taken off, remind yourself that horses remember well. And that in many cases they will try to return home to the stable if possible.

It is really important to try to get out of the stirups

STAY ON THE GROUND UNTIL THE ADRENALINE WEARS OFF

One very important thing to remember when falling off is to stay on the ground.  Too many riders are in a hurry to get back on their feet right after a fall. But the body is filled with adrenaline, which is pumped out into the body in connection with the fall.

Adrenaline is a stress hormone that your body releases when it senses that there is danger ahead. The side effect to adrenaline is that it can displace pain. It was necessary in the early days when we were prey animal and had to flee from dangerous predators. But with adrenaline in your body, you do not get a true picture of how much you have actually hurt yourself. Or whether something could be broken. Therefore, sit still and breathe and check where it hurts before you get up.

CORRECT EQUIPMENT IS IMPORTANT

It goes without saying that you should always wear a riding helmet that it is fitted correctly. No horses that are 100% safe. A good rule of thumb is that riding helmets should be replaced if they have been exposed to a fall. Then the interior may be damaged.

Always carry your phone with you so that you or people around you can call for help if needed. There are also applications you can download for the purpose. Also make sure to tell others if you are going on a hack and when you expect to be back.

Have a great ride and take care of yourself!

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