How To Fall Off A Horse
Don't you mean how not to fall off?
That would be how most people would see this. Unfortunately, if there is one absolute truth about riding horses: Sooner or later you will fall off.
In traditional English hunt country there is a saying: It takes ten falls to make a good rider.
Does this mean that falling off really makes you a better rider? No. It means that falling off is a reality. Does that mean, by extension, that getting hurt is inevitable?
Not necessarily. There are right ways to fall off and wrong ways. Although I can't teach fall training on the internet, I can certainly give a few tips on not getting hurt.
Tip 1: Wear the right gear
This means, first and foremost, a helmet. I personally recommend wearing a helmet every time you ride and for ground work if either handling a difficult horse or working with horses in a herd. A helmet is not a license to be complacent around horses and will not prevent every injury, but it will prevent or mitigate head injuries (the most common kind). Riders do still get concussions even with helmets, but they are less severe and less common.
Second, it means proper footwear. Riding in sneakers, especially English, is dangerous. Occasional riders who would rather not buy proper riding boots or cowboy boots can make do with ordinary boots or shoes providing they have a smooth sole and a small heel. Boots are better than shoes. Flip flops and sandals should never be worn around horses. Nor should steel toed boots, which can actually increase the severity of injury if a horse steps on your foot. Proper shoes prevent injury by reducing the risk of your foot becoming stuck in the stirrup if you come off.
I also recommend that for speed work or jumping fixed fences cross country, or when riding a horse known to be dangerous, a proper vest be worn. These should be correctly fitted to the rider in order to be effective.
Tip 2: Get fall training
Unfortunate, because of insurance and liability concerns, very few lesson barns offer fall training. However, martial arts instructors will often give instruction falling correctly.
There are two key things. The first is that you need to learn not to put your hand out to save yourself. This is a natural instinct, but a very dangerous one. Landing on your hand is almost guaranteed to result in breaks in the hand, wrist, arm and/or collarbone. Instead, you need to learn to tuck your limbs in and flex your torso inward. This not only prevents you from landing on a long bone but also means that nothing is sticking out for the horse to step on.
Tip 3: Learn not to worry
This is the hardest of the three tips. People who are determined never to fall off or who are terrified of falling off are more likely to be hurt than those who accept that it is inevitable. And in some situations, falling off is better than staying on. At a certain point, it is best to accept that you are about to hit the ground, relax and let it happen.
Personally, I have seen plenty of incidents that demonstrate the value of knowing how to fall off correctly. In identical falls, a properly trained person will walk away while somebody who is less skilled in landing may earn a trip to the emergency room.
Knowing how to fall off a horse might seem completely contradictory, as, surely, it's one thing you never want to do. However, it can save you from a lot of pain...trust the person who has broken a few things coming off horses in her time. (Including an expensive helmet, but better that than my head).
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