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How To Fall Off A Horse

Updated on March 6, 2013

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 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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    • skeltop profile image

      Pamela Skelton 5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      I have ridden (and taught) for many, many years. I believe that the fear of falling resides in the teacher, not the rider: hence, the emphasis on how not to hit the ground. In very young riders (the ones least likely, I have found, to become hurt in an inevitable fall), the first fall just gets it out of the way. The longer a rider goes without falling, it appears the harder the recovery from the fall becomes.

    • FishAreFriends profile image

      FishAreFriends 5 years ago from Colorado

      The first time I fell I got yelled at for falling off on the wrong side, but hey, I landed on my feet!

      Good hub :)

    • jenniferrpovey profile image

      jenniferrpovey 6 years ago

      Unless you're hurt, you should always get back on. And if the rider IS hurt, SOMEBODY should get on the horse or they can learn that if the rider comes off they get to stop work... You really don't want that to happen. (And you don't want to be the one who has to fix it, believe me).

    • profile image

      newday98033 6 years ago

      Someone told me the same thing when my daughter began riding. I wasn't there to see it, but apparently she got up and climbed back on. She has not ridden in years but the training and confidence learned in riding (and falling off) are still apparent.