Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to Avoid Injury when Falling off a Horse (or a bike)

Humm... the way I figure it, a bike and a horse are quite similar... in the days of old you had knights in shining armor atop wonderful steeds, these days you have knights on shiny bikes... not much armor... or that lance or the coat of arms... but still... hey what the heck... found this interesting article on the internet... may come in handy... enjoy it...

Falling off a horse can range from embarrassing to fatal. If you ride horses, it is almost guaranteed that you will fall off sooner or later. To avoid injuries, especially to the head, you must learn to take precautions and fall in a certain way that will minimize the risk of injury.

1. Ride with a buddy, so that he or she can get help if you fall.
2. Choose safe riding clothes such as boots with flat soles, an approved helmet, long pants such as jeans or jodphurs, boots for you that have a heel, and a sleeved shirt (the longer the sleeves, the better to help prevent gravel rash), a heavy leather jacket is also quite handy... makes you look cool too!
3. Wear fluorescent or brightly coloured clothing. Not only will drivers be able to see you, but it will be easier to see where you have fallen, even if your buddy is some distance away. Your horse should wear something fluorescent independently, in case he gets loose.
4. Use correctly fitted safety stirrups. These come in a range of designs, but are all meant to prevent your foot becoming trapped in case of a fall. If the stirrup bar (the part of the saddle that the stirrup leather attaches to) is the old hinged type, keep it in the open position.
5. Relax. Allow yourself to fall and don't resist. In the time between when you leave the saddle and when you hit the ground, tensing up your muscles will severely limit your body's natural ability to absorb impact.
6. Let go of the reins. This is often hard to do as it's natural to want to protect your horse from escaping into danger, but by hanging on you are risking being dragged. Trust your buddy to catch your horse.
7. Remember that as you fall to land on your rear end or, if the horse is tall and you are short, to land on your feet. If you do this, use the same type of force you would use if you were dismounting. If you land on your feet, bend your knees as you land.
8. Duck and roll away from the horse as soon as you hit the ground. Rolling will lessen the impact and get you away from their hooves, and ducking should protect your head. Treat it like a somersault.
9. Learn that once you stop rolling to gently move your arms, legs, fingers, toes, head, wrists, and ankles, one at a time. If you feel even the slightest bit of pain, lay still until help comes and it would be dangerous to move. But if you feel up to it, stand up slowly without jerking your body. Your friend should have caught your horse and should be holding it for you.
10. Check your horse over and walk him for a bit. This will give you a chance to find out if you have any injuries and also to have a stretch, plus comeon bro... its your horse... its got feeling too man...
11. Try to figure out what happened. Were you loping on the wrong lead and got unbalanced? If so, you should work with your horse on picking up the correct lead so that doesn't happen again.
12. Climb back on if you are happy to do so. This is a very important step, because the later you get back on, the harder it will be.

· If you are trying to land on your feet, remember that if you slip, it is better to fall backwards than forwards. If you fall back, you should be able to catch yourself, but if you fall forward, you will probably land underneath a horse and could have a harder time getting up.
· Carry a mobile phone, charged up, but switch off. Make sure you have the numbers of the yard you have ridden out from and your vet. Carry the phone on your person in a belly bag or ankle safe for instance. Calling for help is much more difficult if your phone is on the horse running away from you.
· Some people, especially children and teenagers, naturally roll when they fall, but when you get older and become less flexible, this can become harder or impossible. Doing exercises to improve your flexibility will improve your riding as well and reduce the risk of injury. Judo lessons are especially good for this.
· Laugh. Laughing helps some people relax and it can help quieten your nerves.
· Always wear a helmet.

· If you feel like you're about to fall, grab the horse's mane or the saddle horn(if riding western), but not any other part of the horse. Do not spook or hurt the horse. That's all it will take for him to throw you off or bolt.
· If you lose consciousness, even for a few seconds, call an ambulance immediately, even if you feel fine after.
· If you have any back pain, don’t get back on the horse. Back injuries can take time to fully reveal themselves and riding will damage them further.
· Never wrap the reins around your hands.

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