wikiHow to Avoid Injuries While Falling Off a Horse

Four Parts:Protecting Yourself Before RidingReducing Risk while RidingFalling SafelyRecovering From the Fall

Falling off a horse is almost inevitable if you ride often. Learn how to prevent falls, reduce the risk of injury, and fall gracefully when it happens. Never hesitate to voice your fears to an experienced trainer or rider, who can help you with specific issues.

Part 1
Protecting Yourself Before Riding

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    Always wear a riding helmet. This can make the difference between a slight headache and a severe concussion. Choose a horse-riding helmet certified by a safety organization. Have helmet fits correctly before you mount. Ideally, have it checked professionally when you buy it, and return periodically to have it re-padded.
    • Don't use a bike riding helmet instead of a riding helmet. Bike helmets don't offer the same protection as riding helmets.
    • Keep some spare riding helmets at the barn. This way if somebody forgets their helmet you're prepared.
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    Choose safe riding clothes. Wear ankle length zip up riding boots. Other types of shoes and tie up riding boots can get trapped in the stirrups, which will drag you along and cause serious or fatal injuries. Wear long trousers such as jeans or jodhpurs, riding gloves, reins with safety clips, half chaps so that you'll stay in the saddle, and a jumping vest to protect your ribs and organs.
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    Ride using a 'soft' bit rather than a harsh bit. Harsh bits are often used to encourage a horse to slow down. However, unless they are being used by a very skilled rider, all they do is cause the horse pain when the reins are pulled, and therefore cause the horse to open his mouth to escape the pain. If the bridle has a noseband which stops him doing this, he will likely rear up or bolt instead. Therefore, unless you have been riding for many years, do not ride a horse in a severe bit as these usually make horses misbehave and act dangerously, increasing your risk of falling.
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    Check the tack is comfortable for the horse. The horse could be uncomfortable or in pain, for example because the saddle does not fit properly or is too far back or forward, or any of the tack rubs or digs in. The horse will learn to associate being ridden with pain/discomfort and begin to fear being ridden, and therefore may misbehave (e.g. by bolting, rearing or bucking) in order to try and escape from the painful tack. Painful tack is an often overlooked, but very simple way of resolving many behavioural issues well as ensuring your horse is happy so you have a good relationship.
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    Use Peacock Iron Safety Stirrups and non slip stirrup pads. Safety stirrups come in various designs, but all are meant to prevent your foot from becoming trapped in case of a fall.
    • Even with safety stirrups, make sure you keep your heels down. It's better to be safe than sorry.
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    Check your tack before mounting. Confirm that the tack fits properly before you get on the horse. Check all equipment for worn out areas, and for straps that are too tight, too loose, or rubbing against the horse. These problems can cause bad behavior in the horse, increase the chance of a fall, and may make a fall more dangerous. After you mount up re-check your tack. This will prevent any accident from happening.
    • Pay special attention to the girth, or straps around the horse's belly. If the saddle is not tightly cinched, it can slide and dump you off the horse. Always tighten your girth before mounting.
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    Check for signs of pain. If your horse is acting up or displaying unusual behavior, take some time to examine him. Rub your hand all over your horse's body. If he shows signs of pain anywhere, have your vet check it. If your horse continues the unexplained behavior, ask for help from an experienced rider.
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    Buy a non slip girth and a non slip saddle pad to keep your saddle from slipping. The nonslip girth and nonslip saddle pad are designed to keep you and your horse safe. If your saddle slips while you're riding you'll fall and break your pelvis.
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    Buy some Safety Cross Ties for the barn. It's just as important for your horse to be safe as it is for you to be safe. Use some Bailing Twine to install your Safety Cross Ties. Bailing Twine will last longer than chains and it will help your Safety Cross Ties fit your horse.
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    Make sure that you buy some boots for your horse. The boots will protect your horses legs. If you can't find any boots buy some polo wraps to protect your horses legs. The polo wraps will work just as well as the boots.

Part 2
Reducing Risk while Riding

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    Maintain your balance. This skill is essential in all horse riding, and will help keep you safe when the horse spooks or attempts a difficult maneuver. Be conscious of your posture as you ride, keeping this advice in mind:
    • Your shoulders should remain perpendicular with your toes, and pushed back so you are sitting up straight. You will need to move when turning or perform another maneuver, but you should return to this position.
    • Maintain even weight on each foot in your stirrups, except when intentionally putting weight on them.
    • Never bounce around in the saddle or intentionally "mess around." Besides losing your balance, this may cause the horse to rear, buck, or increase speed suddenly.
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    Use the reins appropriately. Never jerk on your reins with more force than necessary. A sudden pull may surprise the horse and cause dangerous behavior.
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    Keep your feet in a safe position. When in the saddle, push your heels down and keep your stirrups on the widest part of your foot, just before your toes. In this position, you can easily slip your feet out of the stirrups. Do this if the horse starts bucking or acting dangerously, to avoid catching your feet and being dragged behind the horse.
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    Keep control of the horse. If the horse isn't listening to you, you will have a harder time controlling him when he spooks. If you suspect the horse isn't paying attention, try "sponging" the reins by squeezing them in alternate hands. The bit will wiggle slightly, and alert the horse to pay attention.
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    Stop if necessary. If your horse gets nervous when another horse passes by, when a plastic bag drifts by, or any other reason, stop the horse. Let another rider know what's going on, and attempt to calm the horse before moving.
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    Prevent a horse from rearing. If you react quickly, you can prevent the horse from rearing. As soon as it starts to spook, pull the head to one side and push the hindquarters out to the other side. Now the horse's weight will be on its forequarters, "disengaging" its ability to push off its hindquarters and rear.
    • Never pull down and back. This can cause you or the horse to flip over.
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    Try to stay on a spooked horse. If you lose control of the horse, do your best to stay with the horse's motion, and to gradually slow and calm your mount. Hold on mostly with your thighs, using your own balance to stay with the horse's motion.
    • Holding on with your calves can cue the horse to increase its speed.
    • If there's no way you can stay on the horse, start planning to jump as described below. A more practiced rider can perform an emergency stop.

Part 3
Falling Safely

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    Try and kick your feet out of the stirrups before you fall unless your accident happens too fast.
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    Let go of the reins. This is very important. If you hang onto the reins, they could tangle your legs or the horse's legs, often with fatal results. Holding on can also pull the whole bridle off your horse, which Is dangerous as the horse will be much harder to catch. Finally, pulling the reins pulls the horse toward you, and potentially on top of you.
    • Never wrap the reins or lead rope around your hands or your wrist. If you fall off and your horse starts running while the reins are like this, you could be dragged to death or break a bone.
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    Curl into a ball. As you fall, try to bring your arms and legs in to your body, almost into a ball shape. Your instinct will be to stick your arms out, so you must fight this with advance planning and conscious decisions. Bent elbows and knees are less likely to break, and less likely to be caught on tack. Curling up also reduces the chance that the horse will step on you.
    • While falling in this position, attempt to land on your upper arm.
    • It is possible to learn how to land on your feet, bending your knees to cushion the impact. This may be safer if you are falling from a tall horse, but it's best to practice this with a trainer beforehand.
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    Relax your muscles. Try to relax your body as you fall. Tensing up your muscles will severely limit your body's ability to absorb impact. It may take many falls (real or practiced) to learn this habit, but pain and injury will be reduced once you do.
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    Roll away from the horse. Roll as you land to lessen the impact and move away from the hooves. Keep your arms up to protect your head.
    • Learning to somersault can help you with this motion.
    • If you see another horse coming towards you, do whatever you can to get out of the way. Do not yell or scream, as this may make the other horses spook.

Part 4
Recovering From the Fall

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    Check your status. After you are out of the way lay completely still and flat on the ground. Be still for at least 30 seconds to catch your breath and assess the situation. Check yourself for injury as follows:
    • Slowly move your toes, then ankles, then fingers, then wrists. If you feel any joint pain, and people are nearby, lie still until help comes. It may be dangerous to move.
    • If all seems well, slowly prop up both knees as if doing sit ups or crunches.
    • Slowly move your hands to your head and feel for any blood. If there is blood, do not panic. Ask nearby people for assistance. If no one is around, leave the horse and focus on finding help without overexerting yourself.
    • If your head isn't bleeding and you've caught your breath, sit up very slowly. If at any moment you feel like you'll pass out, slowly lay back down and try again in a few minutes.
    • Once you can sit up completely, check for cuts and scrapes and make a note to treat them later. Slowly stand up.
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    Approach your horse. By now your, horse should have slowed to a walk, and hopefully another rider has grabbed the reins. Slowly walk up to your horse with a calming tone and take the reins.
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    Mount the horse if able. Many riders say you should get back on the horse right away, before a fear of riding can take hold. However, this is not worth the risk of serious injury from pushing yourself too hard. All of the following must be true for your to mount immediately:
    • You do not have a headache, and you do not feel queasy or lightheaded. (If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. Do not remount.
    • The horse did not fall.
    • You don't have any broken bones or a concussion.
    • You do not see or feel any injuries apart from minor scrapes and cuts.
    • You did not land on your head or feel any impact to the head.
    • And there is another rider accompanying you.
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    Go easy on yourself and the horse. Palpate your horse, and walk him for a bit if he is still unsettled or if he fell. Watch for signs of injury before you try anything more intense. Even if the fall was minor and you got right back on, stick to walking and a little trotting until you are certain everything is all right.
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    Try to figure out what happened. Attempt to analyze the situation so you can avoid it in future. You may need to work on your own balance or cues, or train your horse. If you know what spooked our horse, try to stay away from similar situations in future, or learn how to desensitize your horse to prevent this happening again.


  • Prevent your horse from bolting by having him or her move in tight circles until he slows down. Don't make this so tight that the horse falls over.
  • Always warm your horse up before you ride, and cool it down afterward. This will help the horse move more smoothly, reducing falls.
  • Ride with a mobile phone, fully charged but turned off to avoid spooking the horse. Keep the numbers of the horse yard and a local veterinarian. Keep the phone in its case and clipped to your belt hold, or in a saddle bag or ankle case. Do not keep the phone attached to the saddle, since the horse may run off.
  • If you choose to jump, have proper supervision. Make sure that you and your buddy safely approach the jump one at a time. Take your time, set up for the jump properly, and let your horse do the rest. The first person should jump as the second person watches, then turn around at a safe distance to watch the second person jump. Be careful when you jump, as jumping is the most dangerous part of riding.
  • Ride horses on a lunge line. Riding on a lunge line will give you extra control. This will prevent accidents and in the event of an emergency or if your horse misbehaves you can get off right away.
  • Always close any gates when riding in an arena, to prevent your horse running too far.
  • If you have any type of medical information card, carry it with you in the pocket of your riding jeans to alert passers-by to special needs.
  • Do some carrot stretches with your horse before you ride. This will keep your horse calm.
  • Feeding your horse Seminole Calm and Cool horse products is another great way to keep your horse calm. If your nearest feed store doesn't carry Seminole Calm and Cool horse food contact Seminole and they'll deliver the food to you.
  • Lunge your horse before your ride. This will help your horse get rid of any extra energy. Lunging your horse will tire him or her out and he or she will be too tired to misbehave.
  • If your horse usually tries to get you to fall off when you ride, then take short rides. Even if they are for just a few minutes. That will teach your horse that you give a release when they do something good.


  • Never ride alone or at night. It's safer to ride with supervision. Riding alone or at night will put you and your horse at risk for being killed.
  • Keep an eye out for holes as you ride, to avoid tripping.
  • Don't look down at the ground while you're riding. That's very dangerous. To avoid this as soon as you mount up say to yourself, "Head up, heals down.".
  • If your horse is afraid of cars as soon as you hear a car while you're in the riding ring or pasture bring your horse to a stop until the car passes by.
  • A serious impact will ruin your helmet, even if it looks fine. Many helmet companies will replace your helmet for free
  • Punishing the horse will not help, and may encourage bad behavior.
  • Never ride in the rain. Riding in the rain will cause you and your horse to slip and fall.
  • Check the weather before you ride. Cancel the ride if it looks like there will be a storm, severe rain, or reduced visibility.
  • If you're a kid never ride without adult supervision. Riding without adult supervision is a good way for accidents to happen.
  • Wear a helmet while you clean your horses hooves. This will protect you if your horse kicks you in the head.
  • Find a safety zone in the barn like the tack room. This will prevent any accidents in the barn.
  • If you have a broken bone get to the doctor right away. If your doctor's not available go to the emergency room or an orthopedic doctor's office. If it's confirmed that you have a broken bone don't ride again until the doctor gives you the OK.
  • Avoid riding on a road. Riding in the road is very dangerous. You and your horse will be at risk for getting hit by a car.
  • Listen to your riding instructor or horse trainer. If you don't listen to them you'll get hurt.
  • Watch out for snakes.
  • If you hit your head hard even with a helmet on, get a CT Scan.
  • Always ride at a slow pace. If you ride too fast you and your horse will be at risk for breaking your neck.
  • If you trot on your horse grab the mane for balance instead of the saddle. Using the horses mane for balance will allow you to correct the saddle if you start to slip. This won't hurt the horse as horses have no feeling in their mane.
  • Do not groom or tack up your horse alone. It's dangerous to groom or tack up a horse without any supervision.
  • Call for emergency help if you lose consciousness, even if only for a few seconds.

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