How to Recover from a Fall off a Horse
The risks of horseback riding may not be at the forefront of your mind when you saddle up. Yet, it is important to know what to do if you fall off a horse. You should assess yourself for any signs of shock or bleeding and, if present, call your local emergency telephone number. If you don’t experience any shock, bleeding, dizziness, or other pain, you can slowly get back up and dust yourself off!
Assess yourself for signs of shock or bleeding.If you are shivering, sweating, confused, feel dizzy, or otherwise “out of it,” you are likely in a state of shock. You may also experience shallow breathing, weakness, clammy skin, and a rapid, weak pulse.If you see any blood coming out of your body, you know you will need emergency assistance. You should dial your local emergency phone number if you are experiencing either shock or bleeding.
Phone the local emergency phone number if you are in shock.Since falling off a horse can result in serious bodily harm, you should dial the local emergency telephone number. Neck and head injuries are common in horseback riding and will be made worse if you try to move immediately after a fall, so stay where you are and call for help.
- In North America, dial 911. Other countries have different numbers for emergency services, so be sure to know the correct number for your location.
- If you’re traveling abroad, you might pre-program the country’s emergency number into your cell phone.
Use a phone or a whistle to request emergency assistance.If you are riding with other people, you should try to wave them down or otherwise call them for help. If you have a whistle, blow it! If you have a cell phone, give them a ring and ask for emergency assistance. When help arrives, they will try to keep you in a stable condition until the ambulance arrives:
- They may check your pulse.
- They should make sure your airway is clear.
- If necessary, they may administer CPR.
- They may bandage an open wound.
- If you feel even slight pain, don't move until help arrives.
Stay still until help arrives.Since you will likely be in a state of shock, you don’t want to move prematurely. You could easily make an injury worse be moving prematurely, such as a neck or head injury. Keep your helmet on and stay where you are until help arrives.
Get someone to catch the runaway horse.Although you don’t want to move to catch your runaway horse, you can always ask a friend or fellow rider to catch them! All too often, riders will try to catch a runaway horse and make an injury, such as a concussion, worse. Instead, request help in catching your loose horse.
- Don't feel that you need to jump right back on your horse.
- Take care of your injuries before worrying about riding again.
- More often than not, the horse will return to where you’ve fallen or not run off too far if the horse isn’t too spooked.
Getting Back on Your Horse
Stay still and assess your situation.Rather than jumping right back up on your horse, you’ll be better off if you take a minute to assess your situation. Take note of any symptoms of shock, such as sweating, weakness, and dizziness. If you experience any symptoms of shock, bleeding, or feel any pain or weakness, you should call your local emergency phone number. However, if you feel fine, you can take five minutes to relax and catch your breath.
Stand up slowly if you are not in shock and feel okay.If you are not in shock and have not experienced any major injury, you can slowly get back up. Feel your limbs to make sure you haven’t sprained anything. Take note of any bruises or scrapes. If you feel up to it, you can go and retrieve your horse.
- If you feel okay but not quite up to retrieving your horse, you could ask a fellow rider to do it.
Lead your horse on the ground.One of the best ways of getting back in tune with your horse is to work with it on the ground. Holding the reins, lead your horse on the ground while paying attention to their breathing. As you lead your horse on the walk, stay relaxed and attuned the rhythm of your horse’s breath.
Get back on your horse if you feel up to it.If you aren't injured, consider getting back in the saddle right away. By getting back on the horse and finishing your ride, you can end the ride on a good note!
- If you are working with a green or difficult horse, it's important for them to understand that throwing you will not get them what they want.
- If you aren't going to ride any more, spend some time walking with your horse, removing its tack, grooming, and talking to it after the accident.
Building up Your Confidence
Use progressive relaxation to reduce anxiety after a fall.Lie down on a carpet or an exercise mat. Put your arms on either side of your torso. Tense your toes for ten seconds, and then relax them completely. Gradually, work your way from your toes to your head, tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body.
- By learning to relax, you can improve communication with your horse.
- Progressive relaxation can help reduce anxiety after a fall.
Do strength training to improve your confidence.Although you may not be ready to get back on your horse yet, you can prepare by doing some strength training. Work on strengthening your core muscles and legs, so that you feel strong and confident when you get back on your steed!
Visualize yourself doing what you should have been doing on the ride.Ask your trainer for advice on how you could have avoided falling off the horse. If your fall was partly due to a technical mistake, you may benefit from visualizing yourself performing the riding skill correctly. However, you should only use visualization if you know specifically what you could have done to ride better and avoid the fall.
- If you know what went wrong but not how to fix it, you should skip visualization.
- Don’t try to visualize yourself “not” doing whatever went wrong, since it is very hard for your brain to process a negative visualization.
Sign up for a class on how to fall gracefully.One way to get over a fear of riding again is to practice falling. Once you are completely recovered from the fall, you might want to sign up for a class on how to properly fall off a horse. You’ll learn how to bend properly, keep your head tucked in, properly absorb the impact, and avoid injury to the head and neck.
- See if your local equestrian center has an upcoming workshop on how to fall off a horse.
Monitor your physical health.Although you may be eager to get back in the saddle, give yourself time to heal properly. Don’t ignore minor physical injuries, such as sprained ankles and contusions. Keep an eye out for any signs of a head injury. If you experience any symptoms of a concussion or other serious injury, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a concussion or head injury include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of balance
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to sound
- Mood changes
- Strange sleep patterns
QuestionI just fell off yesterday. I have a headache and I'm not as focused as usual. I have some nausea and ringing in my ears. What could this be?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may have a concussion, you should go to the doctor or emergency room as soon as possible.Thanks!
QuestionCan a horse fall while jumping, and will it hurt the rider?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. A horse can trip and fall while jumping over a fence, and it can hurt the rider badly.Thanks!
- Try to roll when you fall off, as you are falling, tuck your head, this can help protect your head and neck from serious injury.
- When you fall off, it is important to get back on if uninjured. This helps to boost your confidence, and let your horse know that throwing you off is not a way for them to get the ride to end.
- Give your itinerary to someone before leaving
- Always bring a first aid kit
- Take emergency phone numbers with you on your ride
- If your fall was serious enough to knock your helmet hard, you will need to replace it. The helmet's integrity could be compromised to the point where it won't protect you after the fall.
- Always wear your riding gear.
- For English riding, remember your riding pants, boots, half chaps, and a helmet.
- For Western riding, remember your stout denim jeans, boots, long sleeved shirt, and hat.
- If a horse is too much for you, don't be afraid to admit it. It's far better to tell a stable hand or your teacher that you and the horse won't get along than it is to pick yourself up and walk back to the barn after a fall.
- Try to assess why you fell off the horse so that you don’t make the same mistake again.
- Double-check the quality of all your gear before riding to prevent anything from breaking while you’re out.
- Consider a crash vest to help protect your spine and neck if you do fall.
- Don’t attempt advanced moves on a difficult horse in your first month of lessons.
- Avoid falling by choosing a horse that matches your skill level.
- Never have the reins wrapped around your hands in case you do fall off, as they could break your hands or fingers.
- Don’t remove a helmet after falling off a horse.
- Don’t try to move after falling off a horse.
- Horse riding is inherently dangerous so you should acknowledge the risks before riding a horse. In some countries, like the UK, you are limited in your ability to sue after falling off a horse, because of the inherent risks of this activity.
Video: Helping Someone Up after a Fall
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