As riders, eventually we all hit the ground. Although there are a number of things we can do to prevent falling off, it is pretty much an inevitability if you ride seriously. Fortunately, there are ways to keep yourself from being seriously hurt when you fall off a horse. Some helpful hints:
—Wear a helmet! Using the appropriate gear can mean the difference between staying safe or getting injured.
—Check your girth before you get on. This simple tack-check can keep you from sliding underneath your horse during a ride, which is not somewhere you want to be. —When you fall, don’t put your hands out to catch yourself. You can break bones this way.
—As soon as you hit the ground curl up into a ball, making sure that you pay special attention to tucking in your head. Roll away from your horse after you hit the ground if you can. This can seriously decrease the likelihood of you getting trampled.
—Let go of the reins, they will prevent you from being able to roll away from your horse safely. Although we are concerned for the safety of the horse as well, you won’t be able to catch it if you’re injured.
—If you can, get back on! Not only for your own confidence, but for your horse’s as well. Don’t teach them that they can dump you on the ground and be done with their work. If you feel like you can’t get on it can be a good idea to have another rider get on your horse to address the problem.
I have a friend who was seriously injured after a couple of bad falls from a horse with a lot of behavioral issues. She struggled with confidence issues for about five years after the last incident, and it took her a long time to get back on. She noticed that the longer she waited, the worse the fear got. She ended up finding a horse that is better suited to her experience and abilities, and she is now riding consistently.
Don’t let something like falling off a horse prevent you from pursuing your love of the sport. Everyone falls, it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Making mistakes is how we learn and grow as riders, and it definitely builds character. We're all going to fall; it's what you take out of it that counts. Let it make you a better and more confident rider.