Falling Off, For Nerds - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Falling Off, For Nerds

Recent fun discussions on Why I Gotta Trot and Krones & Kodgers aka 60's or Thereabouts resulted in this piece.

To Isaac Newton, with love.

Just a little aside about falling off horses.



Using Newtonian physics, we can break down the fall into a horizontal component and a vertical component.

Horizontally, the rider continues in the direction taken at parting from the horse. In the absence of atmospheric friction and gravity, the rider would continue at the same speed and in the same direction indefinitely, or until another force was applied.

Of course, real-life riders have to contend with both atmospheric friction, and gravity. So, in the horizontal component of the fall, the rider is actually decelerating because of atmospheric friction. How much depends on headwinds, tailwinds and atmospheric pressure, which in turn is affected by altitude. It also depends on the surface area of the leading edge of the rider, and the surface characteristics of the rider's attire - lycra is bad for slowing down, fluffy microfibre much better.

In the vertical component of the fall, the rider is accelerating towards the ground at 9.8m per second per second, less the braking effected by atmospheric friction, as already discussed above. Use might be made of a parachute to increase the braking effect of atmospheric friction, especially if there was an upwards component in the motion of the rider after parting from the horse, like this:




This is because parachutes take time to inflate, which is more generously afforded by increased distance from the ground at t=0.

Alternative options using increased surface area for more efficient friction braking include this, which also introduces an additional sideways gliding component:




We are attempting to decrease the force of the fall, which depends on the height from which we fall (Shetlands are safer than Clydesdales), the velocity acquired by the rider before parting from the horse (slipping right off the other side when attempting to mount bareback is comparatively safe, especially with a pony), the efficiency or otherwise of atmospheric friction in slowing us down (artificially increasing surface area and wearing high-friction clothing help, as does trying to fall in the direction of a headwind), the mass of the rider (F=ma, so children indeed feel it less), the elasticity of the rider as an object (children are better for this too; it helps if you can bounce, as this redirects some of the force stored temporarily as elastic potential energy into kinetic energy), the landing terrain characteristics (elastic? rigid? crumply? ... a deep bed of autumn leaves is ideal, as is a deep layer of soft fluffy snow - I can thoroughly recommend the latter from personal experience), etc.

One more important concept from classical mechanics that can help us here is that we can spread out the impact force over a longer time interval, and absorb shock in other materials, if we want to have a better experience. This is why we have crumple zones in cars, or crash helmets lined with crushable materials - to absorb the shock. We've already seen a bit of this when discussing landing terrain characteristics; now we can apply it to rider surface characteristics. In harness and TB racing, people now wear body armour vests to help protect them in falls:




This one looks more heavy-duty:




This one is inflatable:




This one is traditional, but doesn't have good crumple zones, as it was really designed for another purpose:




And this is a Cyberman:



Just thought I'd throw that one in!

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post #2 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 08:19 PM
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I love this post, SueC!!

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post #3 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 09:00 PM
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As usual, it's the high rate of deceleration that causes the pain, so the more you can control your deceleration ("tuck and roll" vs. "stretch and brace" or "plonk"), the smaller the stress forces on your body.

The model breaks down if one foot remains lodged in the stirrup, so an extension is required, as friction will no longer be negligible. In particular, we are dealing with sliding friction, which creates a force which seeks to cause your body to stop moving against the ground. Most likely, it will be overcome easily by the horse, especially if it is frightened. In any case, the sliding friction forces will cause a stress on your body, to which it will respond by being strained: simply speaking, it will cause your body, especially the tissue in the leg remaining in the stirrup and in contact with the ground, to deform. This can lead to catastrophic failure of the material.

A further complication can occur if parts of your body get entangled in an object, such as a rock. This will result in another collision (after your initial collision with the planet) and a commensurate transfer of momentum. The rock, as well as you, will experience a change in velocity which makes the sum of the momenta (mass times velocity) before the collision equal to the sum of the momenta after. But what is a change in velocity? Acceleration. And what causes a mass to accelerate? A force. To make a long story short, either you will flick the rock out of the way, or the rock will flick you out of the way - that is in the case of an elastic collision (pool balls, skull, etc.). It is more likely that, again, the force on you will cause a strain (deformation) of your body, which is how you rupture your internal organs.

Unless your ankle already suffered catastrophic failure, or you degloved your foot (flip-flops). Then the sliding friction will bring you to a halt quickly and you can avoid further injury.
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post #4 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
The model breaks down if one foot remains lodged in the stirrup, so an extension is required, as friction will no longer be negligible.
This one was enlightening to me...I've always heard to wear boots with a heel for stirrup safety, etc., but this guy got caught between the stirrup leathers.
Somehow he got off with a concussion. (Edit: correction, he did break his collarbone and coccyx too).
'I thought this was it': Horrifying moment jockey was knocked out and dragged 200 yards by his horse | Daily Mail Online
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post #5 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SueC View Post


I suspect this outfit would actually work as a great falling preventative for me with my horses - as none would let me get close enough to even mount!



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post #6 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 10:59 PM
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I suspect this outfit would actually work as a great falling preventative for me with my horses - as none would let me get close enough to even mount!

This is the riding outfit I have been yearning for without knowing it. Next time my pony tosses me to the invisible horse-eating monster I am going to fly after his tail...wont he be surprised
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post #7 of 53 Old 05-04-2018, 11:06 PM
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I have found in practice that maximum protection to internal organs when the abrupt force encountered with the impact of sudden deceleration following the acceleration due to the departure from the saddle is achieved by maintaining an adequate layer of adipose tissue over the abdomen. (aka beer gut) The sacral and pelvic bones can also be protected by maintaining similar layers of adipose tissue over the gluteal muscles.

On the other hand, since force = mass X acceleration, there is the possibility that the increase in mass that said adipose tissue adds may increase the actual force applied to the falling object (aka you) and effectively negate the advantage of said adipose tissue.

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post #8 of 53 Old 05-05-2018, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
This one was enlightening to me...I've always heard to wear boots with a heel for stirrup safety, etc., but this guy got caught between the stirrup leathers.
Somehow he got off with a concussion. (Edit: correction, he did break his collarbone and coccyx too).
'I thought this was it': Horrifying moment jockey was knocked out and dragged 200 yards by his horse | Daily Mail Online
Man! That's a bad thing to happen! Amazing he got away with relatively light injuries...


Quote:
Originally Posted by phantomhorse13 View Post



I suspect this outfit would actually work as a great falling preventative for me with my horses - as none would let me get close enough to even mount!

I was going to say, "And this outfit comes in a range of colours to suit a range of personalities." But I'm pretty sure that's totally academic when I'm talking to you, because I'm pretty sure you'd go for a nice shade of red!


Quote:
Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
This is the riding outfit I have been yearning for without knowing it. Next time my pony tosses me to the invisible horse-eating monster I am going to fly after his tail...wont he be surprised
And once you get hold of that tail (albeit with your teeth), that'd be a new form of hang-gliding, surely! I can just imagine it!

What colour for you, AnitaAnne? Or will that be a range of colours to go with different saddles in your extensive collection?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
I have found in practice that maximum protection to internal organs when the abrupt force encountered with the impact of sudden deceleration following the acceleration due to the departure from the saddle is achieved by maintaining an adequate layer of adipose tissue over the abdomen. (aka beer gut) The sacral and pelvic bones can also be protected by maintaining similar layers of adipose tissue over the gluteal muscles.

On the other hand, since force = mass X acceleration, there is the possibility that the increase in mass that said adipose tissue adds may increase the actual force applied to the falling object (aka you) and effectively negate the advantage of said adipose tissue.
Excellent, Celeste!!! You can be my drinking buddy for nerd talk anytime. Will you have cider? Perhaps perry - as pear cider is very smooth? Or fresh cow's milk?

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post #9 of 53 Old 05-05-2018, 03:33 AM
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And this is why I hate physics

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post #10 of 53 Old 05-05-2018, 01:34 PM
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To all of the above. Now we need a thread that discusses the actual amount of rise a horse achieves when throwing a rider out of the saddle vs the perceived amount of rise.....

The backstory to that being my child was asked to ride my draft mare that has been on extended holiday due to my time restraints (two jobs that somehow merged into one at triple the hours I originally signed on for either). He very happily took her out thinking he would be off on the trails and jumping a log or two. I insisted on a warm up in the pen. She decided to show her displeasure at being ridden even after begging to be haltered and taken out, groomed extensively and even attempting to help saddle herself. She showed this displeasure with not even 1 foot of rise in a half hearted crow hop. He swore her back legs came above his head and now he's set for the rodeo riding championships. I had video to back me up. I hate to see what he thinks he'll have jumped when in reality the logs around here are 2 foot max. I have taken her over 5 foot fences and felt like we cleared the Empire State Building.

Last edited by QtrBel; 05-05-2018 at 01:46 PM.
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