Falling off a horse....on my butt. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Falling off a horse....on my butt.

I fell off a horse for the first time today. He did a nervous/excited little jump/buck due to a variety of circumstances that could really be a tangent.

Anyway, I know with every activity there comes a certain amount of risk. For me, in every activity I do, I have a phobia of injury. For example, I get anxious throughout my cross country running season that I'll hurt my knee or something. But, my love for running is greater than my fear of injury, although that does not stop that very real fear.

In this situation, my insane love for horses is greater than my fear of getting hurt. But honestly, how often do you guys fall off of your horses? Don't worry because my trainer and I used that opportunity of the horse going crazy as a training opportunity to work through the issues the horse was having at that moment and I was wearing a helmet.

However, I am left with a very bruised butt that makes it sore for me to walk--and probably will be for a few days--and now that the adrenaline has worn off, I'm starting to get fearful of getting back on the horse.

Advice from all you more experienced riders out there?
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post #2 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 12:58 AM
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First off, I am glad you are not seriously hurt.

As for your first question, the last time I "fell" off a horse was a just little while ago. I was riding bareback and kind of... just... slipped off....
For the last time I actually fell was a few months ago, back in the spring/summer. I asked my horse to go right around a bush (a bush we went by a 100 times before) and she said "no" - very loudly. She 180ed, bolted, then dead-stopped. I went "over the handlebars." I wasn't scared to get back on her. No. I was ****ed. I got back on her, made her pull her head out, and made her go right around that bush, like, ten times.

Unfortunately, I am unable to help with your second question.

There is only one time I can recall that I was scared to get back on.
We were cantering and she lost her footing. She slipped and fell down. She was fine since the ground was so soft, but I was terrified on getting back on her because I blamed myself for what happened (or what could have happened), even though nothing really "happened" (in terms of injuries). I hand-walked her around for a few minutes. Got back on and rode, at a walk, for, like, two minutes. Then, got off, hand-walked her to cool her out, and put her out to pasture. I rode her again, but I didn't canter her for about two months. When we finally did canter, she seemed okay. Picked up the canter fine and stayed in the canter fine. I haven't had any problems (in terms of fear) cantering her since then.
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Last edited by α CMa; 12-10-2018 at 01:06 AM.
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post #3 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 01:15 AM
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As someone who also struggles with fear, I hear you!

There is always a chance of falling off. However, you can greatly decrease your risks by the types of horses you ride and the types of riding you do. For instance, riding a green horse, or a spooky horse, or going fast increases your chances of getting hurt. If you stick to a steady horse, which is well trained and trustworthy, and don't go anything wild and crazy before you are ready, that diminishes your risks a lot.

To answer your question about how many times I tend to fall off. Well, of my steady horses, rarely, hardly ever! My greener, spookier horse, maybe once a year. That is with a saddle. If I rode bareback or just in a bareback pad, I would expect to do "unscheduled dismounts" fairly often. But when you are riding that way you are improving your balance and have to be willing to slide off here and there because you know there is nothing to really help you stay on. But in a saddle, I really try to stay on 99.9% of the time and maybe come off once a year if the horse I'm riding spooks. I am NOT fearless so I try not to take chances. I don't canter much and I don't jump or anything. Just (hopefully) peaceful trail rides.

The only way I know to get over riding fear is to go back a step and get into your comfort zone. So that may mean just doing what you ARE comfortable with, and as you gain more positive experiences your brain sort of writes over the bad memories with the good. And then as you regain your confidence, hopefully you will get back to where you were and then make progress forward again. That's why they always say to get back on the horse after a fall.......the longer you stay off the horse after a fall, the more your mind builds up anxiety and fear.

There is definitely a learning curve when learning to ride. I remember my first fall off my first horse. He spooked at someone riding a bicycle and spun around and bolted away. He lost me on that one! But I've rode out a TON of spooks since then. There is always a chance you will fall. But your reflexes get better and you learn how to read the horse better too which can allow you prevent or stop spooks before you come off.
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post #4 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 09:19 AM
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There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that other people's fall statistics isn't even a bit transferable to you. The good news is, a lot of risk factors for falling off are under your control:

- The personality of the horse you ride, relative to your skills
- The training level of the horse you ride, relative to your skills
- The activities you undertake with your horse, relative to your skills
- Stuff happens

The last part is no different than slipping on the ice when walking somewhere or getting rear-ended in traffic.

I never got injured because I got on a horse I shouldn't have got on or because I attempted to do something I shouldn't have. I once got a really bad bruise when my horse tripped while I was in two-point and I came down on the pommel, and once my knee got caught in a fence post during a hop over a log - before a gallop. I fell a few more times, but without getting hurt. (By that I mean: no ER visit, and no ibuprofen for dinner.) In fact, compared to my other falls, I got hurt more getting snagged by thorns in a canter... :)

If it's too bad, don't force yourself to get on the horse. Just hang out with the horse and do pleasurable things until you feel like getting back on. Some butterflies are okay, but you don't want to make the horse nervous with your fear - that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, the best preventative tool for falling off is seat time! :)

Last edited by tinyliny; 12-10-2018 at 01:54 PM.
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post #5 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 10:51 AM
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In 10 years, I haven't come off a horse I wasn't trying to come off. A few months after I started riding, my horse bolted, I got her stopped, tried to dismount, and she exploded halfway thru the dismount. Landed back first on a small rock and had to give up jogging for 8-9 years. One of my lessons was that a 50+ year old guy could not afford to fall very often, particularly when riding on pavement and in the Sonoran desert.

I switched from an English to an Australian saddle after that fall. She wasn't a bucker, but she did a lot of bolts and her startle reaction was a violent spin...180 degrees, or a 360, or sometimes two 360s. The design of an Australian saddle, IMHO, helps a lot on a horse who spins, or who does a "turn & burn": turning 180, then lighting the afterburners and racing away. The poleys keep your hips aligned with the horse's spine as she spins. That helps enormously with staying on. The horse, the saddle & me during a quiet moment:

I credit the saddle with keeping me alive long enough to learn a few things. Later went to a western saddle. I used this one:

Discovered a slick seat saddle with a slick fork allows the rider to slide around like a soda can in the back of a pickup, so added sheepskin - which is like butt velcro:

Swapped horses - the mare is now a brood mare in northern Arizona with a couple of foals - and also switched to an Abetta saddle. Cordura nylon is much grippier than smooth leather.

This horse spooked a lot when I first got him. Huge difference between the open country of the Navajo Nation and the Sonoran desert. But he's fundamentally sane. With experience, he rarely spooks any more, and then it is just a sideways motion instead of a turn & burn. My bum won't slide across the Abetta. That helps a lot. This horse used to buck, but the bucking has become much milder and much rarer as he has learned more productive ways of telling me he has a problem.

I try to practice some freestyle regularly, where my horse gets to choose when we turn and how tight. Like others have mentioned, balance is something that comes with time. Learning to read your horse, letting your horse learn productive ways of telling you he has a problem, learning to recognize when something is beyond what you & your horse are ready to try...it is all a part of learning to ride. That is probably the most important part of staying on: learning to work with your horse so the horse won't feel a need to explode or defend himself. But it is hard to learn that without first experiencing a few explosions. That is where I think good saddles can help. And a defensive position.

In terms of position and balance, one can find a lot to think about by watching cutting horses - and the folks who stay on them! It is like watching someone riding a horse who spooks a hundred times in a few minutes... Some good advice in the commentary, too!
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post #6 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 11:09 AM
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Also, here are some statistics on riding injuries. Because riding is a vast sport, with lots of different activities, riders, goals, horses, etc, the statistics are varied. I think it shows riding doesn't need to be high risk, although SOME risk has to be accepted. I'll also add that I've slammed into the ground far more often while working on my feet near a horse than while riding.

A collection of horse riding injury statistics

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #7 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 12:36 PM
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I think the amount you fall and the severity of it depends a lot on what horse you're riding, and how experienced you are with handling spooks/bucks/rears/etc.

Someone could have ridden a perfect horse for 10 years and not really be able to stay on for the thrills because they've never had to. Or, you could have someone who's ridden for a couple years but has been riding more spirited horses and has learned to stay on better. Of course, sometimes it's near impossible to stay on because it took you by surprise, or your horse has decided to be a rodeo star, or any number of reasons.

I also feel like horse riding is inherently more dangerous than a lot of other sports because you're relying on a prey animal that thinks on its own.

When I first started riding my mare, I probably fell off more in two months than I had in my whole six years of riding beforehand. And that was because she was much more spirited than any horse I had ever been on so I lacked the knowledge and muscles to stay on when she spooked or bucked or refused a jump.

Since I've started riding her, I've learned how to stay on much better. Sometimes it's because I'm aware that she could do something (spook at something, refuse a jump), so I'm prepared enough to expect it. Other times, I've just gotten more leg strength and have been able to think quickly when something does happen. For example, a month or so ago, my horse decided to let out a huge buck, bigger than she's probably ever done before. Because I'm used to her antics, I was able to stay in the saddle and keep riding like it didn't happen.

The last time I fell off was because I was attempting a lead change in a small arena, and when I put my weight in the saddle, the saddle started slipping, spooking her, and since I was sideways (and I am not a trick rider) I fell off. The last time I fell off because of something she did (which was still my fault) was back in March and she refused a jump. I've only really fallen twice this year! Not including me being an idiot bareback and kinda just sliding off... twice.

All that being said, I've never actually hurt myself from falling (knock on wood!). Never broken a bone, had stitches, or anything more than a cut or bruise (and lots of soreness). I've never had to go to the doctor because of a fall. I have no idea why that is since I'm one of the least coordinated people on this planet, but I am not complaining.

Your first fall I think is always scary. Try not to worry too much about falling. It will probably happen again, but don't worry about it until it's happening or else you'll not enjoy riding as much. Have fun, relax, and don't do anything too crazy. Just wear a helmet, always. Also, triple check your girth before you get on
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post #8 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 02:01 PM
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There is NO surefire way to prevent falls. None, if you ride a horse.

Like others have said, you pick and choose things that increase the likelihood of NOT falling. Like riding a quiet horse, increasing your own skill at staying on, wear breeches with some kind of sticky material under you leg and seat.

I've fallen a lot, though not much in recent years. That's because I don't ride very much at speed or in a demanding way. I wear my 'sticky pants' most of the time.

Lastly, in many cases, when the horse bucks or whirls or spooks , and you start to get off balance, if in that instant you COMMIT internally to staying on . . . . . you will. If you go, "oh no, I'm falling off!" . . . you will.
So, if you start to go off, say this . . "Oh no you don't! I'm NOT going off!" . .. . and you won't.

Most of the time. When you do fall, it's usually not life threatening. you will be sore for a few days, and anxious about a repeat, and after a week or two, you'll be back where you were. maybe longer if the fall was particularly scary.

there is no other way but to accept it and go on. Or, quit.
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post #9 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LarsonGr1 View Post
But honestly, how often do you guys fall off of your horses?

Advice from all you more experienced riders out there?

I'm glad you were not seriously hurt.

I always say it's not a matter of *if* you fall off; it's a matter of WHEN. Of course, it also depends what a person is doing and what type of horses a person is riding.

I've been riding horses for 30 years. Yeah, I've fallen off, although I really prefer not to. Knock on wood so I don't jinx myself, the last time I fell off was 5 years ago when I was putting my 5th ride on Shotgun. And that one was probably more of a subconsious "bail" that a real fall. I put us into a bad situation and it was 100% my fault, so I think my mind kinda told my body to get off him and get out of the way, LOL.

It probably does help that I grew up riding horses as a kid (no fear) and developed a good seat along the way. There's been plenty of times I probably should have fallen off, and don't really know how I stayed on, but did. The body and muscles just kind of go on auto-pilot and do what it takes to stay on.

Actually, I lied. I forgot I "fell" off Shotgun 3 years ago too. My mom and I were out riding and I walked him over a piece of cardboard that was lying in the ditch, just as a random object to walk across. Well I guess (my mom said) his back foot caught it a little bit and it scared him and he jumped straight up in the air, and then just stood there. He had launched me so far forward , that even though my butt was technically still in the saddle, I was just leaning too far ahead to pull myself back into the saddle. It was slow motion for me. I realized I couldn't pull myself back up, even though he was just standing there, so I very ungracefully dismounted onto my feet and then fell onto my butt. We did laugh a bit about that one.
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It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #10 of 18 Old 12-10-2018, 04:26 PM
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I once "feel off" when trying to mount an Icelandic, from a mounting block. I just put in too much oomph, went up one side and off the other. kind of onto my head and shoulders, though, so not as funny as it sounds.
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