Horse riding is a type of sports that has the highest risk of serious injury and fatality compared with other extreme sports. Approximately 80% of equestrian related injuries happen while riding while the remaining 20% occur during horse handling activities (such as feeding, grooming, leading) and unrelated activities such as being in the vicinity of a horse.
The major cause of equestrian injury is falling from a horse which makes up approximately 80% of the reported cases. This is followed by horse kicks or crushing injuries inflicted by a horse. Most of the serious injuries and even cause of death in horse riders is from head injury resulting from a fall from the horse. Lesser injuries are joint sprains, fractures (mainly to the arm), abrasions (particularly to the face), cuts and bruises.
They say prevention is better than cure. This is particularly true when it comes to horse riding. With the higher risk that you put yourself into, it’s important that you take precautionary measure while within the vicinity and on your horse.
Below are some of the tips that you must take note to prevent injuries from horse riding.
Select the Right Horse for You
Choosing an appropriate horse for you is your first step of safety. You can’t just simply point your finger to the one that you’re attracted the most.
Select a horse that matches your age, size, experience and skills. For novice riders, choosing older horses is a smart choice as they are often more predictable and quieter. Selecting the right horse for you could be pretty challenging and overwhelming especially if it’s your first time, so it’s important that you seek an advice from an experienced rider.
Being compatible with your horse does not just only give you a better performance. More importantly, riding on the right horse will give you a safer and more relaxed experience.
Handle the Horse with Respect and Care
Horses are sensitive animals. They can sense your mood as well as impending threats.
When dealing with your horse, it’s important that you treat them with care and respect. Treat them like they are your dear friend. Talk to them in a calm voice and never do anything that could trigger a negative reaction from your horse. Avoid making sudden movements or raising your voice.
The horse’s hind legs are designed for kicking so always exercise caution. Don’t sneak up on a horse; always approach them from the front. When handling reins and ropes, make sure that you handle them well in a manner that you avoid loops that could trap your fingers.
Keep children away from horses. They should never be near or in the vicinity of the horses.
Novice Riders Should be Supervised at All Times
Children and novice riders should not go around the stable unsupervised. There should be an experienced rider that accompany you all the time when you are riding. A lot of things could happen in the stable and you don’t want to be caught in an unexpected situation alone.
Aside from being supervised, another effective method of avoiding injury is through education. Enroll yourself in riding lessons to know the basics of horse riding. Having knowledge about horse riding is a powerful tool to avoid possible injuries.
Head injury is one of the most serious and fatal injuries that are caused by horse riding.
We may not have control over everything and accidents may happen when we least expect it, but we have full control of our behavior. By wearing safety helmet whenever you’re riding, you lessen your risk of head injury and many horse riding related deaths.
It’s not enough that you wear any helmet though. Make sure that the helmet that you’re wearing is compliant with the current safety standards. They should either be collapsible or has no peak. Your helmet should be fastened securely all the time.
Children should also wear helmet when they are around horses. A kick to small head can lead to severe head injuries and even fatality.
Click here to learn how to choose a safe riding helmet.
Wear Riding Equipment of Good Quality
Have you ever seen a warrior going to war without a shield and armor?
Going horse riding without safe riding equipment is like going to a war empty-handed.
Invest in good quality riding equipment to increase your safety.
- Your feet are easily crushed by the weight of your horse. Whenever you’re in the vicinity of your horse, always wear sturdy boots.
- Wear riding boots that are smooth soled, heeled, elastic-sided or long when you’re mounting.
- Your stirrups should be 2-3cm wider than your boot. Novice riders and children should have safety stirrups.
- Regularly check your saddle, reins and other horse tack.
- Carry out maintenance whenever needed.
- Competitive riders should wear body protectors to reduce the severity of soft tissue injuries.
- Wear knee pads and face guards, especially if you are a polo player.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands.
Learn How to Fall Off Your Horse
You can minimize your chance of getting hurt by learning how to fall off your horse. It’s an art that you need to learn if you want to lower your risk of being hurt or injured. Learning how to fall off your horse is as important as learning how to get a clean flying change or how to sit the trot properly.
If you fall, never hold onto the reins. Holding on could cause you to dislocate your shoulder. Another thing that you must remember when you fall is to roll away from your horse. Your horse will either be getting up or running away so keep your distance from him if you don’t want him to step or fall on you.
When you become unseated, do not stick out your arms or legs. If you try to break your fall, its odds on that all you’ll break is your bone.
Safety is critical in horse riding. Click here to learn more safety tips.