In any sports-related hobby, painful injuries are bound to happen. The same thing goes for horseback riding—while it is great exercise and in some ways, a stress reliever, you can also suffer from serious injuries if you aren’t careful.
However, you shouldn’t let the fear of hurting yourself stop you from doing what you love. Whether you’re a rookie or an expert, the trick is to take necessary precautions and to build up your riding skills slowly but surely.
To help you out, we’ve listed common accidents that can happen when you’re out in the field and how you can stop them—or find a way to minimize its impact on your body. Learn more below:
In this article, we will talk about:
In this article, we will talk about:
- What Are The Most Common Horse Riding Injuries?
- How To Protect Your Head & Neck
- How To Protect Your Spine & Waist
- How To Protect Your Hands & Arms
- How To Protect Your Legs, Angles & Feet
- Basic Safety For Young Riders
- General Safety Measures For All Riders
What Are The Most Common Injuries In Horseback Riding?
Horses are flight animals by nature. When surprised or threatened, they are most likely going to run away from any noise or movement. Anything unexpected that you may encounter while out on a ride, be it a squirrel crossing or a tree branch falling, may cause unfortunate injuries.
A few things that may happen to you if you happen to fall or get thrown off your horse include:
- Hitting your head on a heavy bark, rocks or the ground may cause a concussion
- Severe ankle or leg damage if you wrongly land on your feet as you crash
- If you fall with an outstretched hand, you may experience rope burn or a twisted wrist
- Muscle seizure from incorrect handling of the horse while trying to break your fall
- The horse might kick you if you happen to land behind it as it’s still reacting to external triggers
This is why the first and most important tip in horse riding is to stay alert and be prepared to respond quickly. Always prioritize your safety and if you happen to have fallen already, try to move away from the horse as soon as possible.
How Do You Prevent Head Injuries?
While we cannot prevent all injuries, we want to make sure to avoid any and all damage that can affect your head. Concussions are hard to recover from while deep cuts may result in permanent brain damage. Keep your head safe with these tips:
- This might seem like a no brainer, but all riders should always wear horseback riding helmets that meet proper safety standards. Make sure it fits you well so it is able to protect you properly—there will be fewer chances of it flying off if you meet an accident.
- Keep your head straight while riding to maintain balance. Avoid moving your head back and forth or side to side to keep your vision aligned.
How Do You Avoid Waist & Spine Damage?
Another major area to protect is your waist and your back. If your spine takes a hit, it might also lead to brain damage so it is best to follow all safety protocols surrounding it. Protect it with these tips:
- Check if your riding gear is appropriate to your size and are properly adjusted. Saddles, stirrups, girth straps, and reins fall under this category and they should be securely fastened before going on a ride.
- For beginners, you can also try wearing protective vests to reduce the impact of a fall. You can transition out of it once you’ve gained more riding experience.
How Do You Protect Your Hands & Arms?
Hands and arms are beaten up the most—in practice or in case of an accident—since it does the bulk of the work. Keep them in tip-top shape by doing the following:
- Check all your riding equipment if no sharp edges are sticking out that may cause unnecessary scratches or cuts. It’s also best to inspect your ropes and whips if they need replacement.
- If you are giving the horse a treat on a break, be sure to keep your hand open and your fingers extended. Horses can inadvertently bite and break fingers that are holding out food for them.
How Do You Avoid Dislocating Your Ankles?
You might be thinking that it’s unlikely for you to injure your feet since they are only hanging low on a ride. This is where you’re mistaken because you can easily trip when mounting or going down your animal. Check out these tips to prevent this from happening:
- Wear properly-fitted, sturdy leather boots with a low heel. This will make it easier for you to stay balanced and avoid tripping.
- Keep your feet on the stirrups to avoid unnecessary movement. Unless you are a pro performing tricks for a show, it’s best to avoid taking your feet off of them.
- Be careful when you unmount from the horse. If you are on the shorter side, try asking for the help of a pro for a secure landing.
Safety Tips For Novice Riders and Little Ones
Starting the young ones early? That’s awesome—the earlier you begin, the better you get as you grow older. Keep them injury-free with these kid-friendly guidelines:
- Children and novice riders should consider using safety stirrups that break away if a rider falls off the horse.
- Novice riders should take lessons from experienced instructors.
- Young horseback riders should always be supervised.
- Amateurs should ride on open, flat terrain, or in monitored riding arenas.
General Safety Tips for Riding
Now that you know how to keep specific parts of your body safe, it’s time to learn more about how to keep you out of harm’s way with every ride!
- Your clothing should be comfortable and not too loose to allow you to move properly. Tight outfits might be harder to move in, while loose shirts might get tangled up with your tack.
- Jumps and stunts require a higher level of riding skill. Do not attempt these without supervision or proper instruction from a pro.
- If you feel yourself falling from a horse, try to roll to the side (away from the horse) when you hit the ground. Move away from the animal immediately.
- When trail riding, do not go off the trail no matter how tempting. Heed warning signs and stay near where help is available, especially if you are a beginner.
- Never walk behind a horse. It is best to approach them at their shoulder. This is less threatening to them and it will keep them from reacting violently.
- Don’t ride a horse when you are tired, taking medications, or under the influence of alcohol. You need all your senses to work well when riding a sensitive animal.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Apart from putting these guidelines into practice, the only thing left to do is ride as much as you can and enjoy it! Riding may come with risks, but the high you get from a weekend adventure or winning a show with your four-legged partner-in-crime is priceless.