Riding is a risky business, and falling off an occupational hazard, but thanks to a new equine simulator, riders can learn how to deal with a common type
of fall as safely as possible. The British Racing School (BRS) has the UK’s first Equichute, which reproduces a ‘front door’ fall over the horse’s head with the aim of getting riders to instinctively roll as they fall, with head tucked in and dominant arm extended across the body. Before trying the simulator, trainees do exercises you can try at home – add in your skull cap and body protector once you’re comfortable.
Only try these exercises if you’re fit and well, and always practise on a gym mat or other suitable surface, with plenty
of room. Stop if you experience any pain. If in any doubt about your ability, consult your doctor first.
1. Practise forward rolls Falling off generally means being upside down, which can be confusing, but getting used to this sensation means you’re better able to influence how you fall.
2. Eliminate hesitation Once you’ve mastered forward rolls, work to make it instinctive by walking into them – stride purposefully forward and just flow into it. Getting rid of any pause can mean the difference between landing face first and falling safely.
3. Get friendly with an exercise ball Try rolling over an exercise ball in the position you’ll be trying to adopt when falling. Kneel down in front of the ball then drape your body over the top. Curve your dominant arm out and around the ball and tuck your head down in the opposite direction, curving your back. Push yourself up and over – once you’ve got the hang of this, try walking up to the ball, dropping into position and rolling over.
4. Try a judo throw Assume the position you’ve been practising with the ball, with your arm extended out and across your body with your head tucked in, and go straight into a forward roll. This uses the same principles as judo. At first it feels like you’re just throwing yourself upside down, but it helps convince your brain the action is less scary than it thought and makes you less likely to panic.