Riders sometimes fall off – fact. But did you know there’s a technique to help keep you safe when it happens?
Trainer and stunt rider Karl Greenwood explains: “There’s a definite position to take as you bale out or fall off. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to think about what’s going on, just getting your arms in the right position will really help.”
- Cross your arms over your chest, with hands on opposite shoulders. It should feel like you’re giving yourself a hug. Hold tight.
- Keep your hands flat – making a fist could lead to broken knuckles as they hit the ground.
- Get your feet out of the stirrups, point your toes and straighten your knees.
- Drop the reins – don’t hang on to your horse as the risk of being dragged or trampled is too great. Your aim is to get as clear as you can.
- Once you’ve hit the floor and you’re rolling, keep rolling until you stop naturally.
- Changing how we do things is hard, but the falling off position needs to become second nature. Practice by rolling off the sofa or bed onto some cushions. The technique is always the same, whatever size or type of horse you’re riding and whatever situation you find yourself in.
- After you’ve stopped rolling, give yourself a quick check over, then get back on. Learn from it, then let go of the emotion.
- Use safety stirrups, which will free your foot quickly in a fall.
- Wear boots designed for riding – a narrow, smooth sole with a small heel. Chunkier styles of boot can easily get lodged in the stirrup.
- Clean your tack regularly so that the stirrup leathers are supple, enabling them to be pulled from the saddle easily. If the stirrup bar is too tight, ask your saddler to adjust it.
- Make sure that your stirrups are wide enough so that your foot slips out easily.
- Don’t use equipment for the sake of it. Know why you are choosing it.
- Always wear a riding hat and ideally a body protector. Air jackets may be worth considering too.
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