How to Fall Off a Horse

“Don’t jam yourself into the ground like a lawn dart,” says Austin Anderson, a trick rider and horse stuntman from Troup, Tex. You’ll have a few fractions of a second in the air before you land; use them to protect yourself by tucking your chin to your chest and preparing to roll, which will increase your deceleration time and distribute the force of the impact over more of your body.

“Your priority should be protecting your head and neck,” says Anderson, who estimates that he has fallen from horses 150 times since he started performing at age 4. Many training courses on how to fall off a horse encourage riders to be careful about breaking their descent with their arms, but Anderson says that if you’re going down head first, you should use your arms as a bumperlike “crumple zone”: A broken wrist is better than brain trauma. Researchers have found that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by as much as half, but fewer than a quarter of riders wear them, including Anderson, who opts for a cowboy hat instead.

In his stunt work, Anderson is usually being paid to look as though he has been shot off his horse, which means he needs to tumble in an uncontrolled, limbs-akimbo way and often land directly on his back or belly. For this type of fall, wear a protective vest and prepare the ground ahead of time by removing rocks and laying down sand or peat moss to make for a softer landing.

If you ride horses enough, you will eventually fall off; equestrians are admitted to the hospital at a rate of about once per 2,000 hours of riding, which is more than motorcyclists. Horse riders suffer higher rates of severe brain and body injuries than skiers, automobile racers and rugby and football players combined. Anderson has spent much of his life atop horses; he can ride standing with a foot planted on the back of two steeds galloping side by side. No matter how comfortable you are, though, horses are powerful animals: Some can weigh thousands of pounds; some can run 40 miles per hour. In comparison, you are slow and fragile — eminently breakable, really. “When you’re young, you recover easier,” says Anderson, who is 49. “But as you get older, you end up paying for those falls.”

 

reposted from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/magazine/how-to-fall-off-a-horse.html

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