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View Full Version : Terrible question about falling



bip
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:02 PM
Is it a lot worse falling off an 18h horse than a 16h horse? I've only really done the former.

Now, what if it was likely you would fall off the shorter horse a few times a year (say 3-4), but would only fall off the 18h horse once in a blue moon?

I know it is vague and hypothetical, and it is terrible to ask people to think about falling, but if anyone has thoughts on the matter that they would like to share, I would greatly appreciate it.

twofatponies
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:07 PM
That's an interesting question!

Clearly you are adding 8 inches to the distance you fall.

But I would think the far more significant factors would be speed, surface you land on, body part you land on, angle you land on body part, whether horse steps on you, etc etc.

If all other things were perfectly equal, you'd have a slightly longer fall, thus be going slightly faster on impact, so it would be slightly worse.

But I think the other variables are more important and more likely to make the difference in injury.

Anyone know the physics exactly?

Thomas_1
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:08 PM
It's not the falling so much as the landing!

I strongly recommend you avoid falling from either.

If I were falling off 3 and 4 times a year I'd be reviewing very seriously what I was doing wrong.

I'd also strongly recommend it's best to be concerned and spend time thinking about how to stay on rather than what happens if you fall off.

Though learning to fall is pretty much a pre-requisite for every racehorse jockey and possibly something that might be a benefit to you if you're intent on making it a habit ;)

pony grandma
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:17 PM
It's not the falling so much as the landing!

My daughter fell off a sawhorse and broke her arm when she was 4 ... it was a short horse :D

fooler
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:19 PM
Was going down another track but here is the most important thing:
We all fall off of horses - it is a given.
Learn to:
1) Control what you can - is your horse thinking about bucking, running away, shying etc - then take the appropriate steps to get their mind back on business.
2) Once you know you are going to fall you must learn how to handle your body to lesson any injury. Danny Warrington had a great article in Practical Horseman several months ago. Talk to your trainer about emergency dismounts, learn how to tumble.

Like the old saying goes - it isn't the fall that hurts, it is the sudden impact. Remember a smaller horse is often quicker than a large horse so can often toss you more ways than a larger horse. Not always true - but something to consider.

LAZ
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:38 PM
Here you go--someone sent me this a long time ago & I'm not sure it is a comfort, but it is interesting!

http://lorienstable.com/articles/misc/buck/

JER
Jan. 2, 2010, 01:57 PM
From a trauma POV, 8" is not a significant difference in a fall from height. A fall from height meets trauma center criteria if it's 3 times your height or approximately 15'-20'. You would need a double-decker horse for that. :)

As that very cool page LAZ posted shows, the significant factor is speed. It all goes back to KE = 1/2mass x velocity^2.

But you might feel a fall off a taller horse more, or vice versa, if you're used to falling from a shorter horse, or vice versa. Chances are your falling reflexes didn't compensate for the distance.

When I started doing martial arts and getting thrown by humans, I hated it. The ground came up way too fast and I kept getting slammed into the mats. I much preferred falling from a horse -- but I eventually got used to it. :D

EventerAJ
Jan. 2, 2010, 02:12 PM
The height of the horse is only a very small part of the equation.

What are you landing on? Soft cushy sand or frozen ground and rocks? Flying over the horse's head to land on a jump?

Why did you fall? Slipping off a standing-still horse is different than getting bucked off a moving horse.

How did you land? On your head? On your butt? Were you able to tuck and roll?


Did the horse step on you? Yeah, a large horse can hurt you worse than a pony, but it just takes one well-placed hoof to do a lot of damage, regardless of size.


I don't think there is a simple answer to this question.

But I will add, if falling can ever be "fun," I got bucked off a 15h firecracker one winter. Trotting along outside, it was cold and windy, I could feel him getting tense and balled up, and knew it was coming. I tried to shorten my reins just a little more to maintain control and he took that instant to bronco-bust. He leapt 4' in the air, corkscrewed, sunfished, heels sideways over head. I distinctly remember my butt at least 2' from the saddle, no left stirrup, very much airborne off his right shoulder. In what seemed like an eternity, I weighed my options of trying to hang on vs letting go-- I realized I'd probably slip under his chest and get stepped on-- and decided bailing was the safest action. Still floating in air, I distinctly PUSHED off his neck with both hands, kicked away from his body with my right knee, and landed in a tuck and roll safely away from his feet. Between my 6 layers of clothing and the cushy snow, it felt like I landed on a foam mattress. I was on my feet immediately, only too see the silly horse still bucking like a fool and galloping madly around the field (thank goodness it was enclosed!). It's the only time I've ever smiled after falling off...not saying I want to do it again, but it was almost fun. :D

It's amazing how quickly your mind can operate sometimes. My whole recognition, thought process, and intentional flying dismount happened at the height of one buck. I know the horse had some hang-time, but it felt like an eternity!

AUeventer
Jan. 2, 2010, 02:12 PM
Can I just use your post to comment on people that have told me I need to learn how to fall properly? Tuck and roll, or whatever? I don't know about everyone else, but when I fall I usually don't know what happened until I'm on the ground. It's not like I have time to think about what the hell my body is doing while I'm in the air!

I think the height is probably not that big of a deal. My 16.1 hh bucked one time when I was in two point galloping and I was catapulted so far that I actually DID have time to think about how bad it was going to suck when I hit the rock hard ground. That fall hurt worse than just a tumble or slide off of any 18 hand horse I promise!

mishmash
Jan. 2, 2010, 02:17 PM
Velocity, and the type of surface that stops the impact is what matters. 8 inches isn't significant distance-wise, but it can be in reaction time to how you land. In other words, falling from a 17 hand horse, vs a 15 hand horse, may give you more time to contort your body to land in a less injury prone position. At least, that is what I keep telling myself....:D

RunForIt
Jan. 2, 2010, 03:26 PM
Similar to what others have and will say, its less about height of horse, than speed and how you land. I've come off 16.1 - 17 hand horses and the result has been a sore butt and/or shoulder. A week ago, almost to the minute, my little 15.1 guy got an honest fright while I was doing fitness work in very short stirrups...he bucked me off, I landed on my head, broke my neck, and miraculously am not paralyzed. But much wiser...and cannot wait to ride again!!! :D :cool:

RiverBendPol
Jan. 2, 2010, 04:15 PM
Similar to what others have and will say, its less about height of horse, than speed and how you land. I've come off 16.1 - 17 hand horses and the result has been a sore butt and/or shoulder. A week ago, almost to the minute, my little 15.1 guy got an honest fright while I was doing fitness work in very short stirrups...he bucked me off, I landed on my head, broke my neck, and miraculously am not paralyzed. But much wiser...and cannot wait to ride again!!! :D :cool:

WAIT! WHAT?????????? You have a BROKEN NECK????????? Are you KIDDING ME?????????? What about all the wine we're going to drink in Aiken in the next 2 months?

I suppose I should add I am very sorry and horrified to hear your sad story but jeeeeze!:eek::no::cool:

Hilary
Jan. 2, 2010, 04:21 PM
How/why you fall definitely makes a bigger difference than the height of the horse - Star is 15.2 and she and I have parted ways more times than I can count - 2009 marked the first year with NO falls! (and yeah, on De. 27th I had a good ride and didn't get on for the rest of the year on purpose)

The worst injury happened when the landing was very compacted bluestone and I landed on my back/side - one of those so quick I didn't know I was falling until I was on the ground.

But the other 30 or so? I know how to fall and she didn't usually plant me, but leaped out from under me so there was no additional velocity.

Soft sand in a ring is best, grass is OK if it's muddy underneath. However, I was always glad she's short!


Thomas1 - no one believes how quick my horse is until they see her pull one of her stunts. Prior to her I came off three times in 10 years.

RunForIt
Jan. 2, 2010, 04:40 PM
WAIT! WHAT?????????? You have a BROKEN NECK????????? Are you KIDDING ME?????????? What about all the wine we're going to drink in Aiken in the next 2 months?

I suppose I should add I am very sorry and horrified to hear your sad story but jeeeeze!:eek::no::cool:

I'll PM you the details...but suffice to say I WILL be in Aiken and we WILL drink the wine. Rasta is going to Lellie Ward til the end of May so half the partnership will be wintering (and springing :lol: ) in Aiken. My halo comes off the end of March...see you soon! :D :cool:

bip
Jan. 2, 2010, 04:55 PM
If I were falling off 3 and 4 times a year I'd be reviewing very seriously what I was doing wrong.

Hence, consideration of a more steady (but potentially much larger) mount.

sch1star
Jan. 2, 2010, 05:50 PM
I'd say if you have the distinct feeling you'll be coming off the taller horse less often, and the shorter horse more often, that's a strong vote for the taller horse before physics ever comes into the equation! :winkgrin:

wsmoak
Jan. 2, 2010, 06:32 PM
Hence, consideration of a more steady (but potentially much larger) mount.

When Patrick found me, his height and size was the only thing that didn't match my criteria. I really wasn't looking for something that big. I'm told he's 16.2 and I haven't measured him. I don't want to know. In addition he's rather wide.

The first time I climbed up there I was nervous, but he's such a good boy, and it turns out that there's an upside. It's kind of like riding on a table... there's horse in every direction, and you have to really *try* to fall off of him. I've only managed it once.

eventingismylife
Jan. 2, 2010, 06:33 PM
It is a lot easier to come off a smaller horse because there is less horse to "hang on to" and under you. I have always fallen harder off of smaller horses for some reason. Haha. With bigger horses, yes there is more to fall from (i.e. height), but there is more horse under you. It is just kinda how it is.

Ibex
Jan. 2, 2010, 07:13 PM
It is a lot easier to come off a smaller horse because there is less horse to "hang on to" and under you. I have always fallen harder off of smaller horses for some reason. Haha. With bigger horses, yes there is more to fall from (i.e. height), but there is more horse under you. It is just kinda how it is.

What they said ^^

I'd rather come off something that has more to hang on to. I've also fallen off the big ones a lot less!

KitKat987
Jan. 2, 2010, 07:19 PM
I had a 17.2 HH horse for a number of years. Falling off him was a breeze. My brain had that extra split second to prepare itself it seemed, and I had plenty of time to relax into the roll :lol:.

I think it really depends on the circumstances of the fall though. Until yesterday, I hadn't come off in a year and a half, and last time I did, my very very green, yet smaller at the time horse, as in his sixth ride, tripped at a canter and we both went over his head. That one hurt and the ground sure came up fast.

But yesterday I had the easiest, most graceful fall of my life. So graceful in fact that my husband who was watching was convinced that I jumped off on purpose :confused: Same horse, now 16 HH, did a dirty sideways spook and I lost both stirrups. He then bolted and crowhopped his way to the end of the arena. I had managed to regain my centre, but not my stirrups, during the crowhopping, but then of course he realized he was headed into the wall and promptly did this big deer like leap and came down at a dead halt from the little gallop he was partaking in. I went up, both my front feet went over his neck, and I landed right beside him, on both feet, holding my reins. Didn't even stumble. It was perfect footing and I didn't jar myself in the least. I swear it was a perfect 10 landing. I highly recommend landing on your feet ;) although I doubt I'll ever get that lucky again. I did get some good air though.

Ajierene
Jan. 2, 2010, 09:57 PM
I highly recommend landing on your feet ;) although I doubt I'll ever get that lucky again. I did get some good air though.

I landed on my feet once....and broke my ankle in three places. I think that would be an 11 landing! To top it off, my mare spooked from a stand still and just jumped sideways a bit. To be fair (or come up with a good excuse), I was sitting side saddle, not really paying attention, unzipping my chaps all lazy like.

I fell off a 10HH pony once and was on the ground and the pony was on the other side of the arena before I even knew I was falling off.

I have generally found that the bigger the horse, the more difficult he finds it to unseat you. I am sure there are some 18HH horses that put a rodeo bronc to shame, but for the most part I have found that the smaller horses are the more athletic ones that can go up in the air, corkscrew and land in a gallop.

twofatponies
Jan. 2, 2010, 10:31 PM
It is all about the landing! I've fallen off a dozen times in my life, I think. Always managed to do some fairly gentle plop and roll, ending up with nothing worse than the wind knocked out of me - or once a cracked helmet, but I had landed on my hip first before my head hit, so I think it was more just a quirk of the angle or a rock on the ground that did that.

Last month my husband managed a spectacular head plant and cracked 5 vertebrae and broke 5 teeth. Totally out of character for both him and the horse. He's come off twice, maybe, in the 3 years he's been riding, and always just a gentle plop on his butt, with no harm done.

Having seen that, and despite my own lucky record, I am going to start practicing judo rolls again, just to restore that old muscle memory of rolling through a fall.

I don't think you can plan for it and react unless you have practiced somehow, so the reaction is instinctive.

enjoytheride
Jan. 2, 2010, 10:41 PM
Is there a number of falls per year that's ok? I'd think it would really vary. A couple times a year for someone who rides broke horses on the flat or on trails. More often for someone who rides difficult horses or someone that jumps?

goeslikestink
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:01 AM
height of the horse has nothing to do with it

its like thomas 1 says its what your doing

what i find is most people tend to ride looking down and not where they are going
if you look down the floor will say a hello to you well quick

obviously there are some seneriios when it happens and some times you know its going to happen on those ones you bail out so you have control of the fall

ie if you have learnt to fall off then there less likely to be an injury

the other sernerios are lack of confidence by the rider
and lack of position or balance
the key to stay is work on your position

balance is the key to work in harmony with horse and to get the balance right
then its how you sit on your horse ie your postion

so many times for exsample on here via photos you see a lot of people with there legs out and toes like penguins or odd lengths of stirrups

when toes are out legs are off -and odd stirrups just help you out to say hello floor how you doing

if you havent got an independant seat - then you have got any sticky bum glue
so again the floor whips up to say hello matey

theres loats of reasons why people fall off but as there always a but mostly likely is lack of confident and they think to much of the what if's and more than likely those that do will

goeslikestink
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:04 AM
Is there a number of falls per year that's ok? I'd think it would really vary. A couple times a year for someone who rides broke horses on the flat or on trails. More often for someone who rides difficult horses or someone that jumps?

not really old wives tails says 11 falls make a good rider
but in all my years of breaking schooling and doing mixed events
i have fell of about 6 times in 48yrs my daughter has fell off about 3 in 26yrs
some were plonker falls as in stupid and some not so stupid
it depends on the situation

nuts4cowboybutts
Jan. 3, 2010, 08:44 AM
Unfortunately, age has a lot to do with it also - the rider's age.

When you are old, it seems like everything hurts more because of old bones, old muscles and old skin. Not to mention that when you are older, your reaction time gets slower.

Ajierene
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:09 AM
Is there a number of falls per year that's ok? I'd think it would really vary. A couple times a year for someone who rides broke horses on the flat or on trails. More often for someone who rides difficult horses or someone that jumps?

It really does vary. We used to say, and my trainers riders still do say - 100 falls before you are a good rider. But, if you are falling off over jumps all the time or sliding off at a trot or canter a lot, then you need to reassess yourself. If your horse is really spooky and you fall off EVERY TIME he predictably jumps to the left - you need to reassess yourself and if that is the right horse for you.

What you do and how much you challenge yourself also makes a difference. In 2008, I fell off my mare once. In 2009 I fell off her 5 times. All the falls were jumping related, but in 2008, I only had one challenging day. In 2009, I started really trying to work on my jumping and jumping a new height. With the increase in challenging myself and working on fixing some bad habits, I fell off more times.


Unfortunately, age has a lot to do with it also - the rider's age.

When you are old, it seems like everything hurts more because of old bones, old muscles and old skin. Not to mention that when you are older, your reaction time gets slower.

You also have brittle bones to worry about as you age, depending on your previous health (drink milk, ladies!). My stepmom fell off at a walk, onto a rocky surface, but still should not have broken two ribs and her collar bone.

kookicat
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:26 AM
I like falling off the bigger ones better- there's more to hang on to! :winkgrin:

enjoytheride
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:06 AM
hmmm so you mean that getting on the 12 hand pony stallion bareback because he's closer to the ground wasn't the better idea?

goeslikestink
Jan. 3, 2010, 02:19 PM
hmmm so you mean that getting on the 12 hand pony stallion bareback because he's closer to the ground wasn't the better idea?

nah not if hes not broke in then you gonna fall off and let me tell you something little ponies can and do it give some when they dont want you on there backs

fooler
Jan. 3, 2010, 02:36 PM
Smaller horses tend to move quicker and be lighter on their feet than larger horses - of course there are always exceptions.

I believe fear of falling is due to:
New to riding - so you have fear of the unknown.
Adult Reriders - we know we don't bounce so well & we have responsibilities that we didn't as kids/teens
Returning from a fall + injury - the longer you have to wait before getting back on, the bigger the 'monster'

Flind a steady Eddy type, don't worry about size or breed, to build or re-new courage. Learn to emergency dismount from the halt and at least the walk for added confidence.

How many falls per year?
Depends on what you are doing
Flat & steeplechase jocks and exercise riders will have more falls than most.
As some have noted as you expand your knowledge in certain disciplines you may experience more falls
General riding that results in 5 or more falls per year - yeah, time for a review. Could be something as simple as adding more rides or groundwork or adjusting feed - if your horse is dumping you because of high spirits & so needs more exercise. Doesn't always mean you are overhorsed or unable to ride. Just need to review how and what you are doing.

enjoytheride
Jan. 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
GLS, I'm not sure why you think he's not broke? I guess that's what I get for sharing an amusing moment.

Beam Me Up
Jan. 3, 2010, 07:11 PM
As for the number of falls, I think it depends on what you're doing and how many you're riding.

I'm not sure that I fell at all in 2009, but then I rode 1-2 horses per day, and didn't jump much.
I'm sure I hit the dirt way more than 5 times in 2006, though, between the 3 OTTBs at various stages I was working with. I jumped bigger fences, took more risks.


On the question of height, in a very small sense, the higher you start, the more force you land with.
More importantly, in any given fall is how you land (what part of yourself, in what position) which is more about trajectory. As a former gymnast, if you over/under rotate your dismount, you'll land on your butt/face instead of your feet, which will hurt. It could be, for a given fall, that had your horse been 6" taller or shorter the fall would have been much better or worse because you would have rotated so many degrees more or less. But I'm not sure there's any way to globally categorize that--it depends upon how fast you are rotating (if at all) if more of less distance would have helped you.

Noctis
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:01 PM
I'll take falling off of my 14 hander...at least I can get back ON! :yes:

RiverBendPol
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:05 PM
Hahaa...you guys just reminded me. Our son was a tall kid (still is, now that he's 32 and 6'4") but when he was about 12, he climbed onto the back of a friend's Shetland pony, who was about 11hh. So, Ben got on, facing backwards, his legs dangling down, his big feet flopping around almost on the ground. Pony said 'No thanks', had a little bucking fit, pitched Ben off and kicked him in the teeth to make his final point.:winkgrin::eek::lol:

Trakehner
Jan. 4, 2010, 12:07 PM
The little guys always gave me the quickest and nastiest falls/throws/drama.

The big guys usually had a bit more time to realize what was happening. I was on an 18 hand jumper, he gave a big & slow major spook before a jump and I was coming off....slowly. I actually had time to think: "This is gonna' hurt", "grab his bridle you twit" to slow down my fall and "what's for dinner?" It was a cartoon sort of fall where the horse disappears from underneath you.

Now for rearing, the bigguns scare the willies out of me. Won't ride a rearer.

analise
Jan. 4, 2010, 12:25 PM
My two worst falls were on horses between 15 and 16hh. One was a random spook, I was riding bareback, moseying around, no leg on at all so when he twisted out from under me, I had nothing to hold on with. Landed flat on my back on not-so-cushy footing. Didn't break anything, but was definitely sore all over for a while.

The other was a horse I was trying out, she bucked a few times, I came off and landed wrong on my left ankle as I came down, very impressively spraining it. Was on crutches for a couple weeks and a walking cast for longer. I still think that foot isn't quite right (this happened in July).

But then there's the 17.3 mare I was mounting bareback and managed to pitch myself over her other side instead of, you know, staying on. She didn't move a muscle while I did this. I laughed at myself and got back on.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jan. 4, 2010, 01:13 PM
Can I just use your post to comment on people that have told me I need to learn how to fall properly? Tuck and roll, or whatever? I don't know about everyone else, but when I fall I usually don't know what happened until I'm on the ground. It's not like I have time to think about what the hell my body is doing while I'm in the air!


That comes with experience I think. When I was younger...I used to find my self on the ground and not know how that happened. I haven't had that experience in many years....now I know the fall is coming with enough time to usually swear and think "damn...this is going to hurt";) You do learn how to fall...how to react and how to know when it is time to let go. All my worst injuries have come from trying to stay on when it was a lost cause.

My worst injury in terms of hospital stay...was falling from a 15.3 hand mare...at speed. But I ended up under her and was stepped on...and my serious injuries were from being steped on..not the fall. Even then...I knew what was happening...distinctly remember seeing her belly and know what foot hit me...but could not get out of the way (had gotten hung up in the stirrup).

I've fallen from my 17+ hander a couple of times (when starting him and he spooked/bucked)...he's a very very quick bugger (not typical for a big guy) and when he really bucks...NO ONE is staying on him (this is one of the most powerful bucks/twist I've ever known...and I can usually stay on any buck). But since the falls haven't been at speed...none were significant and I was always able to get right back on him (well...after finding something to stand on).


ETA: I don't fall that often...but really don't keep track either. I tend to ride green horses and most of my falls are from extreme greenie moves....or them falling with me....(luckily that doesn't happen that often).

2ndyrgal
Jan. 4, 2010, 09:02 PM
I don't fall off much anymore, I stick to my horse, not everyone else's nutty ones. He is however, nearly 18h. And big. And very very quick. This fall we had a spook-trip-buck move that would've put any PBR cowboy in the dirt. Twin sis was riding in the ring with me, and as I did a complete somersault, I actually had time to not only think, but say "damn, this is gonna hurt", out loud. It did. Nothing more than my dignity and my backside bruised (I fall really really well, years and years of practice), but it is a really long way down. That said, that big old long thick neck has saved my butt several times. When he bucks serious, you're coming off.

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Jan. 4, 2010, 09:44 PM
I would think that the few inches would not add much more to the impact but could add more to the time you have to organize your limbs and such so you don't break anything lol. :lol:

broodmare
Jan. 5, 2010, 03:26 AM
I ride a lot with a former gymnast. Dumb as it sounds, she falls really well, her feet touch down with bent knees and then she practically stands up to do that move that gymnasts do when the stick the landing. I asked her how she does this and she says of course you keep your eyes open while sailing through the air so you know where the ground is and can get your feet there.
I have never kept my eyes open. I have them firmly scrunched shut while I curse.
But I had never thought about keeping my eyes open.

Small horse, big horse...just like the others said, speed, trajectory and landing surface.

Duramax
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:13 PM
It is a lot easier to come off a smaller horse because there is less horse to "hang on to" and under you. I have always fallen harder off of smaller horses for some reason. Haha. With bigger horses, yes there is more to fall from (i.e. height), but there is more horse under you. It is just kinda how it is.

Agreed! :yes: I joke that 17 hand drafty cross Elliot has his gravitational pull that keeps me on no matter what sort of shenanigans he tries! :lol: Those quick and wiry little guys can get you off in a split second!

PortPonies
Jan. 15, 2010, 03:54 PM
YES. In my experience, it hurts far more to fall from a big horse. Last winter, I was catch-riding a 17.1 hand big Irish Sporthorse. My colleagues at work kept kidding me that I needed to give up riding for a safer sport, because the two falls I had off of him left some pretty significant damage (and always seemed to happen right before I traveled to staff meetings!).

Now, I own a 15.2 hand TB. He's still got a decent spook, and I took my first spill over the shoulder in early December. My first thought upon landing was: "Great! Nothing's broken!" and my second thought was: "Is that it?"

I am loving the ground much more from my new guy's height. Hopefully I will not see the ground again for a while, though!