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what causes a rotational fall?

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  • what causes a rotational fall?

    When you are competing cross country how much of a rub does it take to have a rotational fall? I mean, are you worried about rubs or does it take more than that to really crash? I have never jumped anything that doesnt fall down and would like to start going over some cross country jumps (little jumps with a trainer of course), but im just a little concerned about how much it takes to flip a horse. sorry for my lack of knowledge about cross country and thank you!

  • #2
    It takes a pretty good hit to flip, usually you also have to hit higher up on the leg than just a traditional rub with a foot. It also has a lot to do with the momentum behind the horse. If you are trotting a fence, the horse has more time to get his legs up and to "fix" any unevenness before he lands. If you're travelling at **** speed, obviously the room for error is much less.

    Don't let fear of a rotational fall keep you from jumping XC fences that are appropriate in height and technicality for you and your horse's experience level. It's fun!


    • #3
      I understand your concern, especially nowadays. However, rotational falls are defined by laws of physics. Think mass of horse, amount of power ot move that mass in a whole new plane, the hieght needed to have the horse rotate vs just stumble or fall, where on the body the impact has to be, etc.

      You are just starting. You are no where near the requirements it takes to flip a horse.

      Go have fun!!!!


      • #4
        I am not a hard core eventer, but I also believe that a horse who hangs their knees is more prone to a rotational fall than one with freak knees or at least the radius parallel to the ground.

        I could be totally wrong! But I have heard that and it makes sense to me seeing that if a horses knees were pointed down and the knee or radius got hit over the jump, that the horse would most likely do a rotational fall with the rider, compared to if a hoof clipped the jump, the horse can move the leg to be able to land on its hooves.


        • #5
          Basically, the horse has to hit the fence ABOVE the knee to actually rotate.

          If you hit the fence below the knee, the fence pushes the lower leg out of the way. The horse may not be able to "get the landing gear down" in time, and it can be a nasty fall, but the horse won't actually rotate.

          If you hit the fence above the knee, the fence can't push the leg out of the way, and the momentum will cause the whole body to rotate.

          Kind of like riding a bicycle. If you ride the bicycle into somthing tall, the front wheel will stop dead, and the back wheel will go up in the air (rotate).

          If you ride a bicycle over a smaller obstacle, you may fall, but it won't throw the back wheel up in the air the same way.

          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


          • #6
            It is almost as easy to have a rotation in stadium as it is on XC. This is why safety cups were developed and subsequently required.

            Rotational falls, as described, are a function of pace and clearance of a horse. Many times you see too slow or uneven pace to a fence. Or you see hesitancy and inattention to the obstacle.

            At the level the OP wishes, too much speed is a general cause.


            • #7
              Horses are horses....I've had horses fall down jumping jumps that fell down (rail got caught in their legs)---3 different horses. Hell...I had a horse do a rotational fall while cantering on the flat...in an indoor (he was young)....and several fall down slipping in a turn (again no jumping). In 20+ years of eventing, I've NEVER had a horse fall down while jumping xc (I know they occassionally do, but IME, I've had them fall down more often at other times). Now me falling off....well that also happens to me more often riding dressage!

              Stupid things do happen no matter what you are doing.

              For jumping xc fences....really the biggest concerns I have is that they are well constructed and will NOT fall down if rubbed....I have far fewer concerns that my horse will have a rotational fall or otherwise fall because the fence didn't fall down.

              If you have a good grounds person/trainer...jumping some small well constructed xc fences is no more dangerous than jumping your regular stadium fences in the ring that fall down. The increased danger is much more up in your head but that adrenaline/fear is also what what makes it so much fun
              Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Feb. 15, 2012, 02:50 PM.
              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


              • #8
                jumping XC is great fun- if you have good jumping basics on the flat, a good coach, and a preferably horse with some experience at the level and good instincts in his knees and shoulders, I would go out there, learn, and have a great time.

                One small caveat to add, however. If you are jumping even small, portable XC obstacles, please check to be sure they are anchored or built into the ground. While it is true that a fence that is built into the ground will not give and may cause a rotation, it can even be more dangerous to have an unsecured XC fence. There have been a few accidents where a rotational fall was caused by a horse hitting an unsecured XC fence, the fence being pushed and rotating, becoming a taller obstacle due to the wider base of the jump rotating backwards and adding to the height of the obstacle as the horse is falling over it.


                • #9
                  I would definitely not worry about a little rub here and there. I had a little horse (and I do mean little!) who went around most xc courses "tick ticking" a lot of the fences (usually brushing the fences, especially spreads, with his toes....of course, this was a good part of the reason he was a LOUSY show jumper! ). I was FEARLESS on that horse and would jump anything on xc on him. He was just conservative in his style, jumping flat and very well out of a gallop. But he was VERY smart, careful, and catty. He may have jumped a bit by "braille" but he was VERY safe.

                  The thing is, you don't necessarily WANT a horse that will jump HUGE over every fence, so as not to bump it. It is tiring on their body, and uses far more energy than needed. It also wastes time, which becomes a big factor when the time starts to get tighter.

                  Like others have said, the horse has to hit pretty damn hard and HIGH up on their front limbs to rotate. My other very good xc horse chested an oxer on xc (he stepped on his bell boot on the take off stride ) and as I was falling, I thought he was going to come over, too. It was the perfect set up for a rotation, but I think he had stopped himself so hard by the boot, that he didn't have enough energy behind him (thank GOD!) to actually go, and he was able to scramble to a stop and back.

                  And I've seen plenty of horses fall and flip jumping rails...even cross rails! It happens.

                  If you have the stomach to do it, try and find some of the photo sequences and videos of some falls. There is a great sequence of Phillip Dutton having a rotational at Fair Hill a few years ago. It was use in a PH article, so should be easy to find (and may be easier to stomach, as horse and rider walked away).


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                    It is almost as easy to have a rotation in stadium as it is on XC. This is why safety cups were developed and subsequently required.

                    Yup, I've had one rotational fall and it was at home schooling as a kid. Fence was upright barrels with a pole on top - got to the fence wrong and my pony hooked the rail somehow. Well. the rail was resting on the barrels and there were standards behind it so the pole hit the standards and stopped moving. Scary stuff - I remember flying through the air and seeing my pony somersaulting next to me as we hit the ground. I was scared to death he had broken his neck. But we both got up and were just fine. Being about 10 or 11 we probably shook it off and jumped the fence again to get it right.

                    I've never had a horse fall over fences xc or foxhunting.


                    • Original Poster

                      thank you all so much for your responses!
                      Its much more comforting (perhaps thats not the word lol) to see that one little mistake isnt going to mean life or death.
                      I think eventing looks like such a blast, but I had never actually been on a course until this weekend because there were no hunter jumper or dressage barns in the place im thinking of transferring for school so I was checking out the eventing barns. The course looked like so much fun, but it was a bit to digest when i felt how solid they were. thanks again!


                      • #12
                        i agree with reay6790, the horse's style over the fence is hugely significant. if they get those knees up high and tight, it doesn't matter so much if the rider isn't perfectly accurate to a fence. dangly forearms are nothing like as dangerous as dangly knees.
                        a lot of experienced xc horses tap the xc fences, it doesn't mean anything. a 4* rider told me that his top horse (went clear round many 4*s) always rapped his hind fetlocks on the top of a fence into water, he'd sort of 'let himself down' over it, far safer than ballooning it. this horse was a super-careful sj'er too...


                        • #13
                          How does this horse stay on his feet? Why wasn't it a rotational fall?

                          Really would like to know!


                          And well, Andrew Nicholson. What can you say!


                          • #14
                            The downhill landing gave him more time to get his feet out in front of him. I've seen this in a few other videos (the video of Bobby Meyerhoff through the water at Middleburg is another good example). The horse is also ridden by Andrew Nichloson. I believe his nickname is "Mr. Stickability." He's very balanced and has great instincts...when he felt it going wrong, he did everything he could to allow the horse to find its feet.


                            • #15
                              Agree with others, rotational falls at LL XC are few and far between. You're just as likely to have a rotational fall in one of those over-stuffed hunter jumps, with upteen boxes, gates etc in the jump as you are to have a bad fall on LL XC.

                              If you're a worrier, then my best suggestion is to go over your gear and make sure your stuff is as safe as possible. Make sure your stirrup bars are down and that you have safety irons on your saddle. Make sure your saddle fits well, never rolls to either side, and a breastplate is a good idea if for no other reason than it being something to hold onto if you're half outta the tack. I always use an old style hunt breastplate on my school horses for this reason, elastic breastplates don't give you an 'oh shit' strap. Make sure you have a properly fitted helmet that won't move if you get jumped outta the tack, and wear a crash vest. Never wear a standing martingale as it may prevent the horse from using its head and neck to recover its balance, use a running if you might need it. Wear gloves and be comfortable with the idea of slipping your reins over an iffy jump to save your horse's face, but also be practiced at picking them back up again. Put full boots on your horse's legs, none of this open front business, so that if your horse does make a mistake and hit a jump, he'll be less likely to over-react or get hurt. Some type of shock absorbing saddle pad isn't a bad idea if you think you may land hard on your pony's back, to help prevent an over-reaction. I figure the rider is always more likely to make mistakes than the horse, and the horse shouldn't be punished for those.

                              XC in many ways is more natural and makes more sense for horses, at the lower levels anyway. Its something natural and its in my way, so jump it. You may be surprised how easily your horse takes to it, and horses better gauge height of solid obstacles rather than airy pole jumps so I bet your pony will be plenty safe enough for low fences. Have fun!


                              • #16
                                At introductory levels the warm-up ring is probably more dangerous than the likelihood of a rotational on XC. I bet we even have more deaths (carbon monoxide) from sleeping in your camper/horse trailer than deaths from a rotational at BN and N. So if your going to worry you should pick other elements of the sport to worry about.


                                • #17
                                  Everyone else above has given you good advice. I once had a rotational fall over a 2' tall vertical in a grid, the pole got caught between her legs.

                                  Schooling BN/N level stuff should be no problem at all.