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How To Fall Off A Horse

( Originally Published 1962 )

In the life of every horseman occasions will arise when it is desirable or necessary to leave the saddle in a hurry and without formality. The problem is to achieve the fall without incurring more danger than is involved in staying on the horse. Unfortunately there is very little time to think out, much less apply, any kind of technique. The believers in learning to ride from a book will find themselves particularly handicapped—there is hardly sufficient time to turn to the right page of the manual.

There are circumstances in which the inexperienced rider should get out of the saddle quickly rather than take greater chances. This may be the case should the horse threaten to get out of control in dangerous or rough ground that allows no room for a battle.

The real dangers a rider faces in falling off are those of getting caught in the stirrups and of having the horse step or fall on him after he has fallen. The first consideration is to get clear of the stirrups. It is also a healthy precaution to retain the grip on the reins, as it will frequently keep the rider from falling head first. When he is clear of the stirrups and has a grip on the reins he can safely dive off, over the horse's shoulder.

The same procedure is recommended should the horse stumble badly, flounder, and threaten to go down. In such a case, concentrate also on falling clear of the horse.

As experienced rider will always take his feet out of the stirrups when he passes a rough spot or crosses a rocky creek bed, an unsafe bridge, or a slippery pavement.

If a fall has to be taken while the horse is running fast the rider should try to land on the back of his neck by ducking his head before taking off, and should fall away from the horse. It is worth remembering that a drunk seldom gets hurt in a fall that would mean broken bones to a sober person. This does not mean that you should be intoxicated each time you go for a ride but merely proves that your chances are better when you are relaxed.

The rider should not try to break his fall by stretching hands and arms out in front of him. If he curls up like a porcupine he will probably roll safe out of harm's way.

It will stiffen the beginner's confidence to take a few mild falls in the safety of the ring, and he should be given a chance occasionally to roll off his horse while riding without stirrups or saddle, to find out for himself that it is not as bad as it looks.

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