Learning to Fall

Written by: Sarah Lewandowski

How do you prepare for a fall?

Anyone who’s been riding horses will tell you that they have fallen off before, but how do you actually prepare for a fall? There’s no guarantee that you will fall without injury but the following tips may help you reduce the impact from the fall while riding.

Why would you fall?

There are some reasons why you could fall, including but not limited to: the horse could refuse a fence; they could be naughty and buck you off; they could fly over the jump and throw you out of the saddle; they could trip or spook.

Before you get on:

Before you get on a horse make sure that you and the horse match each other’s skill sets. Make sure that you aren’t riding an advanced horse that you can’t control. Make sure that are riding in a safe environment for your skill level, for example, if you’ve never ridden outside, make sure you don’t go outside. Make sure that your stirrup lengths are correct and that you have the right size saddle. The most important part is that before you get on, you should make sure you check your girth so that it doesn’t slip when you are riding your horse.

What should you do when you do fall?

When you do fall it’s going to be very fast; everything will be happening in milliseconds. What I learned from riding is that what you do for make sure that you follow almost into a ball.  When you do fall into a ball you’ll be less prone to injuries because you are in a smaller, confined body position. For instance, if you did fall and try to spread your arm out or legs out you put more pressure on that certain body part which could cause injury to that arm or leg. If you do fall into a ball this will give less of a chance for your horse to step on you.

*You should always try to land on your feet or back, but if these are not an option, falling in a ball will protect you as much as possible. Think “Tuck and Roll.”

Should I grab onto the reins?

This is a huge debate. Should you grab onto the rains when you are falling? Not everyone agrees with holding onto the horse once you have fallen off. If you do hold onto the horse this increases your chances of your horse landing on you or stepping on you. It can also painfully the horse’s mouth or nose, depending on what type of headstall you are riding in. Not only could the horse injure you, but it could also injure itself if it feels threatens or too confined. If you do decide to try and hold onto the horse when you fall, never wrap the reins around your hand. This is extremely dangerous because your horse could start running with you, dragging you by the hand.

*Every rider should practice emergency dismounts to prepare both horse and rider. This means dismounting at a moving pace, usually at the walk or trot. Be sure to drop your stirrups before dismounting so that you don’t catch your feet and make an emergency dismount into an actual fall. This is a good time to teach your horse to immediately stop and stand after their rider falls.

How can you prepare?

You’ll never know when you are going to fall, it might be at a lesson, a hack, or even at a show. There are a few ways that you can prepare:

Make sure that you have an approved helmet, and make sure that it fits you correctly. Don’t use someone else’s helmet, a helmet is supposed to fit you.

It’s very important that you check the girth before you get on. When you check the girth, this will make sure that the saddle is sitting properly and that it won’t slip if something were to happen.

Have a cell phone on you. This is why I always have it on me, just in case something were to happen so that I can always call 911 right way. If you do decide to carry it make sure that it is on vibrate or on silent so that you don’t spook the horse. Invest in a good armband or breeches with deep pockets to carry it

You can also practice falling off a small stool onto some mats. This will give you the feeling of a fall. This way you can practice how you will fall and protect your self.

Practice emergency dismounts. Every good rider should know how to do these. Start on a steady horse and eventually work up to any type of horse.

Stay safe!

The Student Becomes the Master

Written (and shown) by: Emma Knight

Saturday, June 17th, we took Beau to his second off-property schooling show. I’m not sure what his previous owners did with him, but it certainly feels as if it was his second ever, not just with us.

 

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Practice the week before. Just a little forward, there. *facepalm*

 

Here’s how the day went:

(Note: Times are estimated, show times get blurry. In addition, we found out that our bit was controversial the night before, so we showed him in a D-ring single joint snaffle, which I’d ridden him in for a ride or two a year ago, which did not end well. He loved it at the show, though, and I haven’t switched it back since!)

6:30AM: Leave home barn

7:30AM: Arrive at show property

8AM: I school Beau. This consisted of some hasty lunging in the show arena before being nicely kicked out so that riders could school under saddle. Beau definitely had plenty of energy and excitement, hopping around and half rearing and running and more.

 

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OoOoOo, baby, I love how we look in this shot.

 

8:30AM: I school Beau under saddle. He surprised me with his attention. We only had one small buck, and he went straight back to work. My trainer helped us by having us rate our gaits, which means using my post to go from a small, short trot to a long, strong trot. It seems to calm us and get our heads in the game. We also popped over a few verticals at 2′. We had one refusal, because I’m lame and didn’t commit, but I made sure that didn’t happen again.

9AM: I get off, Beau gets hay and water. I leave his saddle on to keep him in the “riding mindset” (which I’d end up half regretting later but hunter shows are all “hurry up and wait”).

9:30AM: My leaser arrives. Her first hunter show (above x-rails)!

11 to 12PM: I get on again. We school about a half hour before my classes. He is fantastic, soft and adjustable. I’m loving it!

1PM: My rounds! I do three 2′ hunter rounds, which are the best jumping rounds I’ve had on him ever. I don’t know what got to us, but we were on. We placed 1st in schooling, 2nd in the 2nd round, and 2nd in the third round. Our flat classes were okay, not bad but not fantastic either. It was super windy and hard to hear the announcer, plus there was a flapping tent that Beau wasn’t too happy about either. We placed 6th in under saddle (aka I have a giraffe for a horse) and 4th in equitation because I cannot freaking get my diagonals.

 

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Those knees, though! Yes!

 

2PM: My leaser rides in the 2’3″ class. Beau is, again, perfectly amazing. I am now completely befuddled as to who this quiet, well-behaved horse is. She places well in all 5 of her classes, and is ecstatic to have shown so well in her first big class (her words, but I love it!). Beau is now super sweaty and tired.

3PM: My dad rides in the 2’6″ class. My concern is much higher for Beau than for my dad, as he is super tired and sweaty at this point. He still has plenty of energy though, and it doesn’t take much to get him to go. My dad has nearly flawless rounds, except leaving out some of the strides. He places in 4 of his 5 classes, and 2’6″ is definitely the most competitive division.

Enjoy my commentary, by the way!

4PM: Beau is super sweaty, huffing and puffing. Later, we realized that this is probably at least partially due to his medical condition. He has a normal secondary AV block in his heart. What this means is that when he’s not in hard work, part of his heart shuts off. It’s somewhat common in racehorses. I’d assume it’s even more common because he is a descendant of Secretariat, who is known for his huge heart. So, it’s logical that when his heart turns on, his breathing would increase.

As soon as my dad is off, his saddle is pulled off and I sponge him down with as much water as possible, sweat scraping as I go. I then squeeze plenty of liniment on his lower leg tendons. By the time his cooled off and eaten some grass, it’s time to go home.

We load up, and head out. I feed him and give him a dose of bute for good measure. He had a long, hard day. He gets the next day off and the day after is a quick, chill hack. My barn friend/caretaker informs me he’s slept most of the day inside (he goes out at night to avoid the heat).

 

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Ignoring my helmet hair (#mindyourmelon), I was so, so happy.

 

Last notes: Two years ago, Beau was an underweight, undermuscled, super green horse who liked to go up and down more than forward (well, unless it was running forward). One year ago, at his first off-property, he spooked and ran and had all the wiggles. Two years ago, I never could have kept up with him. One year ago, I was nervous. This show, I was the most calm I’ve ever been. It wasn’t just that I was a better rider, it was that I knew we could do. I knew that we had become a team, a partnership. And once I realized that, there was no stopping us.

“Be My Beau” gave us fourteen ribbons. Like an old schoolmaster, he carted around three people for fifteen classes. And just like that, the student, my pride-and-joy project, became the master.

Summer Riding Must-Haves

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Hello! Sorry for my absence! Everything has been super crazy with my life!

Here today, I’m going to talk about my summer riding must haves! Ready to beat the heat!

  1. Smart Water: Whenever I work out I alway use smart water or any type of electrolyte water to keep me hydrated. We lose electrolytes when we sweat so we need to replenish them!
  2. Kerrits Ice-fil TightsThese are my favorite riding breeches I use in the summer, I hate wearing my thick breeches during the summer heat and they make me extra hot. These tights are thin and have Ice-fil brand technology to keep you extra cool!
  3. Helmet VisorUsing a helmet visor is great during the summer to keep the hot sun out of your face as well as being able to see better without having the sun blinding your eyes!
  4. Katherine Cosmetics: Katherine Cosmetics is one of my favorite makeup brands, I especially love their K-Sport line, which doesn’t make my makeup sweat off or feel gross from the heat and they also have SPF to protect our faces!
  5. Ecolicious EquestrianMy favorite fly spray of all time is the So Fresh and So Green body spray which is all natural and smells amazing, I love using it on myself as well. It also protects your horse’s coat from the sun rays!
  6. Nobel Outfitters Mesh GlovesThese gloves are great for hot weather as they have mesh ventilation to keep your hands cooland not all hot and sweaty.
  7. Herbal Horse Aloe Vera LotionI forever will love their aloe vera lotion! Aloe vera is great for sunburns and to keep your skin hydrated in the summer. It’s completely organic which I love a ton. They have different kinds of aloe vera lotion to choose from! My favorite it the muscle soothe great for sore muscles after riding!

Horse or Best Friend

Written by Dana Moskowitz.

Ever wonder why equine therapy is so popular?

Psychologists aren’t just horsing around: they actually put their faith in the lovely creatures. Horses are the perfect type of therapy due to their ability to reflect our emotions and bring relief from addiction and stress. Not only does equine therapy help release emotions, it also helps a person create a bond with something that can become a symbol of hope.

Horses immediately trigger strong emotions in humans, and, because they are attuned to body language and stiffness, they can sense what a person is facing and help further their recovery. Scientific research has been done regarding the effectiveness of equine therapy. It shows that horses actually change human brainwave patterns. When a person is near or on the horse, their brain waves become more centered and focused from natural empathy.

LiftMeUp!

Many companies such as Lift Me Up use equine therapy to help calm people and help them stay focused on the present, rather than whatever problem they are facing outside the barn.  Equine therapy can also be used to help slowly gain mobility without having to go to your physical therapist. Horses have a way of empowering people to try their best and work on their strengths and weaknesses in a stress-free environment.

The practice of using horses for medical issues isn’t new; in fact, it dates back to 600BC with the Greeks! Either way, scientists have medical proof that horses help relieve stress, and it seems that there is:

“Something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
-Churchill