Beginnings of Falls
When deciding to ride, one thing is always guaranteed to come along with that decision; falling off. No one is immune to it. Some riders will fall more than others. But one thing is true with all riders, every fall will teach us valuable lessons.
Falling can be dangerous. We've all seen and learnt about all of the bad falls some people have experienced, so we need to be careful. Every time you get into the saddle, you are taking risks. There are, however, different things you can do to minimise the risk of hurting yourself in case of a fall.
I know some stables have made their students practice falling off a horse in a controlled environment. They'll have one person hold onto the horse and keep him from moving while the rider falls to the ground. I've never experienced this, but I do understand their logic behind it. If they can teach riders how to fall correctly in a controlled setting, then they hope that they'll fall safely when things were to go wrong.
Unlike riding in a grass field or on gravel, you can modify a riding ring to make it better for you. For example, you can walk around the ring and look for stones and remove them before you ride. You could also change the jump course around or get rid of it all together depending on what you plan to do.
Of course wearing the right gear will also help you stay safe. The most obvious is wearing a helmet. Some will also wear protective vests. What's also good is to wear the right pants and boots. No one should ever ride in shorts. This exposes your legs to cuts and scrapes (not to mention that it is uncomfortable against the saddle). Wearing the right boots also helps. Riding boots allow you to have a good grip on the stirrup and they don't restrict the movement of your foot while riding. Other shoes weren't designed for riding. Some shoes will restrict movement or they will have too much grip on the stirrup that your foot may get caught in a fall.
The most important thing you can do to minimise your risk of falling is pay attention. I think it's safe to say that many of a rider's falls are due to them losing focus. It's natural to zone out or to be thinking of all the other things you have to do. The reason why this can be risky with horses is that you might miss all of his little cues that something wasn't right. When a rider is not prepared and is caught off guard, they won't be balanced in the saddle or quick enough to react. This is usually why someone will fall off.
Granted, yes there are certain situations where you can't prevent a fall from happening. Your horse might decide to refuse at the last minute or trips on uneven ground. Sometimes falls will just happen. They teach us and improve us every time. But with every fall, a rider is always faced with a decision; to give up or to get back on.
Until next time, happy riding!