Updated: Sep 21
Horseback riding is exhilarating and rewarding, but it's important to acknowledge that it comes with inherent risks. In fact, a study of hospital admissions over a five-year period done by Dr. Janet M. Sorli revealed that riding a horse is more dangerous than riding a motorcycle. Understanding the dangers and taking necessary precautions are key to stay safe in the saddle. This vlog gives you 3 things you can do to stay safer as an equestrian and a video so that you can get started with teaching your horse an emergency stop.
1 Helmet and safety equipment
Head injuries are a significant concern in horseback riding accidents. In fact, Dr. Sorli found that the area most likely to be injured was indeed the head and among the fatal injuries recorded, none of those dying of head injury wore a helmet. Wearing a properly fitted and certified equestrian helmet greatly reduces the risk of head injuries, making it a fundamental piece of safety equipment. Other safety measures, such as riding boots, breakaway safety stirrups and protective wests further ensures a riders safety.
However, I look at safety equipet as a protection if something goes wrong not necessarily something that keeps me safe when riding. I wear a helmet just like I use a safety belt when driving. A safety belt is lifesaving in case of an accident, but the steering wheel and breaks are what makes a car safe to drive and be around....
The research found that a significant number of injuries (30%–40%) occured to persons on the ground near the horse. This doesn`t necessarily mean that ground work is dangerous. Doing groundwork with horses and especially communicating with them on a distance through body language, before attempting to handle them in their space is something I have found very beneficial, especially with challenging horses. A horse who is defensive, unpredictable or pushy (kicking, biting and spooking), will do these behaviours also outside our space, which allows us to solve it on a distance where we are safe, before entering their space.
Ground work also helps us understand horses better and build a connection we can bring with us up into the riding. It’s also found that horses regularly trained on the ground are more relaxed and less reactive when ridden (Ludewig et al. 2013).
3 Learn the bend to stop
Riding accidents tend to happen when horses bolt, buck or rear. When it comes to preventing horses from doing this, many riders consider stronger bits, martingales or side reins. However, the reality is that none of this ensures rider safety.
To be able to bolt, buck or rear a horse needs to use both hind legs, which the horse is perfectly capable of doing even if we pull on two reins. In fact, pulling on two reins is likely to upset the horse even more, it also gives them something to lean on while bucking (and buck harder) or it can cause them to flip backwards when rearing.
This is when the bend to stop technique offers a safer and more effective way to calm down a horse, and it works with a bit or without.
The technique involves holding out one rein, causing the horse's head to bend to the side and prompting the horse to turn in a circle by crossing over behind until it comes to a stop.
Horses can go against 2 reins, but not so easily against 1. Unlike the regular two rein stop, the bend to stop technique minimizes the risk of causing panic and resistance in the horse. It enables riders to stop horses in a safe and effective way while emptying worry, not causing more. It reduces the likelihood of both rider and horse sustaining injuries, while making horses lighter in the bit, softer in the body and engaged in the hind quarters.
For the bend to stop to work, both horse and rider need to know it. Watch the video below to get started with your horse👉
Thank you so much for watching and best of luck with teaching this to your horse!
Practicing the bend to stop will connect the hind leg of the horse to the rein aid which after a while makes it possible to do a safety stop without turning the horse, like shown in this video