If you’re riding regularly, you’re going to take a fall at some point. It happens to everyone sooner or later, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s important to take care of yourself after you fall off a horse to ensure you’re both mentally and physically okay before climbing back on. After falling, you’ll likely deal with some aches and pains as well as some level of nervousness regarding riding again.
In this article, we’ll cover several different ways to take care of yourself after a fall, as well as some advice on how to reduce anxiety once you’re ready to start riding again.
Get Checked for Injuries
If you notice any sharp pains, numbness, or other signs something is wrong after your fall, head to the doctor as soon as possible. If you’ve broken a bone or torn a muscle, you’ll be glad you got it, not after you’ve limped around for two weeks.
If your fall involved a hit to the head, take a trip to the doctor even if you’re feeling okay. Head injuries shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s possible to be suffering from a concussion and not notice for some time if your symptoms are mild.
The sooner you get any injuries treated, the sooner you’ll be able to start riding again.
Go Home and Rest
After you’ve had a tough fall off a horse, the first thing you should do (assuming you are sure you aren’t injured and you and your riding instructor have agreed you should head home and rest), is to go home and rest. Right after you fall, you’ll likely be running on adrenaline which can sometimes cover up the pain from any injuries you may have sustained.
Going home and resting until you’re fully relaxed will allow you to take a better inventory of how you feel so you can decide if a trip to the doctor is necessary or not.
Stretch and Get a Massage
After you fall off a horse, it’s important to take the time to stretch and massage out any tense or sore muscles. This will help prevent them from tightening up and give you another opportunity to feel any injuries you may have missed before.
You can also use this as a time to test your range of motion so you can monitor it as you’re healing from your fall. Sometimes when you are injured and heal, your muscles will tighten, leaving you more likely to get reinjured in the future. Regularly stretching out your injured muscles is a great way to prevent this.
Ice and Ibuprofen
If you’re feeling a bit sore after you fall off a horse and you’ve checked that nothing is seriously wrong, ice and ibuprofen are usually good first aid.
According to medical professionals, ice can help reduce pain and swelling and, if applied soon enough, can also reduce the amount of bruising you’ll have. Just make sure that when you’re applying ice, you’re using a cloth to separate the ice from your skin and don’t ice any area for longer than 30 minutes.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID, meaning that it helps to reduce inflammation in the body and reduces pain. This can be helpful as it will allow you to get back to moving, aches and pains free as soon as possible. Just make sure that you give yourself a good assessment before starting to take it so you don’t accidentally miss any injuries that the effects of the ibuprofen could cover up.
Go Back to Basics
Taking a fall off a horse can rattle your confidence, and it’s common to feel some anxiety when you get back on for the first time after your fall. That’s why your first time back on, it’s best to take it back to the basics. For example, if you usually spend most of your lesson jumping, maybe take it back and go over low jumps or some poles on the ground to ease your nerves. That way, you’re not forcing yourself to jump right back into the scary stuff.
It’s okay to take a couple of rides to ease your way back into things. However, it’s better to take it slow and allow yourself to work through any fears rather than immediately expecting yourself to go back to all the things you were doing pre-fall.
Switch It Up!
In addition to taking it back to the basics, another way to get through post-fall anxiety is completely switching up your riding routine. If you normally do dressage, maybe take a couple of trail rides. If you typically stick with barrel racing, completely change things up and try a different discipline.
If your fear is associated with a specific horse, this could also be a great time to take lessons on a different, calmer horse. That way, you can build your confidence back up on another horse before going back to your previous one.
Check Your Safety Equipment
After a fall off a horse, one final way to take care of yourself is to double-check that all your safety equipment is damage-free and properly sized. This is especially important if you were wearing it during your fall since some equipment, including helmets, are only guaranteed to protect you through one accident.
Ensuring that all of your equipment is working correctly will give you additional reassurance that you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself when you go back to riding.
Hop Back On
Finally, after a fall from a horse, the most important thing to do is get back on the horse and keep going. Everyone falls at least once (and usually way more than that!) it’s part of the sport. If you start to avoid riding because you’re scared you’re going to fall again, you risk endangering the fun of the hobby.
By hopping right back on after a fall (after making sure you’re not seriously hurt) you’ll prevent the anxiety that could come into the situation if you start building it up.
Falling off a horse usually isn’t a big deal, so don’t treat it like one. On the other hand, if you’re injured or seriously shaken, it’s okay to take little time to get back in the saddle. Lean on the advice of a trusted riding instructor or knowledgeable friend to gauge when to mount back up.
After you fall, it’s okay to take things slow. There’s no competition to see who can hop back on the fastest. Instead, take the time to make sure you’re not seriously injured and give yourself the time to heal from any bruises and sore muscles.
Once you’re reading to start riding again, go back to the basics if you’re feeling nervous to help build your confidence back up. If you’re particularly nervous around the horse you fell from, it’s okay to take a few lessons on another horse until you’re comfortable again.
After your fall, make sure that none of your equipment was damaged and if it was, replace it! Your equipment helps keep you safe in the event of an emergency, and it’s crucial that it’s functioning as well as possible.