Murdoch strongly recommends taking
lessons to help you learn to ride from
a balanced and supple position. This
will help you absorb the unexpected
direction or speed changes that often
precede a fall.
Any activity that takes us safely
beyond our hard-wired human
instinct to remain standing is helpful.
In the sport of eventing, innovators
have now come up with methods to
teach riders to fall or roll in a safe
During the Fall
After our inner alarm sounds and
before we meet the ground, we have
about 500 milliseconds to think and
respond, according to Danny Warrington, founder of the LandSafe
Reducing Rider Risk program.
In that span of time, we can aim
for the dirt instead of the boulder.
We can come off the uphill side of
the slope so we aren’t crushed by our
horse tumbling on top of us.
Or, as the LandSafe program
teaches, we can launch ourselves away
from our horse and put our body in
a position to mitigate the impact and
prevent serious injury.
Introduced in December 2016 at
the U.S. Eventing Association annual
meeting, the LandSafe program was
created by Warrington, a former steeplechase jockey and eventing rider,
and his wife Keli, a nationally ranked
gymnast who transitioned to evening.
One of the biggest ways to improve the odds we won’t
fall, or not as often, is to learn to ride from a place of
softness and balance that allows our body to absorb the
movement of the horse.
“A lot of western riders think that bracing their feet in
the stirrups and pushing against the cantle will keep them
safe and stable,” says Murdoch. “English riders will shove
their heels down, bracing against the stirrups, for the same
reason.” Gripping with the knees or thighs is another common defense mechanism.
The reality, however, is this position makes you much
less stable. “Bracing creates a pivot point around which your body will rotate if
you lose your balance,” says Murdoch.
Instead, we want to ride with hip, knee and ankle joints that are flexible and
functional, not locked into one position.
your legs creates
a pivot point,
causing your body
to rotate if you
lose your balance.
flexible in your hip,
knee and ankle
Always remember the
basic safety position:
Tuck your chin, go into an egg
shape, protect your head and neck
between your arms, and allow the
energy of the fall to dissipate as you
roll to a stop.