So, You Think You Love Horses? Some Reflections on the Nature of Horses and Man

More Discussions by “The Accidental Horseman”

“I would rather be a Lucky Rider than a Good One.”

JBK Jumping JBK Falling

Jacqueline Kennedy was a elegant rider
but she was at times unlucky.

That statement is really a trap, and I do not believe it for a second. If you identify with it in the least please read both what I wrote about horse safety and also what I wrote about my own experience learning to ride.

horse shoe
We are not patient people. We want to take one lesson and go out and finish a competition jumping course in record time the next day. That is not the way life is. Learning to ride is like learning a second language, or to ski or to fly or any other demanding skill that is both physically and mentally challenging. If you truly want to ride, take your time and do it well and do not rush yourself. People engage in many risky behaviors: cigarette smoking, driving under the influence, not observing firearm safety measures or becoming pen pals of convicted serial killers, to name only a few. I could add putting an unprepared person on horseback to that list. I would not trust in an unprepared person's luck. I do not truly believe there are lucky people, only a few isolated refugees from the otherwise unforgiving law of averages. It is those “lucky few” that we all like to celebrate. People may need to believe they are lucky in order to function in a certain task, for example, as a bomb disposal technician. If you are one of them, God bless you and hold that rabbit's foot tightly, but what I am saying is that I do not believe in that luck for a moment. Trust in your skill and experience but not in your luck.

Four leaf clovers
Statistics tell us that the majority of riding injuries occur to teenage girls with limited riding experience. Teenage boys tend to get their injuries in ways other than horseback riding so they avoid being part of the statistic. This fact is good evidence for the value of experience and for the correct education, training and safety measures for young riders. Even so, your chance of being injured riding a horse is greater than your chances of being injured while riding a motor cycle. However, I suspect that most riding accidents are at lower speeds and less severe. As I have said before, I have never had any serious injuries.

There are various safety guidelines for beginners and for parents of children interested in learning to ride. For example, beginner riders should ride a horses more than five years old and should be supervised at all times by a more experienced person. Older horses, like older people, are more settled and less apt to do mischief. Between 10-20 hours of instruction in horse handling and riding is recommend. About 20 per cent of horse related injuries occur to people handling horses while dismounted so training in proper horse handling is equally important.

The Accidental Horseman

More Discussions on Equine Safety

Accident Research Centre, Monash University
Horsetalk: Riding and Safety

Links to Other Sites with Equestrian Interests
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