First Aid In The Yard – The Rider

Writing about rider first aid in the yard, well I could literally go on forever! Everyone has their stories, some more vile than others, but the majority of equestrians are quite knowledgeable and smart when it comes to injuries and rider safety. To be quite blunt,  unfortunately there are some idiots who also that think they are invincible when it comes to riding their horse and my advice, steer clear of them. Putting yourself at risk is not ideal, as you may be setting both yourself & your horse up for a very serious injury. 
What to do if you fall from your horse…
First things first, don’t panic. Falling is all part of this sport we so desperately love so we have to expect it at some point or another. The main thing is ensuring you take all the right steps after you’ve fallen as the last thing you want to do is cause more damage by exacerbating any injuries you may have sustained.
In over 15 years of riding I have had many unscheduled dismounts, as some people so pleasantly like to call it. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to give yourself a minute. After I’ve fallen I tend to lie still for a second and take a few breaths before trying to get back up. This gives you a chance to get your head together and check for any injuries. If you feel you’re ok to keep riding I would always recommend getting straight back up. Just don’t be a hero and ignore any obvious signs of a more serious injury as you will only make it worse.
If you’ve fallen and you think you’ve done some serious damage, don’t move if you can avoid it. Try to get to your phone to call for help – your yard manager should never be too far away. This brings me to probably one of the most important points of this whole post *ALWAYS HAVE A MOBILE PHONE WITH YOU WHEN YOU’RE RIDING*. You never know what can happen so be prepared for the worst and have a mobile with you incase you ever need to call for help in an emergency.
What to do if you witness someone else fall from their horse…
Again, don’t panic. If you witness someone falling, it can be quite scary. Reacting to a fall or reacting to watching someone fall can be extremely difficult, people automatically go into panic mode, sometimes it can be like watching a gang of headless chickens running around the place, add in a worried parent to the situation then that is were the chaos begins, I don’t blame the parents, it can be scary! My mother still cant watch me ride without her heart being in her mouth!
Anyone who works on a yard, or any livery on a private yard should defiantly know where the first aid kit is kept, this will assist in helping get quick and efficient care to the rider asap if it is needed when they fall. But lets be realistic here, not many falls from a horse end up in a plaster stuck onto your head, the majority of falls unfortunately end up being serious or a bad concussion.
Being a rider, you really do put your life into the hands of a 50 tonne beast, and well they cant always keep you safe. 
If you happen to be present during a fall in the yard depending on the severity ,the below are a few guidelines to follow: 
  • Call your yard manager ASAP to inform them of what has happened
  • Assess your surroundings to ensure it’s safe for you to help. Make sure there are no horses running around (eg the horse the rider fell from). If possible, get someone to catch him and put him in his stable.
  • Assess the injured person. Ask them if anywhere hurts, if they can feel their arms and legs etc, if they feel they can move. If they say yes, give them a hand and advise them to move very slowly incase they have sustained an injury that they don’t realise yet. Adrenaline can kick in and mask injuries so if the fall looked particularly bad, be confident the person is ok before allowing them to get up.
  • If the person is struggling to answer your questions, struggling to get to their feet, complaining of a sore back, neck pain or a sore head then you should call an ambulance immediately & explain what has happened. Most importantly, NEVER move the injured person as this could make the injury worse. The operator will stay on the phone with you and tell you how to proceed until the paramedics arrive on the scene. 
  • Calm down the injured person, ask them questions to keep them focused on you
  • Dealing with onlookers or big crowds, keep everything as relaxed as possible making sure the injured person has enough privacy & space.
I am going to raise my hand up here and say there have been one or two occasions where I have fallen and hit my head, but out of stubbornness I said I was fine, only to have a throbbing headache for two days after the fall, wondering where the headache even came from.
Concussions are a serious thing and can do an awful lot of damage if they are not seen to properly. If you suspect you have a concussion always get yourself to an emergency room just to be on the safe side. It’s just not worth the risk to ignore your body when it’s telling you to stop and slow down. 
Above I have only mentioned a few injuries, I myself have broken fingers , sprained ankles, I have even broken my femur (my leg). Funny story there actually but my instructor at the time tried to make me get back on my horse, not believing me when I said I was in pain, keeping in mind that my entire leg had been turned around backwards, whatever way I fell! But I am pretty sure they only sent me to the hospital to keep me quiet. I remember being shoved into the backseat of my dads car, only to find out a few hours later that I had actually broken my Femur, all whilst falling off going over a trot pole!
It just goes to show how simple these accidents can happen and the difference 18 years makes, in a sense of how much more seriously people react to injuries when they happen.
I myself am quite lucky to also be fully qualified in CPR & Basic First Aid. I am trained & know how to react in these situations. Praying that I never have to use my knowledge in any situation, but I am lucky to have the qualifications incase anything bad does ever happen around the yard. 

*** Important Information Alert ***

If you are riding alone, bring a phone with you, if you are hacking or going out to the field inform people to let them know.  Be smart, and use your head. Don’t ride carelessly if the weather conditions have been dreadful. Being a rider, you have to think ahead with these things, not only for your safety but for the risk of injuring your horse or any other riders out with you. Careless riding in my opinion is uncalled for, if you don’t have the common knowledge or sense to ride safely you shouldn’t be riding at all.
There have been so many freak accidents you hear about that I would hate anyone to be involved in. Our health & the safety and the health and safety of others around us is vital.
Remember, that most yards have rules & regulations in place for a reason, whether it be that you have to wear a back protector jumping in the arena or that you’re not allowed enter certain areas with your horse due to safety concerns, your yard Owner & Managers are simply looking out for your safety so please respect them! 
Thanks for Reading,

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