Falls Happen Image

When we climb onto the back of a horse with a mind and behaviors all it’s own, we are always taking on the risk that we could fall.

As careful as we try to be, it could still happen.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about accepting risk. Safety does come in pretending that risks do not exist, safety comes from choosing the risk we are willing to take on and then working hard to prepare for those risks.

We know that falls can happen, yet we often move from either trying to ignore this reality in the hopes it will never happen to us, or fighting our mind’s wishes to obsess about the “what-ifs” that could happen.

What if we could find a middle ground? What if we didn’t ignore the obvious risk of falling that is present every time we climb on the back of a horse, but we didn’t worry about it either? We simply prepared…

That is what I want to show you in this video. It is possible to train your body how to fall. It does take time, consistency, and the patience that is necessary in building strength and body awareness, but it is possible.

In this video, I am going to show you a simple exercise to get started in building the strength and skills necessary to remain safe in a fall.  

Click Play Below to Watch the Video

 

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121 Responses

  1. Yes, Callie, this is very very good advice. I spread out my mat and started with this excercise just now, 2 minutes ago. And I am planning to do it every day for 2 minutes.
    Because it is necessary to put it in the muscle-memory, and the only way to do that is by repetition. So every day for 2 minutes, here we go!!! Thanks a lot!

  2. Hi Callie – I did it! I will be 70 years old in January and falling is something i do worry about so I am very thankful for this video. At least I feel I am doing something positive to help myself.

    1. Marcelo, it is okay if it isn’t perfect at first! Keep practicing and don’t push to do too many as that might be damaging!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Jennifer, being with just doing what feels easy and working up from there! The key is to be building the core strength as you do more and more rolls.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  3. Thanks for sharing. You have motivated me to incorporate this body tuck roll into my daily routine of core strengthening exercises. I haven’t managed to stand up yet but it’s fun to rock ‘n roll!

    1. Awesome Karin, we think all riders should practice a bit of fall training!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  4. Hi Callie, thank you 4 the exercise.

    I did this exercise many years ago as a way to strengthen my back muscles.
    Later, i quit it because somebody told me I can hurt my spine with it.

    1. Laszlo, you must be careful with this exercise when you are practicing to protect your spine. Another key is having a strong core to protect the back!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Just tried it and didn’t do as badly as I thought I would, although I also know I’ll have limitations with more advanced exercises. What really struck though is that this exercise could be very valuable for seniors even when not riding. Most of us have to face the fact that we really don’t want to reach the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” situation and the best way to help keep it at bay is doing targeted exercises.

  6. Hi dear Callie. I will try tomorrow. Unfortunately I am diagnosed by the doctor with a Diaphragmatic Hernia. I hope it does not effect my riding too much. Thank you so much for all your good advice and Videos. It is Always a pleasure to watch them. Sending you hugs from cold Switzerland. Vera Widmer from Zürich, Switzerland

    1. Hi Vera, have you discussed with your physician if surgery is an option?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. I have had many falls off of horses..and tripping over cracks in the sidewalk. This method has saved me all the time..so far. Thank you for sharing this

  8. I did it, and was shocked how impossible it was for me to stand. Incentive to practice. Now a question. I read as a teenager that you should hold the reins when you fall because it helps you tuck and roll. I trained myself to do this, and managed many falls without breaking anything. What do you think? Good idea or was i just lucky? Yes, it means the horse might get a yank on his face, but he doesn’t get loose which can be a greater danger.

    1. Lynn, I think it depends on the situation. Sometimes it is better to hold onto the reins, in other instances, it can actually cause injury to you and/or the horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. I did it, although not to standing and will continue practicing Thanks! Timely as I came off on Sunday (Nov 10) landing on my right side, very hard landing! Horse spooked at cat leaping on the hay bales. Luckily only bruised and I managed not to put my arm out-just landed on the entire right side of my poor body. Thanks again for great video! Off to practice.

    1. Pamela, sorry to hear about your fall. Keep up the good work practicing!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. I practiced it… almost got up on third try, but it was a killer on all my stomach muscles… especially the one that runs around your sides… think they’re called corset muscles? I’ll keep practicing though. Thanks.

  11. Thanks for reminding me. Years ago I was thrown out of my car. I did the ROLL and it saved me…it distributed the impact along all of my spine to my head. No broken back!
    I’ll now incorporate the ROLL into my morning yoga/stretch exercises. Thanks!

  12. Just did it and got up to my feet. The interesting part is that I needed to keep remembering to keep my head/neck tucked. I’m going to keep practicing. Thank you!

    1. Kari, the idea is to practice so that it becomes second nature in case of a fall you won’t even need to think twice about it!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Not sure this 72 year old body will ever be capable of standing up at the end of the roll but I did practice, and will continue to do so after each of my regular daily exercise sessions. Thanks for this important advice!

    1. Practicing even just the roll will help Shirley, don’t be in rush to get to stand on your feet!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  14. Did it! Honestly, it was a bit funny… I got a MASSIVE cramp in my diaphram/rib cage or whatever right there under the edge of my ribs after the 3rd or 4th try. (Just finished a long lesson with no stirrups — “No-stirrups-November” lol — so maybe my core was a bit irritable to start with). Anyway, I let the cramp subside and then went at it again, and it went better. HOWEVER I didn’t get up on my feet on several tries towards the end. So!! I’m going to keep practicing every day. I’ll let you know when I get up on my feet!! Funny, as I’m typing this I’m getting a cramp in my right calf, so, the hilarity proceeds. I need a hot shower! this is a new goal: getting out of the roll by getting on my feet at the end.

  15. Did it!
    Used to do this when I was jumping, and it saved me a couple of times. When I stopped riding for several years I forgot this exercise, but this is a great teminder, Callie. Thank you!

  16. Awesome exercise and fun to do. I like the simplicity and indication to do what you can do and progress from there. Muscle memory development is so important to develop responsiveness. I learned to roll by constant repetition and it has saved me on multiple occasions.

    1. Learning to roll is a fantastic tool to use, thanks for your comment Jo!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Give it time! Callie often practices this with her martial arts classes so she is going to make it look pretty easy!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. This is a wonderful exercise , which we used to do a few months back , and I used to think why is the fitness trainer making us do such a simple and fun exercise ! Unfortunately, after the knee injury , followed by the shoulder injury , exercise and swimming have taken a back seat . Looking forward to regain back the good habit ! Shoulder has been troubling for long .

    And yes , I did it again now , taking a few steps back while standing up from the roll . Not as perfectly executed , as you have done . You share very very well . Always a major delight .

  18. Wow! You made it look so easy that I was shocked to find that it will take a bit more practice. Or maybe I’m just in denial, and that I’m not as young as I thought I was (65). Thanks for the challenge.

    1. Judy, don’t feel discouraged if Callie is making it look easy, she often practices rolls with martial arts so don’t worry and take your time practicing 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  19. Had a horrible fall last March (two broken ribs and a fractured vertebrae). I’m just now starting to ride again with a lot of anxiety as you can imagine. I will definitely be practicing this technique!! Thank you Callie!

    1. Definitely give this exercise a try, just take it slow especially with your previous injuries!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. Going to try this exercise. I had a back injury from a fall off a horse a few years back. It still bothers me, but if I can do this exercise gradually, I think it will work:)

    1. Definitely work gradually Louise, that is key to protecting your back and yourself from injury 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Sheila, that is totally alright! Keep practicing and it will come 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  21. Thank you for sharing this, I have such a mental block against falling as I am older and do not want to break anything – so yes I will try this.

  22. I am just starting to ride. I’m working on the trot but I’m having trouble with my feet and getting the horse to keep going. And advice?

    1. Hi Mila! You can watch this video on keeping a lazy horse going by clicking here and another video will be coming out soon all about leg cues! Are you finding the most trouble with keeping your stirrups?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Years ago I learned an emergency dismount didn’t know about the tuck and roll the emergency Dismount you grab the horse’s neck and just slide around off to one side I haven’t practiced any of that in years just started getting back to riding and learning dressage and hope to get back into jumping maybe not as high as I used to when I was showing in my younger years but I’d like to be able to pop over something out on the trail or a few more small jumps in my ring

  23. Tend to do this occasionally in broga class but will make it a daily habit now.
    Thanks.
    Also I try squatting to loosen up ankles which helps with the stand up.
    I’m of an age I have to do gym stuff to be able to do the horse stuff!

  24. Hi Callie,
    I waited until this moment to relate this unfortunate event. Eleven weeks ago I was finishing my weekly riding class on my customary lesson horse when rounding the corner of the outdoor arena the horse got spooked while I was in a nice canter. He abruptly shifted and dropped and I heard a crack and felt intense pain and thought my right femur was shattered. I knew I was in trouble so I baled off the back and landed on my butt then elbows and finally my head hit the ground. Maybe because of my prime athletic shape(age 65) the fall was uneventful but the quadriceps muscle was ripped off the bone. Ouch!
    Surgery went well and I’m healing way ahead of schedule.
    Yes, got injured on the horse. My coach who witnessed the event can’t explain it.
    The roll exercise is beneficial. It has been referred to as a deck roll. Beginners can hold a kettle bell or some weight to assist in the momentum of rolling up to the feet.
    In that I’ve only been riding for 15 months, I need some convincing to return. I was having so much fun until that regrettable moment.
    Dale

    1. Dale, I’m really sorry to hear about your fall! I do hope you return to riding if you do take it slow!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  25. Thank you so much – I did it but have a loooong way to go before I can get to my feet. At least it’s brought to front of mind what I need to do to help minimise the potential for damage in a fall.

  26. I tried it but need to work on my stomach muscles to be able to get to my feet! I like the tucking and rolling motion after falling.

  27. I learned the truck and roll many years back and have used it several times over the years. Now that I am getting older it was a great reminder to practice this as we don’t bounce like we used to. The roll back was fine but trying to stand did not work. I will be doing a lot more practicing no doubt. Thanks for refresher!

  28. Callie,
    This is great for forward falls, but how do you prepare for a backwards fall? In my case, it was a 180 degree spook-spin and and in a split second, I came out of the saddle about a foot and was propelled backward behind the horse landing on my lower back from 6′ in the air, breaking my L3 and L1 vertabrae. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Darcy, there are more advanced falls and rolls you can practice as well to learn how to roll backward. Callie attends a type of martial arts class that teaches rolling and falling I would recommend starting there!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. I’ve been trying this exercise every day I since the video was posted, but so far I’m not able to get to my feet without a little help from my hands. My husband watched the video with me, and then was able to give me useful advice about my form.

  30. Just curious…how is this going to help if you’re falling forward or head first off the horse like you do most of the time?

    1. Haley, the key is the have the muscle memory to roll upon landing to distribute the weight!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. I’ve “practiced” it during one of my first jumps (I was not prepared and probably had to check myself what’s the wrong jumping position;). You just do a forward roll.

  31. I rolled, but couldn’t get to the stand-up part yet …I am almost 61. And a runner as well…currently training for my 4th 1/2 Marathon…I’ve noticed some pain in my left knee during this training! I’ll keep practicing

  32. I did it. I need work on this as it was not easy ! It looked simple enough yet keeping my head tucked was challenging. I will try to roll up into my feet. Thank you for this. It’s eye opening for me.

    1. Linda, change isn’t always easy 🙂 It will take some time, especially if you have been doing it the ‘old way’ for a while!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  33. Just fell from my horse the day before yesterday when I asked him for a gallop and he jumped sideways. It was the fist fall since 1980 (you may guess my age now), but I did a nice roll and was on my feet again in a few seconds. Amazingly the muscle memory was still there from younger times.
    But I certainly will take a regular practice routine again!
    Greetings from Austria!

  34. Practicing daily!
    Years ago I had an instructor who taught us to hold the reins if we fell so that we would land on our feet.

  35. I did it! But I am a ways from being able to stand up but I will keep practicing. Over the years I’ve only fallen off a few times but the last one, about a year ago , I did not fall properly and jerked my head back and did some minor injury to my neck. It is manageable , but this is good preparation for next time . Thanks so much.

  36. Thanks for the helpful advice. I have been doing this exercise for a while in yoga practice, but I can’t get on my feet yet. Maybe my butt is too heavy! And I am 73! But it’s a goal to try and meet.

  37. Very useful! Thanks! Practicing since now. Looking forward to more videos on the topic as I find it really helpful))

  38. Hello from Australia! I have just come back to riding after a 20 year break following a nasty fall that totally wiped my confidence. I’m having a lot of trouble pushing through the fear sometimes, but this video has shown me that there’s something I can actively practice and do rather than being helpless. I’m adding it to my Yoga for Riders routine!

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