embedded in your skin where the skin is open. You quickly use your tweezers from your first aid kit to remove the sharp sticks. Then you use the moist towelettes to dab the areas to cleanse them and apply bandages. There is no profuse bleeding otherwise you know you would apply pressure to the bleeding area, in addition to calling 911. You con- sider yourself lucky because the situation could have been worse.

According to Katherine Blocksdorf (2019), “if you ride (a horse), you will fall off. Even the quietist most well-schooled horse can spook, bolt or buck. There is no way to completely avoid falls when you are riding.” She recommends tips to decrease the impact of the fall while horseback residing. First try and avoid the fall and then prepare for the fall.

Avoid the Fall 1. Ride a horse that matches your skill level. 2. Ride in a safe environment for your skill level. 3. Ride with awareness. Try to see what may spook your horse before your horse does so you can divert its attention.

4. Ride in control. 5. Keep proper position in the saddle. 6. Make sure that saddle fits you, and the stirrups are adjusted to the right length.

7. Check that your girth or cinch are tightened so the saddle doesn’t turn.

Prepare for the Fall 1. Wear an ASTM approved helmet. 2. Wear boots with a 1” heel, safety stirrups or cages on your stirrups.

3. A crash vest provides extra protection for your torso. 4. Gloves give you better purchase on the reins and protect your hands.

5. Learn to do an emergency dismount. . 6. Learn to do an emergency stop.

Katherines says that if you know you are going to fall, “try to kick your feet free from the stirrups. Ideally, you’ll have one of those long slow de- scents that leave you sitting on your backside with your horse looking down at you in surprise. If not, try to roll out of the way of your horse’s legs. Don’t stick your arms out to break your fall as this may increase the chances of breaking a bone, or having parts sticking out that the horse may step on. Instead, think of curling like a hedgehog.” What if you are riding with your friend, and your friend ends up with a head injury, possibly from a fall or other activity while riding. Maybe even possibly a neck or spinal injury? What would you do? With any kind of head, neck or spinal injury be cautious about moving an injured person.

Here are signs of a head injury: • Does not respond or only moans • Acts sleepy or confused •


• Had trouble seeing, walking or moving any part of the body • Has a seizure

If a person has a head injury, that results in a change of consciousness or other signs and symptoms, or other cause for concern, the person should be evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Call 911 if the person becomes unresponsive. A concussion is a type of head injury which results when the head is hit so hard that the brain moves inside the skull. Possible signs of concus- sion are feeling stunned, confusion, headache, nausea or vomiting, diffi- culty in balance, double vision, loss of memory of what happened before or after the injury. A spinal injury can occur after a fall from a horse. The spine protects the spinal cord. If the spinal cord is damaged, paralysis or weakness in extremities or even worse symptoms can result. Suspect possible spinal injury damage if an injured person has fallen and then has tingling or is weak in the extremities, has pain or tenderness in the neck or back, appears not fully alert, is 65 years of age or older, and has other painful injuries especially to the head or neck.

First Aid for anyone who has a possible head, neck or spinal injury starts with ensuring the scene is safe. Call 911, get the first aid kit and if possi- ble, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). An AED is used to detect any life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. Have the person remain as still as possible and then wait for someone with more advanced train- ing to arrive and take over. Do not twist or turn the person’s head or neck unless absolutely necessary.

You find that your friend may have suffered a concussion, so you call 911 and wait by her side until emergency medical services arrives. You are very glad that you both wore helmets and that you have taken First Aid training. Being prepared for an emergency by knowing basic First Aid skills are beneficial for everyone to know and can potentially save lives.

First aid courses can be taken through local Red Cross and American Heart Association chapters. Here are some examples of their websites where you can locate courses for First Aid, CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Red Cross: American heart Association: sociation-courses/

References: Blocksdorf, K. (2018). Retrieved from what-to-do-when-someone-falls-off-a-horse-1885890 Blocksdorf, K. (2019). Retrieved from how-to-fall-off-your-horse-1887010 Heartsaver FIRST AID CPR AED Student Workbook (2016). First Ameri- can Heart Association Printing April 2016.


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