There’s no getting away from the fact that riding is high risk. Jump jockey AP McCoy broke every bone in his body during his racing career, and Mary King, John Whitaker and Tim Stockdale have all fought back to success after suffering serious riding injuries. But even if you’re not riding around the Grand National or competing at Badminton, it’s still easy to sustain horse-related damage. Check these common injuries out.
1. Crushed foot
You’re racing out to the field to bring in your horse when you realise you’re still wearing your Crocs instead of your usual steel-toed country boots. ‘Oh well,’ you think, ‘He’s never trodden on me before. It’ll be fine.’ You see where we’re going with this, don’t you? If you haven’t been stood on by a horse at some point, you haven’t been around horses much. It’s as inevitable as Andrew Nicholson winning, well, everything.
2. Jodhpur burn
‘They’re a bit tight,’ you think, as you struggle to do up the zip of your fancy new jodhpurs. ‘But – yes – I’ve done it! They’re a size 10 and they’re on, woohoo!’ And you race off for a lovely long hack with a big smile on your face – a smile that is sadly absent when you return to the yard some time later and dismount in the stiff, agonized manner of a blind, ancient cowboy who’s mistaken a cactus for his horse. Ouch!
Wear a hard hat, and you won’t sustain a head injury riding, right? The odds are certainly reduced, at least. The problem is that you generally don’t wear hard hats when, say, removing rugs from a high shelf in your tackroom, thus dislodging a large grooming box that bonks you on the bunce. Or taking a hay bale from the stack in the barn, and accidentally pulling them all over on top of you. Or, in fact, reaching up to take your riding hat off its peg, and dropping it on your own head. Oh, the irony.
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4. Ripped off nail
Miraculously, some people do manage to maintain lovely nails around horses. Some do it by hiding the real nail (what’s left of it, anyway) with acrylics. Others presumably use some sort of dark magic, and really should share the occult secret with the rest of us. What with trying to undo buckles on stiff tack, hang onto a horse that’s gone bronco, or prise open the lids of resistant feed bins, it’s just amazing the rest of us have any nails left at all.
5. Rein rub
New tack is a joyous thing — that lovely leather smell, the gleaming look of it… and the burn of the reins as they cut through the skin on your hands like cheese wire. This is why you should always wear gloves when riding. You didn’t? Ouch.
The British summer is unpredictable. Who amongst us hasn’t gone out to poo-pick the field on a mild summer’s day in a vest top, only to return with flaming red shoulders and milky-white strap marks? Or got so engrossed in a jumping lesson that we don’t realise our nose and lower arms have turned the colour of boiled lobster? Sadly, no amount of fake tan will ever turn your patchy red and white skin to a gorgeous, uniform gold. It’s just one of the crosses we equestrians have to bear.
7. Hurt pride
Yeah, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s being ditched in the water jump in front of a crowd of sniggering spectators, falling headfirst into your horse’s water bucket as you lug it across the yard, or splitting your too-tight jodhpurs halfway through your clear round jumping competition, we’ve all had at least one moment of pure cheek-burning humiliation. Usually several, as it’s the commonest riding injury. It might take a millennium or two, but you’ll laugh at this one day, promise.