… how long have you been riding?
We admit it. Horses are very big and quick to react. Humans are small and slow to react. You could even call us “clumsy.”
With this combination of rider and horse, no matter how skilled of an equestrian you are, you have been or will be hurt. It’s inevitable.
This list breaks down the common horse-related injuries from beginner to advanced level. (Note: this humorous article is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have suffered a horse-related injury, please seek professional medical attention!)
1. Broken toes
Skill level: beginner
Broken toes are one of the most common horse-related injury, Whether the human has worn the wrong foot wear, or the horse just doesn’t know the words “personal space”, almost everyone that has been around horses has had a broken toe. You don’t even need to be a horse person to get a broken toe from horses. Sometimes a weekend outing to the local petting zoo will cause a broken toe.
It’s a common injury that heals up rather well, whether you go to the doctor or not. Most broken toes don’t cause complications besides having gnarly-looking feet which do not pair well with flip flops, but some will result in extra arthritis as you age, which is very common anyway if you already have horses in the first place.
Causes: Wearing flip flops around horses. Not paying attention around horses. Generally being around horses.
2. Broken ribs
Skill level: advanced beginner.
Broken ribs are very painful. They can be a result of a horse kicking you or you taking a fall off a horse or plenty of other mishaps. While the initial trauma from a broken rib(s) is very painful, and it feels like you’ll die, ribs heal up fairly quickly. The feeling of not being able to take a breath only lasts for about two weeks. If you can survive those two weeks, you can survive anything.
Sometimes you’ll have complications if you puncture or collapse a lung. Watch out for coughing up blood, since that is a very bad thing. Seek medical attention!
As your ribs heal, you will notice they probably aren’t in the same place they used to be. Some even just tend to permanently “float” around your torso area. Broken ribs are a good introduction to other broken bones, and also a conversation piece.
Causes: being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being behind a kicking horse. Being bucked off or dumped off a runaway horse.
3. Separated shoulder
Skill level: intermediate
A separated shoulder can be more painful and longer to heal than any broken bone you will ever have. When you combine the force of a thousand-pound animal with the frail structure of a human being you sometimes result in a separated shoulder(s).
The horse goes one way, and the human goes the other: Eventually something has to give, and that something can be your shoulder. Separated shoulders may require surgery, unless you are too tough or too poor to have surgery and then the shoulder heals on its own. This can result in uneven shoulders, droopy boobs and uncomfortable bras.
Causes: being bucked off, getting yanked by the lead rope and extra spooky horses.
4. Broken tail bone
Skill level: advanced intermediate
Ah, the joys of having a broken tail bone. Doctors will tell you there’s nothing that they can do for you. You will come to realize that no matter what position you’re in, you won’t find relief. You won’t be able to sit, sleep, walk, stand, drive, or ride a horse without being in pain. Going to the bathroom will bring tears to your eyes. For months you’ll wonder if the pain will ever go away? It probably won’t, but hopefully it will be much less severe as time passes.
Causes: Unscheduled dismounts from your horse. Falling on your butt. Landing on your butt.
5. Broken back
Skill level: advanced
Only the elite few can say they’ve had a broken back due to a horse-related incident. Broken backs come from extreme force produced by the horse received by a terribly unlucky human. It’s basically a perfect storm. If you’re very lucky, you’ll heal up without any major complications, but most injuries require months of rehabilitation, back braces, surgery, walkers, wheel chairs and canes … if you’re lucky.
Rank horses are known for breaking backs. Most of these horses should be rodeo bucking horses, but some have snuck through the cracks and are trying to pass for riding horses. Beware of these rogue ones. Sometimes even the most gentle horse can stumble and land on you, causing a horrific injury like this one. Don’t even let your guard down around horses because they are always looking for an expensive way to hurt themselves or you.
Causes: Real a-hole horses, being bucked off, violent spookers, taking a hard fall that wasn’t planned (you know, like most of them), having a horse flip over on you … the list goes on.
Stay safe out there, Horse Nation — but heal those injuries proudly, because you’re not alone.