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Recovering from rotational fall

Several weeks ago, I was cantering my older horse in the riding ring and he tripped and fell, flipping over on top of me…just missing my head. I ended up with 8 broken rips, 4 spine fractures and a broken scapula. My horse was okay. Has anyone else had this happen to them before? It was scary as hell…


So sorry to hear about your accident. I’ve never had a rotational fall but just wanted to send you hugs and healing thoughts. Hang in there! :kissing_heart:

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Thank you :slight_smile:

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Oh gosh, that is scary. I had a rotational once but was thrown to the side so I just had a concussion. Another time a horse flipped over backwards on me. I didn’t go to the hospital, because I was young and thought I was a cowboy, but i couldn’t lift my left leg more than 6 inches off the ground for about 3 months; something in my lower back would catch when I stood up from a crouch for about 4 years, and, about 20 years later, I discovered that my pelvis is unfixably crooked. It made me not like horses who rear.

I am wishing you a good and fast recovery.

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Yikes! Sending you lots of healing vibes.

I have never been injured nearly as badly as you have been, despite some pretty gnarly falls.

But I just wanted to remind you to give yourself grace and time to heal both physically and mentally. I hurt myself a lot in my youth and always thought I was supposed to get back on as quickly as possible and ride through any physical or mental anguish I was experiencing. Only now in middle age do I realize that was not only stupid, but it caused a lot of problems that still affect me today. Everything from bad position in the saddle to defensive fears that still bubble up from my subconscious. In the last few years have I recognized how many of my problems in the saddle are directly related to never dealing with past accidents properly.


That sounds like a really scary fall and I’m glad you weren’t even more badly hurt! I second what @Texarkana said. Take it slow and be easy on yourself, as you would on your horse if they were the one recovering from a trauma.

I had a rotational fall on the flat at the trot in 2021. I wasn’t injured nearly as badly as you were (broken ankle, minor shoulder injury, probably an undiagnosed mild concussion) and it still took me quite a few months to recover physically and mentally. As far as the mental aspect, I think it was extra tough because I was doing something very routine that I do almost every ride, just trotting along on the flat. It sounds like your fall was similar. That can really mess with your head because you don’t feel like you were taking much of a risk, as far as riding activities go.

For me, the riskiest aspect of it was that I was riding an unfamiliar horse, which was for sale–obviously I did not buy the horse as I’m pretty sure it must have had a neurological issue! In addition to stumbling in the first place, the horse kicked himself into a rotation with his hind feet and then flopped around on top of me for about 20 seconds until the seller ran over and yanked him up by the bridle. That was a very long 20 seconds. I couldn’t get away because the horse was on my leg and I was pretty sure I was going to die getting kicked in the head or crushed. The helpless feeling was hard to get over. For a while I could still hear myself calling for help, in a voice I didn’t know I had. I was also 2.5 hours away from home but thankfully I was able to drive myself home before it all really sunk in.

Weirdly, I didn’t have subsequent confidence issues jumping solid cross-country jumps, when a rotational fall is much more likely, because my event horse is amazing and I trust him to take care of us while acknowledging that it’s inherently dangerous. I did have some mental issues when I bought a lightly-started 3-year-old later in the year. He’s not spooky and never did anything really naughty, just the occasional baby porpoising along with being a huge mover and light in the contact. However, for about the first 6 months I couldn’t trust him, relax, or have fun on him. I liked him on the ground but on his back I felt precarious and I really did not want to end up underneath a horse ever again. I would be riding in a lesson and he’d be going great but I’d be thinking to myself that I just wasn’t enjoying it. I came close to tears in lessons a few times, which I think was due to a combination of fear along with frustration that I had this absurdly nice horse I wasn’t enjoying.

The good news is that I did get past it. Two things helped, which may or may not be remotely relevant to you but I’ll share anyway. Well, three I guess, with the first and most universal one being time. Second, I sent the young horse to my dressage coach for a month. After riding him she said she could see why I was struggling because he didn’t have the buttons installed to be truly rideable. She made him a lot more through, correct, and honest so I had tools to use and didn’t feel like I was riding a tangle of legs anymore. I felt quite defeated sending him off because I generally do all my own riding, but it was a very good move. Third, my coach affirmed that the saddle I was riding him in was not helping me feel secure. It’s strange because I’ve had that saddle for 23 years and rode a previous horse up to Grand Prix dressage in it, but on this horse it made me feel like I was sliding around and could fly off at any moment. I bought an older used KN that wasn’t even made all that differently from my old Passier (no crazy thigh blocks or anything) but it fit him better and I felt much more secure in it. Between that and her training, I immediately felt much more confident on him.

Fast-forward a year and I am completely comfortable on him no matter what he does (and he does have occasional baby moments even though nothing is malicious). He is even fancier now, in addition to being beautiful and extremely sweet on the ground, and I’m so glad I stuck with him. Until starting to write all this down, I had actually forgotten about that period of fear, so thank you for the reminder of our progress!

Oh and the other thing that freaked me out for a while, weirdly, was driving the tractor on hills. I was sure it was going to roll over and crush me. That went away too, and I didn’t even have to send the tractor out for training or buy it a new seat! :rofl:

Hugs to you and I hope you can be in a better place physically and mentally very soon!


I have never experienced a rotational fall myself, but I had one happen right in front of me hacking one night in the indoor. I was following a pony and her rider - didn’t see why she stumbled - and she literally did a somersault with the rider on. It was very scary. Rider was okay (young kid) and pony was “fine”. As an adult amateur who didn’t start riding until almost 40, it scared the bejeezus out of me and created a fear I hadn’t previously given thought to.

The third horse I owned was a 4 year old warmblood with a club left front. He went down to his knees twice with me. The first time I somersaulted over his head and only ended up with a shattered pinky. The second time, I was riding in a clinic. He dropped the left front in the middle of an oxer, hit the back rail and went down to his knees. I landed flat on my back and did some major damage to my lumbar/coccyx area. I had paid a lot of money for the clinic, so I took something for pain and hopped back on.

The fear took a long time to go away. I hope you heal well and you don’t rush back before your body agrees it is okay.


Very good advice that many, many riders can benefit from no matter how bad the fall.

Great advice too @Libby2563 and glad to hear the fear faded over time.

I hope you heal well both physically and mentally @beatrice32 .