Documented Draggings Prevented
STI Horse Saftey Stirrups Work!
After being in the cattle business all of my life and rodeoing professionally for sixteen years, I've experienced and witnessed a few horse wrecks. I only got dragged once, but I saw a man get drug to death. But it didn't really sink in until my kids started riding.
My oldest boy, Willy, had size 11 shoes when he was about 10. So I made all of our kids split their boots down the back like a bronc rider. But that still wasn't enough, I figured more had to be done. The idea of a breakaway stirrup finally did come to me, and I know it was a blessing from above. Our number one goal at S.T.I. is to prevent draggings, whether we sell stirrups or not. In my opinion, most of the modern riding community has forgotten about the dangers of getting dragged, or just aren't aware of the risks.
A dragging occurs when a riders' foot gets caught in the stirrup and they get dragged behind their horse. Draggings most frequently occur when a horse falls or someone gets thrown. But have happened in simple tasks like a rider slipping while mounting, everyday buck offs or falls, or the rider wore tennis shoes. But unlike a dragging you might see in a movie where a stunt rider drags with a rope well behind a horse, in a real dragging your body will be right next to the horses hind legs. Those hind legs offer the greatest risk in a dragging because your body is totally exposed and with one step or a kick that 1200 lb. horse with iron shoes can do extensive damage.
After years of research, I've noticed that most of the really bad buck offs that result in head injuries come from stirrup hang ups. They didn't necessarily get dragged, but got hung up long enough to get spun around and have their bodies swung under the horse, exposing the body to the horse's hind legs. When a guy gets bucked off hard, but gets out of his stirrups clean, he'll generally land hard but probably not on his head., and probably walk the hurt off. If they do get spun around in the stirrup, that's generally where riders land on their head, or get exposed to the hind legs, and get hurt the worst.
Draggings can be prevented by proper horsemanship and the right equipment. When riding a horse with stirrups, you should be riding in boots with a defined heel and a slip top. A rider can also get hung up with their clothing, saddle accessories, or even the horses mane. Many riders never think of their rope as a potential hazard, but I've known several guys who've gotten into a wreck and wound up getting drug by their rope. To prevent this, always tie everything on your saddle "high and tight" without any loose ends. And always use small saddle strings that can break if you get hung up in it, or if a tree or fence post snags it. Never wear real baggy clothing unless it's of cheap material and could tear easily if you got hung up on your saddle horn, fence post, tree, etc..
Draggings have plagued horseback riders since the invention of the stirrup. Dragging prevention began with the use of riding boots. These boots had a defined heel to prevent a rider's foot from slipping through the stirrup. They also had an open top so if a rider got hung up, their boot might slip off before they got drug too long. This boot became known as the cowboy boot, and today it's become a popular icon in our society of the American west, however, we've forgotten the purpose for which they were created. Many modern versions of the cowboy boot have a less defined heel, and some have laces, making it impossible for that boot to slip off in a dragging situation. Speaking of the American west, who can forget the gun toting cowboys etched in time by greats like Charlie Russell. It's a common misconception that these working cowboys wore six guns because they were all gunslingers. The six gun emerged in the west as a tool of the working cowboys, so that in the event of a dragging, they could shoot their horse before they got drug to death.
With this little bit of information I hope I've given you a better understanding of what happens in a dragging and what you can do to prevent one. My family and I enjoy horseback riding, and I want to give our customers the opportunity to enjoy it safely as well.