http://somersortho.com) has some tips on riding a half-ton animal.
You think motorcycles can be tricky!
Thirty million people ride horses each year in the US. About 200,000 are injured, with as many as 70,000 seen in ERs.
A horse weighs up to 1,300 pounds and can travel at 30 mph. Every sort of injury can occur, with the most common being to spine, neck, and head.
The first step is to ride an appropriate horse. If the horse is too large or feisty, back off.
Always wear a helmet that meets safety standards. This means it is an equestrian helmet--not a motorcycle or bike helmet. (When I went to find a pix--almost none pictured had a helmet--cowboy hats don't count.)
Have an instructor make sure your boots (one-inch heel) are matched to the stirrups. If you are inexperienced, consider safety stirrups that break away so you are not dragged.
Inspect all equipment for wear or breakage.
Never ride alone--also take lessons.
Horses can be erratic, spooked by loud noises, dogs, insects, camera flashes.
Always approach a horse from the front or rear. They can kick!
We had a horse when I was a kid--it would bite--it's huge yellow teeth audibly snapping around trying to get our legs.
Good times, good times.