How do they safely do stunts with horses in Westerns?

In old, and even recent, Westerns we often see someone riding a horse, then the horse is shot and takes a big tumble.  In battle and chase scenes they frequently show horses falling or stumbling.

But when a horse breaks a leg in the movies, they have to kill it.  How can they film such violent spills, with horses rolling and crashing to the ground, when the consequences of an injury are so serious?

How do they do the horse stunts in Westerns without injuring the horses?

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When they show the horse falling or being shot, its not a real horse, its usually a mechanical horse. If you look when its falling the camera angle pulls out so you dont get a good look at the horse.

You know what the trouble about real life is? There's no danger music.

I recently read a wonderful book about horse actors.If you are into this sort of thing, you should read it also. It tells all about how the horses are trained to take falls and so on.The utmost care is taken for the horses safety. The humane society is on location to ensure they are being treated properly.If you watch some of the old westerns where a horse is acting wild especially up close with people, it is often a stallion and he IS acting.When the director says,"Cut!", the horse will actually quit "acting". Its amazing! Any way, the book is called Hollywood Hoofbeats by Petrine Day Mitchum ( daughter of Robert Mitchum) with Audrey Pavia.

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