Equestrian Safety

ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation
Equestrian Safety

Think First About …

Death and Injury Statistics

  • In the year 1999, 15,000 horse injuries to children ages 15 and under required emergency room visits. 3
  • The most frequent cause of death and serious injury for mounted and dismounted horse activities is head injury. 4
  • Head injuries are associated with approximately 60% of all equestrian deaths and 18% of equestrian injuries. 5
  • Aside from death, brain injury survivors may suffer personality changes, intellectual and memory impairment, or epilepsy. 6
  • Only 20% of equestrians wear protective headgear every time they ride. 7
  • Falling or being thrown from a horse accounts for the majority of mounted injuries, while being kicked or trodden on accounts for most dismounted injuries. 8
  • Dismounted injuries require hospitalization approximately 42% of the time, while mounted injuries require hospitalization in only 30% of incidents. 9
  • Fractures, soft tissue damage, and head injuries are the most common types of injuries inflicted by horses. 10
  • The arm, leg and head/face are the most common body parts to be injured. 11

When and Where Injuries Are Most Likely to Occur

  • 80% of horse-related injuries take place while a rider is in the saddle. 12
  • Only 20% of injuries occur while the horse is being handled. 13
  • The majority of horse-related injuries occur while riding for pleasure. 14

Who Is Most Likely to Incur This Type of Injury?

  • Equestrian injuries are much more common among females than males. 15
  • The average age of an injured equestrian is between 10 and 19. 16
  • Riders with 5 or more years of experience are more likely to be injured. 17
  • Riding English style is more dangerous than any other style of horseback riding. 18
  • Riders who spend 15-24 hours each month on horses are more likely to be injured. 19

Health Costs

  • Lifetime costs for acute head injury can be over $3 million. 20
  • The cost per day for the treatment of acute head injury is $25,000. 21

Prevention Tips

  • Always wear an equestrian helmet that meets ASTM standards and is SEI certified.
  • Supervise riding at all times.
  • Ride with children under 6.
  • Ensure that both the horse and riding activity are appropriate for the child’s skill level. • Never tie a child to the horse or saddle.
  • Always wear boots or shoes with a heel and covered ankle when using stirrups.
  • Ensure that all equipment is free of damage and secured.
  • Prior to mounting a horse, fasten the harness. Do not unfasten it until after dismounting.
  • Be aware of anything that may spook your horse.

Still Not Convinced?

  • Always wear an equestrian helmet that meets ASTM standards and is SEI certified.
  • Supervise riding at all times.
  • Ride with children under 6.
  • Ensure that both the horse and riding activity are appropriate for the child’s skill level.
  • Never tie a child to the horse or saddle.
  • Always wear boots or shoes with a heel and covered ankle when using stirrups.
  • Ensure that all equipment is free of damage and secured.
  • Prior to mounting a horse, fasten the harness. Do not unfasten it until after dismounting.
  • Be aware of anything that may spook your horse.

Sources

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19http://www.marshfieldclinic.org/research/children/Resources/Equestrian/FactSheet.htm
  2. 5, 7, 12, 13http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/FS00/FS0023.htm
  3. 6, 14, 20, 21 www.horsequest.com/journal/articles/helmet2.htm
  4. 22http://www.nyshc.org/safe_horses_safe_riders.html
Posted on BrainLine April 29, 2011

From the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation.Used with permission. www.thinkfirst.org.

Comments

According to your article, 18% of injuries are head injuries.  Yet we are often told that helmets reduce up to 80% of injuries.

I'm no mathematician, but this does not add up.  At 56, I've had several falls, and a helmet would not have prevented a single one of my injuries, including my TBI (for those who are unaware, ALL concussions are traumatic brain injuries.)

Bottom line, helmets DO prevent head injuries, but nothing close to what we've been told over the years.  They prevent ONLY the skull from damage.  And that can happen with any fall, so please don't toss the helmet to the corner.  My first TBI was at the age of 16 when my horse stumbled.  You don't need to be on a bronc, or jumping fences, to be hurt.  Helmets are a good idea...the numbers they're throwing at us, however, are BS.

Current helmet designs don't protect against traumatic brain injuries. Only against skull fractures. Design changes are needed. A rigid impenetrable shell lined with shock absorbing foam is the answer in my opinion.

Helmets are not enough to protect the brains of our teenage equestrians.  Coaches and parents need to monitor teenage equestrians for concussions with the same vigilance that coaches and parents now monitor teenage football players.  We now recognize the devastating effects that repeated concussions have on the brains of teenage football players.  And they are wearing helmets when they play football.  Why aren't we paying similar attention to equestrian concussions?  The force with which the head of an equestrian slams into the ground during a fall is many times greater than the force on the head of a football player during an accident on the field.  If helmets aren't protecting the heads of our teenage football players, why would we think helmets would protect the heads of equestrians?  Of course, equestrian helmets are important.  But they are providing a false sense of security.  Our teenage equestrians (the majority of which are girls) deserve that save protection from long term head trauma that our teenage (mostly male) football players receive from coaches and parents.

The statistics speaks that it is very dangerous to ride with the horse with out your helmet. Your whole body must be protected like wearing boots, gloves, and vest. You don't know when the accident can happen.

http://www.horse-show-schedules.com/horse-riding-gear/

MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN TOLD HE HAS TBI AMONG OTHER PROBLEMS, SO NOW WE ARE JOBLESS AND ABOUT TO BE HOME LESS WHILE WAITING FOR DISIBLITY. WHAT CAN WE DO. I CRY EVERY DAY. LINDA COONS ST.ALBANS VERMONT 05478. PHONE NUMBER IS 802-309-1722. PLEASE SOMEONE HELP. OUR STATE HAS NOTHING HERE FOR THINGS LIKE TBI...

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