UK Rider Reported Falls in a 12-month period: Circumstances & Consequences

David Marlin, J. M. Williams

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Anecdotally, horse-riding is a “dangerous sport”, often grouped with activities such as motorcycling, skiing, parachuting, bull-riding, and rugby. This opinion is increasingly supported by evidence from retrospective analysis of trauma centre admissions for equestrian related incidents (ERI’s), albeit from relatively low numbers. The most common approach to reducing severity of ERI’s has focussed on encouraging the wearing of riding helmets and to a lesser extent, air-jackets and or body-protectors. Horse riders in the UK were surveyed to ascertain their experience of falls while riding in the preceding 12 months. A total of 3757 responses were received with a subset of 1977 complete surveys analysed. The majority of respondents were female (97%, n= 1914). Falling off once in the last 12 months was most common (53.4%; n=1055); 24.2% (n=478) had fallen off twice, 11.4% (n=225) three times and 6.5% (n=129) more than 5 times. Respondents were asked to specify the activity they were undertaking when their last fall occurred; hacking/trail riding (25.9%; n=513), schooling on the flat (25.8%; n=511) and showjumping schooling (19.4%; n=384) were the three most common activities where falls took place. Horses changing direction rapidly (40.9%; n = 808) or rearing/bucking (23.8%; n = 470) were the most common reasons for rider falls, with most (73%; n = 1443) riders falling off the side of the horse. Riders were most likely in injure their back (51%; n = 1008), shoulders (39%; n = 771) or pelvis (37%; n = 731) when they fell off, but most injuries were self-rated as minor. Severe injuries as a result of a fall were more common when the riders’ head, back, shoulder or ankle was injured. A variety of factors appear to be involved in rider falls from horses, and many of these may be modifiable and hence preventable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 May 2024

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