Thursday, May 5, 2016

Preventing Horse-Related Injuries to Humans

By University of Kentucky College of
Agriculture, Food, and Environment

"Amy Lawyer, MS, equine extension associate in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Kentucky, (UK) gave a talk regarding Saddle Up Safely and the prevention of horse-related injuries to humans at the 5th Annual UK Equine Showcase, held Jan. 29 in Lexington.

Saddle Up Safely is a coalition of 40 medical, public health, and horse organizations in the United States and Canada involved in raising awareness of horse riding and handling issues and educating equestrians on how to practice safer horsemanship.

In a recent study, researchers found that 14% of individuals in emergency rooms were admitted for a horse-related injury. The actual number of people seen was lower than many other sports, but the percent of people admitted was higher, indicating that the chance of receiving a severe injury from horse activity was higher than other sports.

The researchers also found that individuals who were at the greatest risk of a serious injury, medical care that resulted in hospitalization, surgery, or permanent disability tended to be instructors or professionals. The biggest cause of injuries were from falling from a horse, followed by being kicked by a horse.

Of the 342 people that answered an online survey and shared their stories of personal horse-related accidents, 53% were intermediate riders, followed by beginner, advanced, professional, and novice. Of those individuals, 27% did not seek medical attention for their horse-related injury, while 26% were hospitalized. A total of 66% of survey respondents said that their accident/injury could have been prevented. The most common cause of injury is due to the horse spooking. Injuries were also caused by broken tack, a saddle slipping, no safety check, and incorrect leading of the horse, all of which could be avoided with safety and horsemanship training.

Lawyer said educational efforts should include teaching people about equine behavior and about how people need to behave around horses; encouraging people to ride or perform activities with horses that are suitable for their own individual ability and training level; educating riders to always perform equipment checks prior to each ride; and not coaxing a green horse into performing a maneuver that is beyond his or her skill set."

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