How Dangerous is Horse Riding?
Horseback riding is viewed as a dangerous sport due to the propensity for riders to be thrown forward from a horse and land on their upper back, neck, and head. The accident sustained by actor Christopher Reeves that ultimately paralyzed him is often held up as a prime example of the dangers of horse riding. But just how dangerous is horse riding?
There's no denying that horseback riding has an inherent danger to it due to the nature of being seated high off the ground, the unpredictable nature of horses, and riding at speed for most equestrian sports. However, the data is inconclusive as to its level of risk when compared to similar sports. At Equoware, we want you to be safe when riding, and we carry the latest in safety helmets and vests to protect you from a fall. Here's a look at the safety issues that come from riding horses:
Just How Much Danger do You Face Horseback Riding?
It's difficult to quantify just how dangerous is horse riding by comparing it to other high-risk activities. What is known is that an average of 30 million people ride horses every year, but the actual number of people reporting injuries is difficult to pin down. It's a given that injuries happen due to the nature of working around a 1,000-pound animal, but because riding and ground injuries are a feature of handling horses, most don't seek medical attention unless the injury is severe.
What is not in question is the fact that the dangers of horse riding are real. Physics is not in the favor of the rider when something goes wrong. Sitting on a horse puts a rider about six feet above the ground, causing the rider to become top-heavy. When the rider comes off the horse, the body mass is going to get propelled forward over the horse's head or shoulder with the head leading the way. One study found that, out of 24,791 injuries recorded over nine years, the most common injury was to the chest. A total of 9,189 riders had chest injuries, 6,560 had arms and leg injuries, and 5,689 riders sustained head injuries. Abdominal injuries totaled 3,353.
The odds are good that you're going to sustain an injury at some point while riding a horse. But you can take measures to minimize the severity of the injuries you sustain when you land.
The other major consideration that people often forget to keep in mind is the fact that horses are a living creature, and they can tend to be unpredictable and leery. This means that they can be prone to rearing, bucking, or side stepping with little warning, which can easily result in unseating the rider. This can open you to various dangers, depending upon where you are riding. At the very least, falling on the ground itself can be fairly painful, especially from larger heights. If you are trail riding, this can make it easy to fall on rocks. If you are riding in an arena, there a many potential hazards that you will need to watch for. It can be very painful and dangerous to collide with a jump standard or pole.
What Can I Do to Make Riding Safer?
It's important to maintain awareness of where you are in relation to your horse and pay attention when your horse takes a bad step that can unseat you. However, physical awareness of where you are in relation to your horse only goes so far. You can't always avoid a fall, but you can protect yourself against the impact of your landing with safety gear.
Always wear a helmet when riding, even when you're riding the steadiest of the horses in the barn. Other safety items include a body protector, safety stirrups with a quick release, boots with heels, and if you're riding to the jumps on the regular, invest in an inflatable safety vest that inflates when you get thrown.
Experiencing a fall from a horse is a matter of when not if. Getting yourself into the habit of wearing safety gear, even if it seems excessive at times, is the best way to make riding safer. It is possible to mitigate the dangers of horse riding with safety gear and enjoy the experience of riding without the constant worry of injury.
Check Out Our Selection of Safety Equipment at Equoware
At Equoware, we carry only the best safety equipment for our customers because we want you to have confidence in what you wear when riding. Our product lineup consists of equipment that's been tested and meets current safety standards. Come check out our selection of helmets and safety vests from the most respected manufacturers of safety equipment on our website, and make an order knowing that you're getting the best equipment on the market.