As an equestrian, horse-riding is likely a daily or weekly activity that brings you great enjoyment. While horse-riding is a fantastic activity that can bond you with your horse or horses, it isn’t without its risks. At the end of the day, horses are still animals and while they’re uncannily smart, they can still be spooked or react negatively to something. When this occurs and you’re standing near the horse or are on the horse’s back, the situation can become quite dangerous.
Is Riding a Horse Dangerous?
Horse riding is one of the most common activities wherever horses can be found, with the roots of the activity dating back centuries. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfectly safe. In fact, horse riding is more dangerous than common sports, including football, rugby, skiing and even riding a motorcycle. Going further, it’s been found that for riders under 15, the injury severity score was only exceeded by being hit by a car.
How Common Are Horse-Related Injuries?
To examine how common horse-related injuries are, it’s best to look at the occurrence of serious injuries, most notably traumatic brain injuries. Per 1,000 hours of participation there are 3.7 instances of TBI from horse riding. While this may not sound common on the surface, it is more common that baseball, cycling, general skiing, and more. Generally, visitors to hospitals with horse-related injuries are also facing more severe injuries than those visiting for other reasons, going to show how common and severe these injures can be.
7 Dangerous Horse-Riding Injuries
Being aware of the most common types of injuries horse riders face can help a person be prepared in the even that one of these injuries occurs. By recognizing what the injury might be, a person can help the rider receive medical assistance more accurately and faster. Keep an eye out for the following seven catastrophic injuries that a person may face while riding a horse:
- Fractured Clavicle
The clavicle, more commonly known as the collarbone, is a major part of the human body. Functioning as s a support to the shoulders, it is about six inches long and helps connect your arm to the upper torso. It is a part of the body that is commonly seen broken during equestrian accidents, as many riders tend to fall on their shoulders when falling off of a horse. It most commonly needs to be fixed with surgery and can result in your arm being in a sling for weeks at a minimum.
- Chronic lower back pain
While lower back pain may be something, you’re familiar with as an equestrian, chronic and severe lower back pain can develop over time from years of horse riding. Even if you have perfect form, the constant motion that you back is put through when riding a horse can cause tiny stress fractures to develop over time which make walking, turning, and moving in general a frustration.
- Broken metatarsal
The metatarsal is a long and thin bone in your foot that serves an important function in allowing a human to both walk and balance. Given the smaller nature of this bone, it’s a very easy point of the human body for a horse to break if it accidentally steps down on your foot. Walking will be extremely difficult and painful if this bone suffers a fracture or break, which means you will be off your feet and certainly not riding for weeks at the very least.
- Groin strain
Acute or chronic groin strain is another common side effect of horseback riding that can occur. The abductor muscles in your upper inner legs are put through great stress with the constant motion of the horse moving underneath you, and one wrong move can cause these muscles to be put through trauma. Whether the pain comes from a bucking horse or years of horseback riding, groin strain can make moving around extremely difficult.
- Head injuries
Traumatic brain injuries from horseback riding can come in a number of different shapes and forms, but some of the most common include concussion, brain hemorrhaging, soft tissue injuries, and more. Head related injuries are the leading cause of death among equestrians, which should come as no surprise, which is why wearing a helmet and protecting your head is always necessary.
- Wrist injuries
A lesser thought about injury that often results from horseback riding is a wrist injury. When falling, it’s a natural instinct to stick your arms out to try and soften the blow from the ground. However, with so much force coming from falling down off of a horse being put on your wrist, it’s normal for a fracture or break to occur. If falling, avoid sticking your hands out in front of you, as this can result in annoying injuries that take weeks or months to heal.
- Meniscal injuries
Finally, the meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides cushioning near the femur and tibia in your leg. There are two menisci in each knee joint. Any activity that puts pressure on these joints can cause a meniscus tear. Falling off of a horse is a common example for how this injury occurs, but surgery is often not used to fix this injury. Instead, allowing it to heal over time by not putting pressure on the leg is the best strategy, which means you won’t be horseback riding for a long time after.
Stay safe while out riding
Horseback riding is surprisingly dangerous, with equestrians having the strongest chance at suffering an injury simply because of how often they ride. You may trust your horse completely, but accidents do happen and being prepared for some of the most common injuries can help you seek medical treatment faster. Due to the size and strength of horses, it’s best to seek out this medical attention immediately after an accident has occurred, rather than waiting to see if the symptoms improve.
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