Horse riders are considered by insurers to be 20 times more likely to be injured than motorcyclists.

Doctors in Kentucky, USA, recently published a study looking at the pattern of injury
of patients admitted to state hospitals with horse-related trauma.

Kentucky has a large equine population and a considerable human workforce and pleasure group involved with horses.

The doctors wondered if there was a pattern of injury in riders compared with those handling horses on the ground.

They analysed the hospital records of 284 patients admitted for horse-related trauma. The two most common causes of injury were a fall from a horse while riding or a kick while handling one on the ground.

Serious head injuries were equally common in mounted and unmounted people, although in riders the head injuries were sustained by impact from falling whereas handlers were more typically kicked in the head.

More than a third of all admissions were for a fracture — most likely a leg, for riders, and facial for handlers. Analysis of injuries to bodily regions revealed that riders were more likely to suffer chest or leg injuries, while handlers were more at risk from serious injury to face or abdomen.

More people were killed by a kick to the head than from a fall from the horse, although these numbers were very small. The doctors concluded that horses are indeed dangerous — and asked why so few interacting with them wear safety equipment such as helmets.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (18 September 2014)

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