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Horse riding might not be as dangerous as we think — according to a new survey.

The research — conducted by UK healthcare provider Beneden — made a comparison between people’s attitudes towards popular sports and the number of reported injuries.

The results showed that sports that were perceived to be hazardous were often less risky than “safer” pastimes such as running.

The public rated riding as the third most dangerous sport after boxing and rugby, with 13.5% of respondents thinking it posed the greatest risk.

But in reality, just 2.3% of people reported having been injured while riding — suggesting it is less likely to cause harm than many other popular activities.

The top three most dangerous sports were football (18.9%); running (9.4%) and rubgy (4.9%). Football was six times more risky than people perceived, while just 1% of people quizzed thought running would lead to harm.

Cycling was the fourth greatest cause of injuries (4.5%), followed by swimming (3.2%), weightlifting/bodybuilding (3%); tennis (2.8%) and martial arts (2.8%). Horse riding was left trailing near the bottom of the list, with only badminton players reporting fewer problems (2.3%).


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Feedback also showed that parents were actively discouraging their children from participating in sports they considered to be dangerous. The survey revealed that 74% would not allow their children to take up boxing, while 37% prevented their offspring from playing rugby.

The research did not reveal at what level participants were riding, or if they had had simply had less exposure to some of the activities.

Previous studies have shown that some equestrian disciplines pose a much greater risk than others. Dr Bruce Paix’s 1999 study revealed that the level of risk to eventers was 70 times higher than that of horse riding in general. For eventers competing at the highest levels, risk was 180 times greater.