Study: Some riders prioritize the safety of the horse above their own

3 min.

An international research study shows that many riders and horse owners worldwide do not spent too much time discussing safety around horses. Even though accidents are frequent in the equestrian sport. The study does however, uncover many riders willingness to put the horses’ wellbeing above their own.


Riding helmet always does the trick – or does it? 

For many years riding has been a direct factor in the number of head injuries. Today, the amount of injuries are fortunately decreasing because of an increased focus on wearing helmets. In small country like Denmark approximately 7500 people end up in the emergency room every year because of riding accidents.
Some cases are of course more serious than others and about 1 to 2 people loose their life every year due to an accident involving horses. All in all, riding takes fourth place of sports (in Denmark) with the highest number of accidents. A lot has already been done to lower these number, but is it enough?
In an international study a team of scientists from Australia asked 1273 riders from 25 different countries about their opinion safety with horses. For the most part, the respondents believed that if they wore a riding helmet their safety would pretty be covered.

You may also like to read: Equestrian safety: Can you ride with a concussion? 

Impossible to control safety 

In the equestrian world it can be very difficult to predict an accident. Horses react extremely fast when they are suddenly frightened, and many riders are not fast enough react and avoid the accident. This way of thinking is very obvious in the research as well. Here 10 % of the respondents answered that they did not believe they had any influence on how to avoid accidents. Scientists are of the opinion that by focussing more on safety it will also prevent some of them from happening.  

When riding becomes a livelihood safety awareness disappears 

The equestrian world is tough if you want to make it your living. However, some people do and when the work days get very hectic, and money might be tight some months, it can be difficult stay totally focused on prioritising safety. On this note, the study reveals that people who make their living in the horse industry are much more likely to take risks and make sure that the horses’ wellbeing is perfect before take care of themself. 

The safety of the horse versus the rider 

25 % of the respondents admitted that they put the safety of the horse before their own. It can somehow be difficult to understand, but researchers believe it is a combination of several things. Horses have through history had an extreme importance for humans. They have had a crucial role in a making sure to secure food for the family in term of field work. Back in the old days they even participated in wars together with soldiers. Today this close bond is still there just in a very different way.

Do you have a safety plan? 

Due to the research, scientists believe that to achieve a more safe environment there needs to be more dialog about it among riders. It is important to look at your stable and have it checked thoroughly. Have a good talk with the other riders. What are their experiences and concerns when it comes to safety? Of course, a riding helmet is very important, but does not solve all problems.  

How to increase safety
• Do not challenge yourself and the horse too much – be realistic of your own skills
• Choose riding on older and more calm horses
• Practise during calm hours without too many interferences
• Avoid roads with a lot of traffic. Use reflexes when you are riding in heavy traffic or darkness
• Make sure the horse is wearing the correct horseshoes customized to the weather and substrate
• Avoid very complicated and risky terrain
• Be careful riding in the forest with narrow passages and dense vegetation
• Have a good basic training (both strength and condition)
• Make sure that both you and the horse is resilient and flexible
• Use other protective equipment
• Make sure to have first aid kit
• Have a qualified first aid helpers nearby
• If the accident should happen make sure to get the rehabilitation you need


Do you want to know more? Check out the research here.  

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