Horse Riding is a popular competitive and recreational sport in Australia and certainly around the world. The Membership in the Australian Equestrian Federation of Australia is 13800, with 28500 horses registered and 500 affiliated clubs. The Pony Club association has a membership of 5000 plus (figures quoted in 2000) To be updated once I have them.
The number of Horse Riding injuries now surpasses the number of motorcycle injuries per hour of riding. More females than males are injured and the most affected age group is 24 to 44 years old. But the most alarming number is the rate of injury is highest in the 5 to 25-year-old age group of riders. This means many of our younger riders are being injured when horse riding every year. This is the group that is most likely just starting to learn to ride.
There are many aspects of owning and riding a horse that has been addressed to improve safety and minimize injury. Numerous recommendations have been enforced, for instance, standard approved Helmets, correct fitting of gear, safe riding areas and correct matching of horse and rider have all been addressed. The teaching of coaches and riders has been accredited.
As a Horse Rider Coach, I believe the Training of Instructors and Riders is not complete and lacks Posture Riding information.
I Believe the way Horse Riders are taught to ride is not complete!
To clarify this bold statement I believe the teaching of coaches is focused on training the horse to perform and very little instruction is given to the rider about HOW TO RIDE. Many riders are left floundering and do not understand what instructors want them to do. Terms like
“Soften your Hands” !!! “Keep your leg Still”!!. “Stop Bouncing “Let go of the horses mouth”Sit Up Straight” ” More seat” HOW many ask?
All common statements. What lacks in the teaching of riders is WHAT TO DO and HOW TO DO IT. The training of the lower leg for stability and safety is rare and the use of a neck strap or saddle (monkey strap) is rarely taught. Applied Posture Riding teaches riders HOW to Ride and uses their core for everything not just riding.
For Information on The Applied Posture Riding Program go to the Home Page.
Even worse, in my opinion in the Accredited course in the Pony Club, the training to use a neck strap is wrong. This teaching I believe is contributing to the incidents of minor falls and major falls at all levels of riding.
I also acknowledge there are very many excellent riding instructors and teachers. These instructors are the ones identifying riders have problems in their body, posture and skills, and sending them to the correct professional to fix their problems. Riding instructors are not experts in posture but can identify the rider is not right. Sending them to an expert is the right thing to do.
As a rider coach, I train the rider HOW To use their core, their lower leg, and their hands this is essential for safe confident riding. All coaches aim for their pupils to be strong ,skilled and confident and establish a deep independent seat. All riders want to be safe, have fun and be skilled and very importantly not hurt their horse by bouncing on their back or pulling on their mouth, even more critical is to not be injured either from a fall or from handling the horse and the equipment around the stables.
Back pain, shoulder pain, and knee pain are the most common injuries that occur around the stables, following correct lifting and handling techniques can minimize these simple injuries. Being stepped on or knocked over of kicked are all accidents that will continue to happen. Wearing correct footwear and common sense are important but accidents still happen. Sadly many horse people learn by experience.
Locations and Types of Injury in Horse Riders
Injuries commonly occur in the upper extremities, such as the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Lower extremity injuries, involving the knee, ankle, and foot, are more frequent in rodeos and less common in other equestrian activities. Although most accidents occur while riding a horse, some take place in the stable while handling, grooming, or feeding the horse. Many riders complain of repetitive type injuries and many of these are not recorded in the statistics.
All of these types of injuries are costly, painful and time-consuming to heal.
Accidents will continue to happen but by training riders how to stabilize and be safe through the lower leg, (before training for a deep seat) by the correct teaching of the use of a neck strap and simple posture care and manual handling techniques the incidents of injuries on horses would be reduced.
I have included below a number of links to various article and blogs on injuries in horse riders.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 30 million persons ride horses. The rate of serious injury per the number of riding hours is estimated to be higher for horseback riders than for motorcyclists and automobile racers The following report uses data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to describe the epidemiology of horseback-riding-associated injuries in the United States during 1987 and 1988.During 1987 and 1988, an estimated 92,763 emergency room visits were made in the United States for injuries related to horseback riding. Although the greatest number of injuries occurred in the 25-44-year age group, injury rates were highest for 5-24-year-olds, especially for females
An estimated 30 million Americans ride horses each year. However, more than 2,300 riders under the age of 25 years are hospitalized annually because of horseback-riding injuries. The reason is that some activities, such as jumping and cross-country, are inherently risky because horses can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, travel as fast as 30 mph, and stand as tall as 3 meters high. Most injuries result from falling off the horse, which can lead to severe and sometimes fatal injuries.
Believe it or not!
Horseback riding carries a higher injury rate than motorcycle riding. On average, motorcyclists suffer an injury once every 7000 hours of riding. By contrast, an equestrian (horseback rider) may have a serious accident once every 350 hours.
The following text is quoted from the article
Equestrian injuries: a five-year review of hospital admissions in British Columbia, Canada (link below)
“Horse riding is unique in the world of sports because one of the members of the team is not human. The horse has its own athletic abilities and temperament. This athlete weighs upwards of 500 kg, moves at speeds up to 65 kph, and elevates the rider up to 3 m above the ground. The horse can change direction and speed (acceleration or deceleration) in less than a second. When a change in direction and speed occur at the same time the centrifugal force is impressive. This team must be in absolute harmony to execute even the simplest maneuvers. The motorcyclist, for example, has a much more predictable partner, although balance and surface conditions are important to both motorcycle and horse riders.
Other significant differences are the teeth and metal shoes of the horse. Both can inflict serious injury to horse handlers on the ground. A significant number of injuries (30%–40%) occur to persons on the ground near the horse.1–3
Few statistics are available on the number of equestrian injuries. British Columbia (BC), with 75 000 horses, ranks fifth among Canadian provinces for horse population and there are an estimated 33 000 riders in BC (DVM Olson, Agriculture Canada; personal communication, October 1997). The rate of serious injuries in horseback riding has been reported to be one per 350 to one per 1000 hours of riding2 in the USA. This research was undertaken to gain some knowledge of Canadian statistics. ”
To read the whole article follow the link below.
The following link is a particularly good article in that its recommendation for safety covers many areas of horse riding and horse care.
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Enjoy Annette Willson Author Applied Posture Riding