The responsibility of caring for a horse, and the companionship that develops while riding a horse, can be extremely rewarding. However, due to the size, speed and sometimes unpredictable nature of a horse, proper safety precautions should be taken to avoid serious injury. According to the American Medical Equestrian Association, head injuries account for 60 percent of deaths due to equestrian accidents in the United States. Due to the popularity of horseback riding in our area, equestrian-related injuries are among the top five injuries most commonly treated at both Parker Adventist Hospital and Littleton Adventist Hospital emergency departments.
About 12 to 15 million people in the United States ride a horse or pony.
That’s why the American Medical Equestrian Association/Safe Riders Foundation, with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, recommend that all horseback riders wear a properly fitted, certified equestrian helmet with a secured harness when riding. The financial and emotional costs of an acute head injury can be staggering. Properly fitted helmets can prevent death and reduce the severity of head injuries.Be sure you wear a properly fitted, certified equestrian helmet with a secured harness when riding. Other types of helmets, including bike helmets, are inadequate.
At Centura Health, we’re committed to promoting public awareness of equestrian-related injuries, injury prevention, public safety and the importance of wearing an equestrian helmet. Our equestrian safety program has distributed more than 800 helmets.
It is important to know what to do if a horse-related injury occurs. When in doubt, call 911 immediately. Ambulance and rescue personnel are specially trained to treat trauma-related injuries and can provide pain management and proper splinting, if necessary.
Additional horse-related injury precautions include:
- If a rider/handler is injured, notify any on-site emergency personnel immediately. If no medical help is available, and CPR is necessary, start CPR until rescue personnel arrives if you are properly trained to administer CPR.
- If a rider/handler is injured, or is experiencing pain in the abdomen, legs, arms, back, head or neck, do not attempt to move them. An injury may be worsened by movement.
- If a rider/handler has isolated bleeding, apply pressure with a clean towel; if bone is exposed, apply pressure above the wound opening only if there is active, vigorous bleeding.
- If a rider/handler is unconscious, not breathing or has no palpable pulse, call 911 immediately and start CPR.
- Do not give food or water to an injured rider/handler until he/she has been medically evaluated.
- If a rider/handler has experienced minor injuries and is alert and conscious, you can take them to the nearest emergency department/trauma center. Drive carefully and do not speed. This increases your chances of getting into an accident and speeding may also cause additional injuries to the hurt individual.
- If you are transporting an injured person to the hospital, and their condition worsens enroute, pull over to the side of the road and call 911, or stop at the nearest fire station.
- In the presence of any pain or change in mental functioning, it’s best to be medically evaluated before returning to equestrian activities.