By Dr David Marlin
Around a year ago I ran a survey to look at stirrup use and accidents but as part of that survey we also obtained some very useful data on falls in general. We had a total of 3752 people take part, of which 97% were female equestrians – not unusual for interactions of social media. We had a good spread of ages with almost 90% between 18 and 55 years of age. The most common activities/disciplines people were involved in were pleasure riding, dressage, showjumping and eventing. The big surprise for me was that in the previous 12 months, only 84% had fallen off their horse at least once!
We defined a fall as the rider making contact with the ground. And the most likely activity for a fall wasn’t in competition, it was when hacking, schooling on the flat or schooling over show jumps. The most common reason people reported for them falling off was that the horse rapidly changed direction. Falls of riders were around 10x more common than falls of horse and rider. That is, 9/10 times the rider was probably on the floor with their horse standing over them thinking “why is she down there?”. By far the most common direction to fall was either off to the left or off to the right as opposed to out the front or back. The most commonly reported injury was to the back with a significant number of severe injuries reported; more than for any other part of the body, followed by shoulders, pelvis and arms. A relatively high number of riders also suffered some degree of head injury, despite wearing hats.
So what does this tell us? If you are female and you ride, then you are probably going to fall off at least once every ~18 months and this is probably more likely to be when hacking or schooling rather than in competition. This should not be a surprise as we spend much more time hacking or schooling than competing. This reinforces the fact that it might be wise to wear an appropriate design and correctly fitted and done-up hat and body protector at all time when riding and not just when competing.
Dr Jane Williams (Hartpury University and I will be delving into this data in much greater detail in the coming months to see what else we can gain insight into that might help you reduce your risk of a fall.
Register now for the webinar on Thursday 17th March – CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.