Riding and reflections on risk
 
 

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Riding and reflections on risk

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        01-03-2012, 08:10 AM
      #1
    Yearling
    Riding and reflections on risk

    I read a lot of mountaineering and climbing literature (and do it myself, albeit at a very low level) and as I was reading a mountaineering book yesterday, it occurred to me that one of the most prevalent themes in such literature is people obsessing over the risks of death or injury associated with climbing. I then considered that horseback riding is also a pretty high risk sport and statistically just as dangerous, if not more so, than mountaineering, yet people don't tend to write entire essays or books on why they ride when it is such a dangerous activity. The danger and risk is just not as much a part of the general zeitgeist of the sport, thus the question I thought I'd throw to the forum, then, is why this might be the case.

    Discuss.
         
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        01-03-2012, 09:28 AM
      #2
    Banned
    I think there is a bit of a difference in the sports. In climbing, you are on your own. With riding you are on the back of a huge, prey animal who thinks (most of the time) the complete opposite to humans.

    Is riding dangerous? Yes, there are risks and it can be dangerous, but I think the risks can be greatly reduced if more people were more aware that knowledge and a good foundation can reduce these risks.

    I see and hear far too many people who have 'problems' with their horses and yet they are still riding them because they are looking for fixes while in the saddle when (in my opinion) they should not be riding the horse at all yet - and this is where I think 'riding becomes very dangerous'.

    Sorry if this doesn't answer your question very well.
         
        01-03-2012, 09:41 AM
      #3
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConfusciusWasAGreatTeachr    
    I think there is a bit of a difference in the sports. In climbing, you are on your own. With riding you are on the back of a huge, prey animal who thinks (most of the time) the complete opposite to humans.

    Is riding dangerous? Yes, there are risks and it can be dangerous, but I think the risks can be greatly reduced if more people were more aware that knowledge and a good foundation can reduce these risks.

    I see and hear far too many people who have 'problems' with their horses and yet they are still riding them because they are looking for fixes while in the saddle when (in my opinion) they should not be riding the horse at all yet - and this is where I think 'riding becomes very dangerous'.

    Sorry if this doesn't answer your question very well.
    There is no answer. But climbing is usually not something you do on your own, unless you are one of those climbers who solos routes (climbs without ropes and gear). They are properly mad. You usually have at least one partner on the other end of your rope. Most of the stuff you have to learn, how to use the ropes and the gear, is done to minimize the risk and you can certainly limit yourself to routes which have lots of protection so as to avoid long run outs and decrease to some degree the risk of decking it. Still, sh*t happens -- weather changes, rocks fall off mountains, you're forced to make that emergency abseil with a dodgy anchor, stuff like that. Similarly with riding, you can take steps to minimize the risk, say by training your horse and riding horses who are within your ability to handle, but as with climbing, there's always an element of unpredictability to it.

    I guess what I am scratching at is what seems to me to be a different perception of risk amongst many participants in the sport. As I said, what got me thinking about this was how much of the mountaineering literature is devoted to obsessing about the dangers of the sport, whereas less danger-related navel gazing goes on amongst horseback riders.
         
        01-03-2012, 09:47 AM
      #4
    Super Moderator
    One won't see his bullet coming. You can train as hard as you want, ride the safest horses in the safest conditions, wear all the safety gear, and still - accidents happen. Serious accidents happen as well. I like to think that every time I mount my horse - or any horse at all - I trust him my entire life and health. :) And it calms me more than it makes me nervous - helps being relaxed and just follow the stream, be ready for anything and enjoy it at the same time.

    And, in general, everything can involve risk. So I better choose the risk that makes me happy - riding. :)
    Phantomcolt18 likes this.
         
        01-03-2012, 10:31 AM
      #5
    Started
    For me personally since I climb and ride the risk difference to me is climbing is more dangerous. Yes in both sports there is the same or even more danger involved in one then the other.

    Riding I have always had to worry/think about oh I am riding an animal have to be aware of my surrondings and understand they have brains to. They think and react to things differently. And one scary object could be the result of an injury. Also for non horsey people they just think of an animal. Since most only react to dogs or cats they assume for most part the horse reacts the same. Which we all know they don't.

    When I climb I do so by myself. I would rather only risk my life and no one elses when I climb nor would I want to rely on someone else in the chance they messed up and put my life in danger. Rocks don't have minds but the goal is different.. you want to climb to the highest point. The higher you climb the less you have to rely on. You only have access to the tools/gear you bring including yourself. If your head isnt in it even for a split second a fall or problem can occur. A slip or fall from even 3 feet could be dangerous just because of all the rock surfaces around.

    Not saying something can't happen when riding like that but for most people your not trying to climb to the higest peak with your horse but to go somewhere in the arena or travel across a trail whether it is a race or not. The horse even on your bad day can save your life or not where as you on a bad day climbing 90% of time kills you either from the fall or strangling yourself on your own ropes (which is possible and have seen happen). And from what I have seen there are more dangers to newbies in climbing then any newbie to riding. Which is why I think there is more danger articles for climbing then riding.

    Just from experience I would still say climbing is more dangerous. But both sports should have there precautions as both cause injury or death.

    Sorry that was long :/
         
        01-03-2012, 12:52 PM
      #6
    Yearling
    I think it has to do with how public accidents are. We don't hear of many horse-related accidents on the news, but a climbing accident is often sensationalized. Perhaps this is because when a climber or a mountaineer gets into a bad situation, public service authorities and resources often have to be brought in to help them. The remoteness of these accidents also require extensive equipment (i.e. Helicopters, rescue teams, etc) that make these rescues much higher profile and more newsworthy. Most horse accidents occur in easy to get to places serviced by a standard ambulance so it is not such a big deal.

    I also ride motorcycles, a sport that is perceived to be very high risk. Statistically speaking, I believe riding horses is riskier, however, this is not the perception. Again, I think it has to do with public image. Motorcycles travel on public roadways, so when there is an accident, it is often out in plain view for everyone to see. In addition, when there is an accident, the carnage (pieces of bike parts flying across the road) is striking. Horse accidents are not. Injuries and damage are more frequently internal and not as visible. Horse accidents are also more frequently limited to horse-related venues and witnessed more by horsey people, not the general public.

    There are also differences in the likelihood of death in different sports. The risk of injury on a horse is much greater, but the risk of death may be less than with mountain climbing or motorcycling.
         
        01-03-2012, 07:39 PM
      #7
    Yearling
    I tend to think that because most countries were found and built on the back of a horse, and humans have such long history on horseback, many forget how dangerous of a sport it can be.

    I personally think its a risky sport, and take every precaution I can. But, since horses are somehow part of my genetic makeup, the risks don't outweigh rewards
         
        01-03-2012, 07:58 PM
      #8
    Trained
    I know of the studies that claim riding horses is 20 times riskier than riding motorcycles. One such is this one:
    "Horse riding carries a high participant morbidity and mortality. Whereas a motor-cyclist can expect a serious incident at the rate of 1 per 7000 h, the horse-rider can expect a serious accident once in every 350 h, ie 20 times as dangerous as motor cycling."
    Spinal injuries resulting from horse riding accidents

    However, I doubt horse riding for most is as dangerous as climbing cliffs, or riding a motorcycle. With motorcycle riding, the risk is more equally distributed. The main danger for most comes from other drivers not seeing them, and pulling out at the last second. I wouldn't mind getting a cycle again for riding in the desert, but you couldn't pay me to ride one thru Tucson.

    With horse riding, it is easier to reduce risk. Much of the risk is concentrated into jumping & training new horses. Even there, much of the risk can be managed by paying attention to the horse, getting instruction, and not pushing the limits.

    As mentioned before, most horse related injuries are broken shoulders, arms, wrists, or lower back. Horse riding is more dangerous than most non-riders realize, but the typical rider is not at horrible risk of death or head injury. The risk is always there, but it isn't very high unless you push yourself and your horse to the limits.
         
        01-04-2012, 01:42 PM
      #9
    Yearling
    I agree with bsms that horse related injuries are not as serious, but I disagree that riding horses is a more manageable risk than riding motorcycles.

    The majority of motorcycle crashes occur because of rider error... usually speed, alcohol, lack of experience or pushing the limits. While other cars do pose a risk to motorcyclists, traffic moves in predictable patterns. The motorcyclist can minimize his / her risk by following those predictable patterns, riding defensively and with conspicuity. A motorcyclist knows how to stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles and to ride to increase visibility with other vehicles. The motorcycle itself responds to the rider and does nothing more and nothing less (ignoring unexpected mechanical failure and unnoticed road hazards).

    A horse rider can manage their risk of injury by selecting a suitably "safe" mount and through extensive training. Generally, the horse will do what the rider cues him, assuming the cues are transmitted clearly and appropriately. There is also an additional element of unpredictability in the horse because he is an animal who can think and respond for himself despite the riders guidance. The horse is highly sensitive to every part of his environment (not just the road surface) and can unpredictably respond in a multitude of ways. Even the best trained horses can "blow up" under the right circumstances.

    I think most motorcyclists (at least those I ride with) recognize the risk and do all they can to minimize it (ride safely, ATTGAT). Many people don't acknowledge the full risk on horseback. They tend to humanize the horse and assume their "best friend" or that "gentle creature" would never hurt them. Also, I believe there is much more skill involved in effectively and riding a horse than in riding a motorcycle, but I would guess more unskilled people would be willing to get on a horse for the first time than to take a motorcycle for a spin when they have never ridden before.

    I have been riding horses for 30+ years and bikes for around 6 years. I put somewhere around 8-10,000 km a year on my motorcycle both on and off road and ride my horses about 2-3 times a week. I am much more comfortable and confident riding my bike through a large city in rush hour traffic than I am going down an unknown trail or riding in a new place with my horses (and they are all well broke). I do ride my bike alone, often, but rarely ride my horses alone, and almost never alone in unknown environments. When engaged in either sport I do everything I can to minimize risk.

    As for mountain climbing, I cannot comment as I have never climbed a steep face and only hiked up with a group. This is not a sport I would ever do by myself.
         
        01-04-2012, 02:53 PM
      #10
    Started
    In everything there are risks and ways to minimize them. Its up to the person to minimize there risks :)

    But after reading the publicty (Sp) post I have to agree with that. You do get more attention during injuries because of the public outlook at parks where you can climb. Where as at horse show or events is a limited crowd.
         

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