Hi, I'm a newbie, I never rode a horse before. I got interested in riding not so long ago. I'm looking forward to start English-style riding in the summer.
I understand that horseback riding is a very dangerous sport. However, is it so dangerous in every form? I read/saw that most severe injuries occur when trying to jump over obstacles, or during races.
I'm not interested in any of those activities, I just want to master the different gaits, and do field riding (or what it's called, going into the nature with the horse), doing it safely, by walking and trotting, perhaps with occasional caters or gallops if the terrain is safe. No fancy jumping, maybe jumping over a log in the woods...
Now, I understand that you can never rule out injuries, as after all it's an animal you're riding. But by not going to the "extreme" side of the sport, paying attention to avoid kicks, and wearing protective gear (helmet and back protector), can the probability of suffering severe injuries be minimised? By severe I mean which causes irreparable damage, or an injury that lasts more than let's say a month. Minor injuries are okay I guess, I'm willing to take smaller risks, I just don't want to be playing with my life.
If taking these measures into account, can it be said that riding is not any more dangerous than other, non-extreme sports? If not, how bad is it?
Any comment is appreciated :) Please forgive any technical/conceptual mistakes, I'm new to this sport.
5 pages and I'm lazy. Meaning I'm not going to read them so I know I'll be repeating things that I'm sure have already been said, but perhaps not all.
There is no way to eliminate the potential risks that come with dealing with horses.
Yes, there are some equine activities that carry a greater risk of severe injury (i.e. fatal or life altering), but the risk is always there to some degree no matter what you do with a horse. The same can be said for riding in a car, hiking in the mountains, or any number of other activities, but we'll just address horses here.
If we want to look at overall statistics for riding horses you have the greatest odds of injuring your upper extremities (arms/hand). Next comes your lower extremities (legs/feet). Then your torso is next. Then finally the head/neck which use to account for the smallest percentage at almost 10% of equine related injuries. Now that was just base statistics for all equine activities combined. When you start breaking it out to specific activities the order doesn't really change, but the odds do. For example. If you remove jumping from the equation then the number of head and neck injuries (they combine them since they would be too small individually) drops dramatically. That is because over 75% of the equine related head and neck injuries were related to jumping so you're jumping you have incredibly better odds of suffering a head or neck injury than you would from most other equine activities. All of the fatalities and permanent disabling injuries that I know of personally (which I grant is a very small %) have all been the result of jumping and were not head injuries (they all had helmets on), but neck injuries. If I were jumping I'd suggest one of the inflatable collars they have now and some body armor
. Most of the life altering injuries (not always fatal, but often crippling) involve the spine in some way (neck or back).
Injuries that last for over a month can happen no matter what activity you do. I'm currently recovering from 5 broken ribs which didn't involve jumping or anything fance (2 under my left scapula and 3 below it, but I hope to be able to ride again after 6 weeks....the pain level should be acceptable then and my horses need the work....other horses will have to wait a few weeks more). While it's probably the worst set of broken ribs I've had it's hardly the first so I know the routine. I've been riding for a few months shy of 49 years and started training them almost 46 years ago. You ride and work with horses for that long and you're going to suffer in injuries and you just have to be ok with the risk ("it comes with the job"). Broken bones and severe deep tissue bruises take more than a month to heal and you can get them from any equine activity. I learned not to keep a wallet in my hip pocket after landing on it and not being able to sit on my left buttocks for a month. 4 days after the injury the bruise appear and covered my entire left buttocks and upper thigh. Then over the next three weeks some of the blood from the bruise was pushed out to behind my knee and then my ankle (making them painful). Was almost 2 months before all that was cleared up so it actually took longer than a broken forearm.
Point is, yes you can mitigate your potential for injury, but you're never going to deal with a horse and not take a risk of suffering a substantial injury. As I like to tell people when I suffer an injury and they ask me about training a horse to be 100% safe. You're dealing with a 1/2 ton of muscle with an attitude (not always a bad attitude, but they all have one). The only horse that is ever going to be 100% safe is the one that just died.
If you ride you take the risk. Most states now have laws to that effect to protect horse owners, because the state recognizes that dealing with a horse is going to be inherently dangerous so we have to put up a sign with the law on it which tells people that they assume the risk.