Minor injury

I am currently nursing a sporting injury, and my physio has suggested that I take a break from working at my (non-ergonomic!) desk. Subsequently, this will be a short, though somewhat more personal, post.

My current injury, in combination with an email from a reader noting the recent rise in injuries and deaths among female jockeys, has got me thinking about how dangerous equestrian sports can be.* As we have discussed previously on the blog, horse-related deaths account for more fatalities in Australia than sharks do, and horse-riding is deemed statistically more dangerous than riding a motorbike.** [1]

In my teenage years I worked at a riding school, taking trail rides around Centennial Park in Sydney. Some of the things I did on horseback were pretty stupid, including riding without wearing a helmet. Fortunately, the worst damage I sustained was a concussion, when the horse I was riding bucked me into a tree – head-first. I still have absolutely no recollection of the incident, or the hours that followed. The first thing I remember is being wheeled by my (very angry!) mother through the local hospital. I think everyone at the riding school copped a lecture from her, not least me, and from then on there was a much more conscientious approach to wearing helmets. It’s worth noting, however, that there is no law in Australia relating to the wearing of helmets when riding.

Given the number of hours I spent in the saddle as a teenager, and the natural disdain for consequences common to that age-group, I feel pretty lucky that I got through relatively unscathed! One time, I came off my pony and he galloped back to the stables, crossing a reasonably busy road as he went. Fortunately it was night-time, and the traffic was slow. The pony of a girl I knew was not so lucky; the exact same thing happened, only during the day, and her horse was hit by a car. The injuries he sustained were severe, and eventually he had to be put down.

So it seems that equestrian activity is not just dangerous for humans, but for horses too. I was lucky, as was my pony. Not everyone is.

*Though my current injury is NOT from horse riding!

** I also grew up with both parents riding motorbikes, and while it caused some cuts and scrapes, it too only put me in hospital once.


[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: National Injury Surveillance Unit, “Horse-related Injury in Australia,” Issue 24, May 2000, p.2.


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