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Horse Riding Safety

It is true that the unpredictability of horses inserts an element of danger into horse riding which has been a favorite sport of mankind for millennia. On the other hand, one of the reasons why riding can be a comparatively safe sport is because horses are not suicidal and are unlikely to obey stupid commands. A motorcycle reacts the same if you hit the accelerator when you should have hit the brake. Horses often instinctively avoid spots where there is quicksand and other hazards. They have a nose for danger and have often saved their riders by warning them of the presence of enemies or predatory animals. Horses also have wonderful night vision and an amazing memory for trails even if they have only traveled them once in the last ten years. I have had horses which I swear would move so as to get under me if they felt me losing my balance. Their legendary instinct for direction is nearly as good as a homing pigeon. All these equine qualities enhance horse riding safety.

It is difficult to get comparative statistics on accident rates in various kinds of sports. Certainly some kinds of riding like steeple chasing and riding broncs are ridiculously dangerous. That kind of thing has little to do with the accident rate in trail riding or dressage. In any case, one can greatly increase horse riding safety and minimize accidents by following a few simple rules.

Right Horse – I have too often heard tales about beginner riders being over mounted and scared off horses for life. It usually happens with people who have their own horses and think it would be fun to take a friend on a first ride without reflecting on the needed skill. This often ends with a runaway horse, a terrified rider and a bad fall. The same kind of thing often happens on a riding tour as well when riders get in over their heads and have overestimated their ability. Skiers get into trouble if they make their first run on a steep advanced slope. Riding is the same.

These riders in Ireland have hard hats on and are taking horse safety seriously.

These riders in Ireland have hard hats on and are taking horse safety seriously.

Hard hats which fit properly are as basic a precaution for horse riding safety as snapping on a seat belt and there is no question about the fact that they prevent many head accidents. A broken leg or an arm is usually little more than a temporary inconvenience, but head accidents can cause permanent damage. They are not that onerous to wear and if you are enjoying your life, you would be well advised to have one on at all times when you are riding.

Shying horses have caused countless accidents and they cannot always be avoided, but many accidents occur because of an object like a raincoat or a handsome Marlboro hat falling off the horse or rider in front. If care is taken to tie objects securely on the saddle and riders wear hard hats this kind of accident can be greatly reduced. A good ride leader can usually avoid situations where a horse is likely to shy or at least warn riders of a danger.

Loose cinches can allow a saddle to turn, especially with a rider whose balance is not perfect. Cinches should always be checked just before and immediately after mounting, then again after a few minutes as they tend to loosen as they warm up and the saddle pads adjust to the pressure of the saddle.

For more information see Equitours Worldwide Riding Vacations.


Bayard Fox has written a much more complete article on the main causes of accidents and how to avoid them. For more information see Equitours Worldwide Riding Vacations. horse safety. Bayard has ridden for over 70 years, enough miles to circle the globe many times, and has seen countless accidents.


Copyright 2005-2008 Bayard Fox and Equitours, Ltd.

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