Nearly 84 percent of horse riders in Malaysia who took part in an online survey reported a riding-related injury in the preceding 12 months.
A fall from the saddle was given as the most common injury cause by the 169 survey respondents, 145 of whom reported injuries.
There was no significant correlation found between the level of experience and injury prevalence.
The researchers, Nizar Majeedkutty and Nor Khairulanuar, writing in the Journal of Family and Community Medicine, noted that, despite the frequency of injuries in equestrian sport, there was no published study on rider injuries in Malaysia.
The pair, from the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Selangor, Malaysia, set out to determine the prevalence of injuries among riders in the country using an online questionnaire that took about 10 minutes for each participant to complete.
Of the 169 participants, 93 were females and 76 were males.
Majeedkutty and Khairulanuar said that 83.8% of participants reported having been injured in a horse-related incident in the preceding 12 months.
The most common injury area was the upper extremities (43.4%), followed by the lower extremities (40.7%), a head injury (8.3%) and injuries of the upper and lower back (3.4%).
About 70% of the riders sustained soft tissue injuries, with another 11% reporting fractures and 6.9% reporting concussions.
There was a higher prevalence of injury among female participants (55.03%) than males (42.60%).
Fifty-five percent of the injured were involved in recreational riding.
“The most common mechanism of injury was a fall from a horse,” the pair reported.
Sixty percent of the injured riders did not seek medical attention, with only 10.3% going for physiotherapy.
“The high prevalence of injuries and low rate of medical consultation emphasize the need for education programs on safety in Malaysia,” the pair suggested.
“Sessions should be held to improve coaching for riders and instructors, and their knowledge of the nature of the horse, mechanisms of injuries, horse handling, and riding skills to help them host safe equestrian activities.”
The researchers, discussing their findings, noted that horse riders were one of the top four groups being targeted by the country’s Injury Prevention Department to reduce injuries in sport and recreation.
The authors noted that all survey participants wore helmets while riding, indicating that they were well informed about the need for this piece of safety equipment.
“The use of helmets or headgear is compulsory for horse riding in Malaysia, so the clubs provide helmets or headgear to riders.”
They continued: “In addition to headgear, the focus should be on protective equipment for the upper extremities because of the high frequency of injuries involving those parts of the body. The use of properly fitted protective equipment will not eliminate all injuries, but should substantially reduce the severity and frequency of injury.”
Certification of instructors was critical, they said.
“It is recommended that riding establishments and schools should keep records of each horse and any incidents that occur. Riders need to be examined before they return to the saddle after an injury for their own good.
“Organizers of equestrian events should ensure that adequate first aid and medical services are available.
“All horse riders should receive basic training in the principles of first-aid as part of their rider education.
“The use of rules and regulations for the conduct of events, knowledge of horse behaviour, well-conducted lessons, contraindicated medical conditions, public education, rider education, appropriate equipment and clothing, the riding environment, rider experience, safety stirrups, body protectors, and instruction on first aid are some of the measures to be taken to reduce injuries.”
Majeedkutty NA, Khairulanuar NA. Prevalence, patterns, and correlates of equestrian injuries in Malaysia: A cross-sectional study . J Fam Community Med 2017;24:18-22
The study can be be read here.