This page looks different to our usual site because it is from our back catalogue. More recent articles are here.


» Back

Equestrian Related Injuries - NZ - 1993-1998 - Fact sheet

February 5, 2007


There is no such thing as a safe or 'bomb-proof' horse. Even a quiet animal can be spooked starting a series of events that leads to injury. In fact, being overly confident with a seemingly quiet horse may increase the risk of injury, if this is interpreted that routine safety measures can be ignored. Horses are unpredictable so interventions are difficult.

¹ C. Finch & G. Watt. Locking the stable door: preventing equestrian injuries. Monash University Accident Research Centre Report no. 103.
² Ibid
³ Tony Lower, Kevin Wolfenden. Preventing horse related child injury - a pilot education program. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 1995; 5 (1):46-50.




¹ Reed AI et al. Adolescents' participation in sporting and leisure time and physical activities during their fifteenth year. Canadian Journal of Sporting Science, 1991; 16(4): 308-315,
² Caution needs to be exercised with using free text descriptors due to inconsistent reporting.

Injuries by region

Injury site

Economic costs from ACC claims

(ACC injury Statistics. Online (Accessed 21 Sept. 2000)) Epidemiological evidence indicates that although the incidence of equestrian injuries were only 10% of those claimed by rugby injuries, the outcome of equestrian injuries is often more severe and has long-term outcomes. ACC statistics are for entitlement claims only and do not include medical treatment, public health or ambulance costs. ACC claims only account for approximately 13-15% of injuries and are not adjusted for participation.

ACC claims 1994-1999


Mortality and morbidity data are sourced from the NZHIS Minimum Dataset. Records were selected by choosing ICD -9 codes 827 'Animal drawn carriage accident', 828 'Accident involving animal being ridden' and 829 'Other road vehicle accidents', where the injured person was the rider of the animal or occupant of an animal drawn carriage.

While these codes may include incidents involving animals other than horses, these records are assumed to be minimal.

Morbidity records are for hospitalisation of three hours or more with a primary diagnosis of injury. Records were also included if the person survived the injury, and if the record was the first admission for an injury event.

Safety Measures

Everyone who rides horses, no matter how experienced or how careful, eventually falls off. The key is to ensure that you protect yourself from serious injury in falls by wearing protective gear. Programmes designed to educate young people, particularly in rural areas, in safety behaviour have proved favourable. Awareness of the hazardous nature of horses increased along with more lesson taking and adult supervision.


An approved safety helmet should be replaced every 5 years. A good helmet is like an airbag for your brain, it should be properly fitted and worn one inch above the rider's eyebrows. Long hair should be tied back.


Boots should have smooth heels and soles and be individually matched to the stirrup for size. Stirrups should be 2-3cm wider than the boot, too small and the foot maybe stuck, too large and the rider becomes unstable. Feet can be easily crushed with the horses weight so wear sturdy footwear to prevent serious injury.


Non-slip gloves should be worn to prevent friction injuries to the hands from a rope or reins.


Falling off a horse is dangerous enough without having your foot caught in the stirrup as the horse drags you along the ground, which can be fatal. Safety stirrups are designed to release your foot in the event of a fall. There are a variety of safety stirrups available.


Baggy or loose clothing should not be worn while riding as it might catch on trees etc.


All equipment must be checked regularly for signs of fatigue and be correctly adjusted to fit.


On the Ground:

While Riding:



Affiliate disclaimer