Each year in Australia, about 20 people die from horse-related injuries and about 3,000 people are admitted to hospital with serious injuries. Although these serious injuries represent a small proportion of horse-related injuries that occur in Australia each year, their health and social consequences can be severe and lead to lasting disabilities. In 2001, a pilot project was undertaken to see if a national surveillance program to monitor falls at
Equestrian Federation of Australia (EFA) affiliated horse trials events was feasible. Falls associated with the cross-country phase of the sport (known as ‘eventing’) was the focus of this pilot as fallsrelated deaths and severe injuries had been reported in this sport in the immediately preceding years.
Based on the successful outcome of this pilot study, which monitored falls in South Australia and New South Wales, the scope of the pilot was broadened to include all jurisdictions in Australia which conducted EFA affiliated events.
This publication reports on the establishment of a national surveillance program to monitor horse and rider falls, and the results of monitoring these events during the 2003 and 2004 eventing seasons. Results analysed were based on data reported by EFA Branches for 136 of 161 venues which were conducted during the 2002 and 2003 eventing seasons. Data received from venues consisted of jump judges’ fall report forms, scores sheets, and Technical Delegate’s reports. Rider and horse details for riders or horses which fell were obtained from returned questionnaires sent to each rider who fell.
The establishment of this national surveillance program was supported by the Equestrian Federation of Australia, the peak national body for the sport, and their National Eventing Committee, the organisation with policy and rule-making authority. Based on the responses of riders who returned
questionnaires, and communications with other equestrian groups, there appears to be support for an on-going national surveillance system to monitor falls and to inform scientific research on safety in the sport. The EFA is also interested in obtaining information from the study which will inform any future policy development, to minimise the risks associated with the sport of eventing.
This project was funded from industry revenue which is matched by funds provided by the Australian Government. (For program areas DEE, RNF, TTO, CME, HBE, RIC, HOR, FCR and PSE. This report, an addition to RIRDC’s diverse range of over 1000 research publications, forms part of
our Horse R&D program, which aims to assist in developing the Australian horse industry and enhancing its export potential.
Most of our publications are available for viewing, downloading or purchasing online through our website:
• downloads at www.rirdc.gov.au/fullreports/index.html
• purchases at www.rirdc.gov.au/eshop
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation