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Do you see equestrian sports as dangerous?

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  • #21
    absolutely dangerous. more dangerous than watching tv, or riding an exercycle; less dangerous than skydiving or climbing everest, or driving on rte 7 in VA. that said, i have 2d degree acquaintances who've:

    been killed by drunk drivers while out cycling
    died at age 46 of cancer
    been otherwise healthy and died in their sleep at age 24 for no discernable reason
    permanently damaged themselves by doing such exotic things as going down stairs, and flipping crepes in a crepe pan (that one required several spinal surgeries. ).

    a woman in VA beach died while out running last week; she was *hit by lightning* of all things.

    i know a couple people who've been badly injured by horses (one of whom would not have had that whole depressed skull fracture/airlift/coma/paralysis thing if she'd just tightened her helmet strap before getting on the horse) but as said above--you take the precautions you can take, and you try not to be stupid. i've noticed an increase over the last year of the number of students at my barn wearing safety vests in class (even flat walk-trot classes). haven't decided if the vests at the lower levels are a good idea or an example of paranoia.

    since i got my first concussion a couple yrs ago, i'm trying to be as sensible as usual, but that stays in the back of my mind as something to be aware of, as those things are cumulative and my brain isn't getting any younger. doesn't keep me from getting on a horse every week, but it *does* make me say "um, can i ride someone else?" when they try and put me on someone that i *know* i'm overfaced by.

    my mother periodically wrings her hands about my riding; then i remind her that i commute to downtown D.C. every day, and am statistically more likely to be injured/killed doing that than riding horses.

    just think of all the people you know who ride, and never have a problem, or who fall/get thrown, and still never have a problem. it's sad about the lady at your barn, but accidents will happen and you just have to try your best to prevent them in future.
    Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


    • #22
      I had a broken wrist one year ago shipping cattle and right now a bum, swollen and sore knee, from slipping on the tailgate while rolling 250 lb cattle tubs out.
      None of those were horse related in any way, just happened.

      Putting injuries in perspective, they are part of life.
      If we are alive and moving, we may get injured, no matter what we are doing or how careful we are.
      Horses are just one more part of what we do and can get injured with.


      • #23
        Ambrey, I am so sorry for your loss. It is absolutely devastating to lose someone we love. I use stories like that as a reminder to stay safe and not slack.

        The sad part of life is that we lose people we love often and in various manners. When it is something we choose to do like swimming, horses, etc, it takes us aback a bit. I have lost several dear people in my life over the last couple of years. I still drive, worry about cancer, swim and ride. It doesn't make me want to quit, but it does make me remember the person and to stay as safe as possible.
        Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

        Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


        • #24
          Originally posted by Invested1 View Post
          Think of all the people on 9/11 who died sitting at their desks.

          I'm in the camp that you have to get out and live life because you never know how or when your time is up!


          Live every day as if it was your last. One day you're sure to be right.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #25
            Personally, I'm more worried about things like skin cancer than if I'll die riding.

            Some riding is more dangerous than others. Riding my 14 year, quiet, broke, been there done that horse does not feel very risky. Jumping, I'd say the risk goes up a bit. Jumping 4', I'd say your risk goes higher.

            Riding babies or problem horses? In general more dangerous than hacking around on your quiet hunter.

            So yeah, riding is dangerous, but I don't worry about it a whole lot. I'm smart in decisions I make. If my horse has 3 days off and it's blustery and cold out, I'm not gonna hop on and go for a trail ride right away - I just may get my butt bucked off.

            A lot of things people do is dangerous, it's all about making smart choices and lessening your risks as much as possible.


            • #26
              Originally posted by J Swan View Post
              Live every day as if it was your last. One day you're sure to be right.
              GREAT expression!!
              Never heard it but I love it!
              Amwrider: May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their genitalia and may their arms be too short to scratch.


              • #27
                its as dangerous as crossing the road


                • #28
                  Sure it is, but as someone pointed out, you can manage your risk. Jumping over 3' doesn't really interest me right now , not that I have the horse for it and I am out of shape anyway. I don't have an interest in jumping solid fences over 3' especially. Used to be interested in eventing but now I am not into jumping anything that won't collapse. I don't always ride easy made horses, but I don't desire to train green horses myself.

                  Life is inherently dangerous. I would rather take calculated risks in life than regret a boring existence.

                  I am sorry, OP, about your barnmate.
                  Love my "Slow-T T B"
                  2010 OTTB, Dixie Union x Dash for Money


                  • #29
                    You know--I don't feel equestrian sports are that risky, although the statics won't back me up on this one.... It's definitely not as risky as say, coal mining.....

                    I have to say though that I have been hurt worse whileI was on the terra firma leading my horse back to the barn (a barking dog spooked her and she flew backwards for yards down the driveway, pulling me off my feet because I would not let go of the lead [what can I say--it's a very busy road beyond the driveway])!!!! It took almost two years for my badly sprained neck to heal to the point that I had full mobility without pain....

                    Even if you are an excellent rider sometimes things are just out of your control--but I do think that riding instructors owe it to their clients to teach them how to stop a runaway horse--there are several methods and riders who are paying to learn how to ride should know them ALL! The most important thing is for the rider to recognize when he/she is losing control of the horse and that he/she knows what to do to get that control back--that would stop 99.999% of the runaways..... But, lacking those skills, knowing how to stop a horse is priceless!

                    I just try to pay attention when I'm working around the horse. It seems that the "accidents" seem to occur when my mind is wandering, thinking about something completely unrelated to the horse's handling or when my mind is in neutral as so happens when I'm doing mindless things like mucking out the stall.....

                    I'm kind of spoiled though--my horse is a good girl.... I can count on one hand the times she had thought about bucking over the fifteen years I've had her. She doesn't spook per se--she just startles in place. She's never done anything dumb all the times I rode her--she's fast but I never had the feeling she was ever out of control, she always came back to a slower pace when asked.... She hasn't been rideable for the past four years or so due to "big knee syndrome" but she has always acted like a crazy horse out in the pasture--hopping and jumping and twisting around! If she had ever done that while I was on her back I would have surely had a heart attack!!!!

                    I think if you stay alert, learn to really ride, don't overface yourself when it comes to your mount and learn how to deal with any behavior problems that your horse may present it helps to swing the odds in your favor that you will be able to stay alive longer when working around horses....

                    I never heard anyone speak of bailing off a horse until I came to COTH! Somehow that doesn't sound like a very good idea to me.... I once had the opportunity to speak to a Director of Nursing at a local college, who is also a horseback rider, and I asked her what is the appropriate thing to do. She said it is always preferable to stay on board the horse. There is less risk of injury, or death, if you do so..... She said eventually the horse will run out of steam.... If you know how to stop a runaway horse though the point is moot!
                    "I'm not much into conspiracy theories but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot!" ~person from another bulletin board whose name has been long forgotten~


                    • #30
                      Well, while it doesn't ease your pain, Ambrey, it is making us think again about our levels of acceptable risk. So, thanks.

                      Like pilots who simply have to believe that they could have done something different to avoid the crash that took someone else's life, most of us feel we manage the risk as well as is humanly possible. And better than anyone else....

                      That said, we don't.

                      Wonder what a thread would look like if we all just said all the risks we've taken in the last year? Heck, the last month.

                      Sorry for your loss.


                      • #31
                        The fact is, you're more likely to die in your own home - falling down stairs, fire etc. than horseback riding.

                        How many people are killed skiing every year, or even worse a simple sledding accident.

                        Do I take chances or do things that are above what my mare and I are capable of? No.

                        Very sadly, my husband's 22 yr. old Niece was found dead in her apartment on July 4th. She was a healthy vibrant beautiful young girl.
                        An autopsy was done on Monday and the Coroner still can't come up with the cause of death.

                        Who would think that a healthy young person can just die in her sleep?
                        MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                        • #32
                          Statistically, 'riding is dangerous'. A lot of people get killed or hurt riding. Those statistics are STILL getting swelled with people who are untrained, riding untrained horses, on bad footing, in bad places.

                          Even though experienced people often get too casual about safety and get sloppy or in a hurry, so that experienced people DO get hurt.

                          I can't think of too many accidents where there wasn't some contributing factor that could have been avoided.

                          As much as it will make people angry, as much as people hate to admit it, accidents very often involve avoidable risks.

                          You can't get rid of 'unavoidable risks', but improper footwear, overmounting oneself, taking unnecessary risks like riding alone, riding horses you can't handle...frankly, these are part of most accidents.

                          one of the most disfiguring, horrible accidents i ever heard of was described to me as a freak accident that no one could do anything about.

                          18 years after the accident, i happened to run into someone who was there. 'well, he beat the crap out of the horse for 45 minutes, and it finally decided to get away...it jumped over some snow fence they had as a gate out of the arena, and he hit his face on a low, overhanging doorway that was no more than a few feet taller than the 3' snow fence.

                          Cause of accident? Someone's bad temper, bad facilities, unsafe arena gate,too low doorway. NOT a freak accident at all.

                          But in fact, I know very, very few people who are careful, safety conscious, appropriately mounted, don't take risks, and wear helmets, who die riding, or even get badly hurt, ever. There is the occasional freak accident, but that's exactly what they are - freak accidents. The horse gets an aneurism and falls on them as it dies, the horse is on perfect footing and takes a step and falls on its face, flips over, and kills them both. These things are NOT common.

                          I know people who have NEVER had a life threatening injury, or even come close, in more than 40 years of riding. I know people who have galloped race horses and are OLD, anda re still doing it. I know people who have evented for 30 years. That have NEVER had a major accident or a 'near death experiecne'.

                          But the difference between them and other people is that they don't do things that put them in harm's way.

                          they aren't impulsive. They don't decide to get a wild hair up their butt and go galloping across an unfamiliar field on an 'iffy' horse, or one that's out of condition. They don't go riding on trails that have been weakened by unseasonal rains because 'it's finally a nice day'. They do their homework before they go someplace to ride; they talk to people, knwo the conditions.

                          They don't think the trail pr open field is a great place to teach an untrained or spoiled horse; they get the horse trained in the ring first.

                          They don't go riding with people who can't control their own horses.

                          They don't overmount themselves.

                          They don't think of riding as an ego exercise in which the point is to be more daring than someone else, the 'cowboy mentality'.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Invested1 View Post
                            Think of all the people on 9/11 who died sitting at their desks.
                            Like people who die in car accidents during their work commutes, this falls under the category of unavoidable accidents - ie, people have to work to live. Unless your work involves riding, any accident that befalls you while riding is completely voluntary

                            I see riding as risky and because it's pretty much useless in modern society, the perception of the risk is heightened. Most people need to drive a car to get do anything, from go to the movies to get to the drugstore to fill their prescriptions. Apart from cowboys and jockeys, who needs to ride a horse? It's similar to downhill skiing or mountain climbing. You're taking an inherently tricky physical activity - balancing in a narrow area - and adding the element of unpredictability in the form of a natural object/phenom/animal that can upset your stability at any time. I always feel that mountain climbers all deserve to die, and have little sympathy for skiiers either, but I recognize the similarities between our mutual insanities.


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by HighFlyinBey+ View Post
                              Two nights ago, I fell down some stairs & sprained BOTH ankles & bruised most of the rest of me. I don't intend to avoid stairs for the rest of my life, though I've become quite cautious since

                              I'm driving on NoVA's Rt 15 this week (dangerous road). I eat my steak medium rare, eggs over-easy, LOVE raw cookie dough & brownie batter.

                              I've had a few minor injuries with horses (knock on wood) since 1981, but considering I spend more time at home/the office than on horseback, I'm statistically much more likely to die there than at the barn.

                              Caution is a good thing, but if fear, anxiety & "what-if" begin to dictate your life & your choices, you'll need to do some evaluating of your situation.
                              Very well said.
                              As a mom, I have the double task of also making sure my kids don't grow up "fearful" in a very "safety concious" world.
                              I tell them you could sit on the couch.....and then die of a heart attack.
                              We are all gonna go from something.....
                              You'll probably last longer if you use good judgement though.


                              • Original Poster

                                SLC, she wasn't doing any of those things. She was simply doing something a LOT of people do (galloping her horse in a field) and for whatever reason she fell.

                                I am not a courageous rider the way I was when I was a kid. I don't gallop, period. I always wear my helmet now (I didn't used to be so conscientious, but the two times I've needed it it has been on my head, and that really taught me a lesson). The truth is, I will fall from my big horse- he's just really powerful and even though he doesn't act up much anymore, when he does it can be like a nuclear explosion.

                                I am even fine with the risk that I'll break another bone or two, I love my horses that much. But it's not fair of me to risk my life, I have two kids at home.

                                It's making me want to get the most expensive, best protection helmet I can find!


                                • #36
                                  Yes, it is dangerous. Yes, I could be killed. But is anything worthwhile in life totally safe? Like lots have said, we take risks every day.

                                  I had an uncle who was the healthiest member of the family. Never saw anyone who lived as right as he did. He exercised regularly, couldn't have found an ounce overweight on him if you tried, and as for eating - the man didn't even LIKE dessert. It wasn't exercise of willpower. He honestly didn't like sweets, junk food, etc. Ate a near total but not fanatically so veggie diet, never ate any of the high-fat, bad for you stuff. Lived right, ate right, took care of himself, never sick a day in his life, felt fantastic. He dropped dead at age 50 in Thanksgiving week two and a half years ago while doing absolutely nothing. When your number is up, it's up.

                                  My condolences to you and her family/other friends on your friend's death.


                                  • #37
                                    Ambrey, I'm so sorry to hear about your barnmate. I know how hard this must be for you, when you are already trying to get your confidence back about riding. I'm in the same place as you mentally (and probably physically, too ) and I'm not sure how I would cope with that happening right now.

                                    I think riding is dangerous and like any other dangerous sport, injury as well as death is always a possibility. But, as others said, there are so many other types of freak accidents that can kill you too, that don't involve horses.

                                    IMO, you just need to decide if the risk outweighs the pleasure you derive from riding or if the pleasure outweighs the risk. Even though I'm REALLY aware now how badly one can get hurt while just hacking at a walk, I'm riding again. My parents and some other people think I'm nuts for being back on, but hubby understands that I just don't feel like "me" if I'm not riding. Not to say that I won't reassess one day and quit, but for right now the possibilities of happiness from riding outweigh the possibilities of injury. I mean, I rode for almost 30 years without serious injury, and we're talking showing hunters, schooling greenbeans, riding in horse trials, and frequent mad gallops out on the hunt trails jumping everything in sight. So I keep trying to remind myself that statistically, I'm not doing too badly with the one serious injury!

                                    Also, I just watched "The Bucket List" and was thinking to myself about what I'd put on my own bucket list. I couldn't think of more than a couple of things, because I've pretty much already done everything I wanted to do in this lifetime. (And I'm only 36.) Have I taken risks? Yep. But at least I won't die wishing I had ridden a horse or anything else. I had a great aunt who always loved horses but never got on one until she was in her 80's. A family member held their horse and helped her on, and she got her picture taken... she had a big ol' smile on her face. I thought that was WAY cool, she knew she'd be checking out soon and wanted to fulfill her dream of riding a horse first. (The barn name of the pony I recently bought is Lacey, which was my great aunt's name also. I think it's an appropriate tribute.)

                                    Sorry for the novel, and hugs to you and your barnmates, Ambrey.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post

                                      Getting in a car on any given day is statistically more dangerous than riding a horse as for cause of death.
                                      I very much doubt that. Car accidents kill far more people, sure, but far more people drive cars than ride horses. The individual risk, once you have mounted a horse, has got to be much higher than when driving a car.

                                      Having said that, most fun things are dangerous - I'd say put on yer helmet and don't do anything stupid, and your risk goes way down. Still, there are no guarantees.

                                      So sorry to hear about your aquaintance


                                      • #39
                                        Was she wearing a helmet?

                                        It is always a sad thing when one of our own loses their life or has a major injury, but it is part of the sport. There have been many times and many falls that I contemplate quitting, but it is something that I truly enjoy. I could not imagine life without riding. Any sport that anyone does involves risks. Look at football players, they are seriously injured all the time. That doesn't stop all the others from playing. The key is to wear your helmets and other protective gear and have fun.


                                        • #40
                                          Working with horses and riding is very dangerous. That said, I have never been injured by a horse in a way that required any Drs care. A boo boo here and there but not stitches or x-rays or casts.

                                          Most of my friends have been seriously injured by horses at least once. I have known people who died from horse related injuries. I am not riding right now due to lack of health insurance, so the bad results I saw did sink in, but I would ride again in an instant if I were well insured and had a safe, sane mount.

                                          But in a risk analysis I have seen many more people hurt from being in love with an abusive man, in car accidents, or from drugs.

                                          At least with a horse accedent it is usually not personal. Most horses do not try to hurt you. You just "get hurt". If you decide its too risky you can just stop doing it, but if your marrage or driving or job is too risky its a lot harder to just stop or limit the risk through careful planning.

                                          Everything is risky, but in the aftershocks of a serious injury the reason someone got hurt can make a huge difference in the healing. So does the amount of control we feel we have over future injuries.

                                          I think with horses at least we rarely feel betrayed and we can just stop and not suffer any social consequences. We "get over" what doesn't kill us or just decide the risk isn't worth it.

                                          Many more people die of suicide in the US then horse accedents. I think horses have kept more people happy and alive then killed them?

                                          Over 40 years with the rankest horses and my first trip serious to the ER will be from lying in bed and eating sunflower seeds. I'd feel better if I had a respectable injury from a horse