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Do you see equestrian sports as dangerous?

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  • Do you see equestrian sports as dangerous?

    I have been thinking a lot about this.

    On Saturday, a woman at my stable, who I was acquainted with, died while trail riding. She was a sweet lady, and we're all terribly sad.

    It kind of made me think- how dangerous IS this sport? How many people die every year in equestrian events?

    Last year I was "seriously" injured. I say seriously because it was a debilitating injury, but it was nothing that won't heal. It never occurred to me to quit riding, and now I'm having more fun than ever. We at the barn sit around and talk, and everyone has had an injury at some point- broken bones, stitches, etc. I don't think we ever considered the possibility of death, though.

    I guess I'm just heartbroken for her family and doing a little reassessing. Risking injury and risking death seem to be two entirely different things.

  • #2
    I look at it this way...life is dangerous. Half the things I do on a regular basis are dangerous depending on how I go about doing them and what your point of view is. I could easily get hurt by a falling piece of rack mounted equipment, a drunk driver, an angry Canadian, my own ADD, or even someone else's dog named Snickerdoodle.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


    • #3
      Of course riding is dangerous. You are in close contact with an animal. You can take pre-cautions & be smart to lessen the risk, but it's still risky.

      But as LexinVA said...many other things in life are dangerous as well. Although death by Canadian is .
      "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


      • #4
        Ditto what LexInVa said. Is riding more dangerous then say chess? Sure but driving on the freeway is just as likely to get you killed ( no I do not have statistics but I am fairly certain this is reasonably accurate). Life outside of bubble wrap is a dangerous thing. Doesn't mean you can't be safe and smart, helmets, vests, making sure you are on an appropriate horse for your experience level, etc.


        • #5
          Along this same thought process, someone asked me if I wanted my son to ride or was it too dangerous. The fact is, anything you do sportswise has an inherent risk--footbal--neck/back injuries with possible paralysis, baseball--line drive pitch/hit to the head, I could go on and on.

          The fact of the matter is, we work with 1000lb plus animals with brains and thoughts and feelings of their own. When our opinions differ, there is conflict and they are generally much bigger and stronger than us. Injuries even occur in our business when everything is going right--anyone ever had a foot stepped on/broken while grooming?

          I would love to hear if there is anyone who has been involved with horses for over say 3-5 years that has not had some sort of injury (excluding the people who have "people" who groom, tack, exercise, etc. their horses for them and they just hop on for a show). I would be willing to bet they are few and far between.

          I think the majority of us do this because we love the animals involved and the discipline we are in--there is inherent risk and I ride much more carefully now that I am a mother--but I would not give it up unless I had to.
          Proud Member of Wood Hill Farm who's motto is "I'm not going sober!"


          • #6
            Yes, they're dangerous. I know very few riders who haven't had some sort of injury. Yet I have a lot of non-horsey friends who have never broken anything or had stitches and staples. Don't even bring up concussions and strains/sprains, etc. with them...they've never been down that road.

            That said, it doesn't keep me from having and riding horses. I stopped jumping years ago when my late husband was diagnosed with cancer. With two children I couldn't justify the risk of injury to myself when I knew my husband was dying.

            So, I try to be careful. But a horse is a horse...and by their nature unpredictable. I choose to have them, and live with the risk. Obviously some horse sports are more dangerous than others. You just have to figure out what works for you and what you are best equipped to deal with.


            • #7
              I'm so sorry to hear about your acquaintance. That is a real shame.

              Getting in a car on any given day is statistically more dangerous than riding a horse as for cause of death.

              I am more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, or stroke.

              (I'm perusing the cdc's numbers for 2005 at this very moment)

              All accidents (including car accidents, sporting accidents, etc) account for 4.8% of annual deaths.

              Therefore, as long as I can throw a leg over and take reasonable precautions, I fully intend to...before the cancer gets me, or the stroke, or the heart disease. And if I die on horseback, anyone who knows me can rest assured that I died a pretty happy camper--except for that last 60 seconds or so.
              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...


              • #8
                Knowonder--regarding your 3-5 year test....

                I have been on horses since I was knee high to a grass hopper...so let's just call that roughly 30 years.

                In that time, I've had only one serious injury. And it was last year, riding a horse that wasn't mine for the first time. (nasty dirty stopper he was!)
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  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.
                  I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right
                  Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.


                  • #10
                    Lex? An angry Canadian? We are usually not lethal.

                    I do think about it sometimes. But you know, a lot of sports have the potential for death.


                    My uncle died when he fell from his bicycle and hit his head on the curb.

                    You can't live your life in fear.


                    • #11
                      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!
                      Amwrider: May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their genitalia and may their arms be too short to scratch.


                      • #12
                        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!
                        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


                        • #13
                          If someone wants statistics I would like to see...

                          A Division of ACCIDENTS (I mean horse got stung, fell while trail riding on slippery surfaces, etc) and people BEING STUPID (advancing too fast thru the levels, putting a horse into a situation you should have known better, etc) I have a feeling you would find a large number of deaths due to equine accidents are a persons fault more than the horses.
                          " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs


                          • #14
                            My father's sister died in her sleep at age 19. She had fallen from a horse in the recent past, and they decided it was an aneurism or clot from that fall. (I've no idea if there was an autopsy or such.)

                            I did not find out about this until in my very late teen years. I knew Sissy had died, but not WHY.

                            To this day I am amazed and humbled that my parents, especially my Dad, had the grace and unselfishness to let me ride.

                            I have had too many concussions. My most recent accident, which has been the most debilitating though, was not riding, but it was still working with a rank horse, on the ground. It was the second time I've been double barrelled in the chest. The first was a 'joy buck' while longlining a horse, nothing malicious in it. This was deadly malicious, and my number just wasn't up, because there was tremendous force, and why it didn't just stop my heart, no one really knows except God.

                            It *is* dangerous. But so is being a cop. Hell, so is DRIVING to my parents (I have to take 128 in Boston-- yeah, those of you from there, you know what I mean! )

                            I am very sorry for her family. I am sure you will hear it repeated often though, that she died doing something she loved

                            What is life, if not for love.
                            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                            • #15
                              Life itself is fraught with danger, and none of us are going to get out of it alive anyway!

                              For me, riding and living around horses is what I call an "acceptable risk". Bungee jumping however, is not. Nor is jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. But both of those activities have their fans, and while I consider them insane pursuits, many people view horses the same way.

                              I just know that my life would be sorely diminished if horses were not a part of it. I learned that lesson after Conny's death. I almost gave them up after he died because I just didn't feel I had the heart to go on, but my passion for all things equine brought me back from the brink.

                              Ambrey, I'm very sorry to hear about your friend. Her family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
                              Last edited by arabhorse2; Jul. 9, 2008, 02:37 PM.
                              Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.


                              • #16
                                I'm very sorry for the woman, her horse, and your barn as a whole - a barn is a community and it's occupants suffer together through everything from something as simple as bad weather, to a major loss such as this-everyone has a shoulder to cry on, and that's the beautiful thing about people boarding their horses together-they bond in some way shape or form even if they don't realize it. When I was 11-12(not so long ago..I'm only 16) I was riding at an eventing barn and was occasionally taught by a girl(when I say girl I mean early 20's) who owned this green mare. She was a FABULOUS rider, under great instruction, in a lesson with supervision, warming up over teeny fences, wearing a helmet, taking all the precautions she could - and she died during that lesson. All it took was a slight shift of balance at the wrong moment in time, sometimes that's all it takes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why instigate the possibilities by overfacing a horse or rider, or not wearing the proper headgear? I just can't grasp the concept.

                                Accidents will always, always happen. I think as riders and people who associate with animals in general, we need to acknowledge and accept this. It's our love of horses and the sport that pushes us past these sad times. Again, I'm so so sorry for you, your barn, and the horse. Highly intelligent(think mammals, primates, dogs, cats, horses) animals have shown to show signs of grief, so make sure that you give the woman's horse a good scratch and some company - it'll comfort the both of you.


                                • #17
                                  I am sorry for your freinds accident!!! And yes it is a dangerous thing. The things we do for love!!!!


                                  • #18
                                    If you think about it this way... (i've had friends die from horses) - the same way I feel about off-roading if you're going to go... your gonna go doing something you love.
                                    You board with what I call a, sh!t disturber - Patty Lynch


                                    • #19
                                      I work in Surgery at a local hospital. Everyone at work knows I ride. I just trail ride, but I frequently ride less than desirable critters. We started our own mustang. I am riding a twh for a friend. He is a saint. LOL. I just got a rescued paso in.....3 weeks later he bucked me off twice. Much to my embarassment, I am sure it was somehow my fault. I think he got attacked by flies the first time....the second time I am now sure he was sore from the first time. So yeah, my fault. Did I get hurt? No. Could I have gotten hurt? Heck yeah! I have since found that horse a more secure saddle for me and possibly a better fit for him. He is getting a couple of months off before we start again. I will restart him completely.

                                      Anyways, I do feel horses are dangerous, but I choose my battles. I chose which situations to put myself in. People at work think I am stupid for riding "a creature with a brain the size of a chicken". They think motorcycles are safer. They say potayto, I say potahto...different strokes for different strokes. They say I am nuts for riding mustangs....He is the safest thing I have ridden.

                                      I feel that I am in more danger driving to work than I am from my horses. I choose to ride knowing that it is risky, just like I choose to work in the OR where I am exposed to who knows what. I take precautions in everything I do.

                                      I have the time of my life riding. I could not imagine being without my horses. They are not my whole life, but they make my life whole.

                                      Now, if I can only recover from surgery.....I can ride again.
                                      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!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by grandprixjump View Post
                                        A Division of ACCIDENTS (I mean horse got stung, fell while trail riding on slippery surfaces, etc) and people BEING STUPID (advancing too fast thru the levels, putting a horse into a situation you should have known better, etc) I have a feeling you would find a large number of deaths due to equine accidents are a persons fault more than the horses.
                                        Are they? Most of the ones I've heard of recently were really experienced riders. She was a great rider, and her horse was not bombproof but wasn't a nutcase either. She just fell off- like we all do.

                                        Everyone wants to blame her, say "that couldn't be me, because I don't do things the way she did," but I am not sure it's so easy. We've all come off, we've all been injured. How much does it take to go from injury to death?

                                        She was not safety conscious- she was a brave rider and a free spirit. So, of course we can all reduce our risk by doing the things we know we should... double checking our tack, knowing the limitations of our horses, wearing our protective gear. But how much can we reduce it?

                                        These are all just musings on my part. I can't believe she is gone, I am going to miss her smiling face. I am worried about what will happen to her lovely mare. I hurt for her family.

                                        Yes, it's a community- we all tied blue ribbons in our horses' hair to remember her.