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A critical review of horse-related risk: a research agenda for safer mounts, riders and equestrian cultures

By K. Thompson, P. McGreevy, P. McManus

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While the importance of improving horse-related safety seems self-evident, no comprehensive study into understanding or reducing horse-related risk has been undertaken. In this paper, we discuss four dimensions of horse-related risk: the risk itself, the horse, the rider and the culture in which equestrian activities takes place. We identify how the ways in which risk is constructed in each dimension affects the applicability of four basic risk management options of avoidance, transference, mitigation and acceptance. We find the acceptance and avoidance of horse-related risk is generally high, most likely due to a common construction of horses as irrevocably unpredictable, fearful and dangerous. The transference of risk management is also high, especially in the use of protective technologies such as helmets. Of concern, the strategy least utilised is risk mitigation. We highlight the potential benefit in developing mitigation strategies directed at: (a) improving the predictability of horses (to and by humans), and (b) improving riders' competence in the physical skills that make them more resilient to injury and falls. We conclude with the presentation of a multidisciplinary agenda for research that could reduce accident, injury and death to horse-riders around the world.

Publication Title Animals
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 561-575
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani5030372
Author Address The Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Horseback riding
  3. Horses
  4. Humans
  5. Mammals
  6. Men
  7. open access
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. Primates
  10. Reviews
  11. Risk Assessment
  12. risk factors
  13. safety
  14. trauma
  15. ungulates
  16. vertebrates
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed