Many horse owners have never been injured by a horse. Of course, there is no reason to be afraid of horses. However, if you work with a large, reactive animal, you need to understand its usual behaviors and learn how to work safely with and around it. If you are careful and learn to understand horses, you can greatly reduce the risk of injury. The Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRP) states that 49.6% of horse-related injuries required « minor advice or treatment. » Below is a list of the most common injuries that can occur while working with a horse or riding.
1. Stepped on
It is not uncommon to get your toes caught because you didn’t step out of the way fast enough. Even experienced horse owners sometimes can’t move their feet at the right time. This can lead to serious problems. It is possible to step on toes, for example, when grooming hooves, but this is much less likely. After a fall, the horse may step on you, but often your horse will do its best to avoid you.
Horses can kick with their front or hind hooves, and they can kick back as well as forwards. Sometimes kicks are accidental, for example when a horse kicks a fly and the handler steps in. Some kicks are deliberate. There is also the risk of being kicked by another horse while riding. Therefore, when riding in a group, make sure there is a safe distance between horses.
Horses can kick with their front or hind hooves, and they can kick back as well as forwards. Sometimes kicks are unintentional, for example when a horse kicks a fly and the handler steps in. Some kicks are intentional. There is also the risk of being kicked by another horse while riding. Therefore, be sure to keep a safe distance between horses when riding in a group.
Riders have been seriously injured when a horse steps or falls on them. And, of course, head injuries are the most common cause of death among riders. You can learn to fall. But that doesn’t mean you can avoid all injuries. A helmet may not offer 100% protection, but statistics show that it greatly reduces the risk of traumatic brain injury.
Horses bite to defend themselves or to express annoyance and impatience. Some are insidious and disrespectful. Horses that become insistent when they want treats may become demanding and bite fingers and arms. Horses may bite so hard that fingers are broken and severe bruises and cuts result.
5. being knocked down
A horse can be knocked down when running free, tied, or led. The more you work with a horse, the less likely this is to happen, as you learn to anticipate the horse’s thoughts and actions. A fall can result in sprains, contusions, broken bones, and teeth.
6. Strains and sprains
When you first learn to ride a bike, you will wake up with soreness in your muscles that you don’t experience in other sports or activities. Many people experience pain in the muscles on the inside of their thighs. Others feel fatigued in their calf muscles, either on the outside or back, after a walk. Back pain is common and may indicate an ill-fitting saddle or poor seating position. The shoulders can also be tight. The good news is that most of this pain will go away as you strengthen and stretch these muscles and learn to ride better.
However, other strains can occur randomly. Many things can happen in a fall, such as a strain or twisting of joints and muscles during the fall or landing. If your horse is suddenly startled while you are leading him, you may pull muscles in your arm or shoulder. Sudden overexertion – such as lifting the saddle, lifting a bale of hay, or carrying a load of manure incorrectly – can also cause a pulled muscle.
7. Being dragged along
Being dragged off the ground or being pulled after a fall can cause injury. Even a relatively small pony can drag an adult and cause muscle strains and abrasions if you lose your balance. Of course, there is a risk of being kicked while you are down, whether you are being pulled or hanging from the harness. Getting caught in the stirrups can cause very serious injuries if the horse spooks, runs away, and kicks. Fortunately, dragging can be largely avoided by learning how to ride properly and using safety stirrups and appropriate footwear.
8. Riding between obstacles
When riding in an arena, you often encounter low branches that can scratch, sting, and even pull you out of the saddle. In a riding arena, you may be led through low gates or bump into walls or obstacles such as jumps or barrels.