ernanda Camargo, DVM, PhD, equine extension professor at the University of Kentucky (UK) described Saddle Up Safely and shared recent research on horse-related injuries and assessing concussions in riders at the 7th annual UK Equine Showcase, held Feb. 2 in Lexington.

Saddle Up Safely is a coalition of 40 medical, public health, and horse organizations in the U.S. and Canada that aims to raise awareness about horse riding and handling issues and educate equestrians on how to practice safer horsemanship.

In a recent study, researchers found that 14% of individuals seen in emergency rooms for horse-related injuries were admitted to the hospital. The number seen in the emergency room was less for horseback riding than other sports, but equestrians represented the highest percentage of participants admitted among other activities.

Researchers also found that were instructors and professionals are at a greater risk of serious injury. The most common injury cause was falling from a horse, followed by being kicked. The main reason patients were hospitalized was due to head, neck, and spine injuries.

Camargo also discussed concussions and horseback riding. There are eleven “Rs” when it comes to concussions: recognize, remove, re-evaluate, rest, rehabilitation, refer, recover, return to sport, reconsider, residual effects and sequelae, and risk reduction.

Equestrian culture has traditionally dictated that, after a fall or accident, “if you’re not dead, get back in the saddle,” she said. However, as researchers and doctors are learning more about concussions, they’re emphasizing the importance of following those Rs when it comes to injuries, concussions, and returning to riding.

Saddle Up Safely also recently launched a smartphone app, which gives individuals access to the concussion and injury assessment and the return to riding protocol. Additionally, the app provides access to all Saddle Up Safely publications and checklists. These tools can prove extremely helpful for equestrians recovering from an injury and thinking about returning to riding, she said.

Author: Alexandra Harper