University of Vermont AAHS

February 1999, Vol. X, Number 1

 Table of Contents
 ASTM Standard for Body Protectors
 Eventing Safety in Australia
 Responses to Cycling with Helmet
 City of Plantation Requires Helmets
 Questions and Answers
 Protective Headgear in a Commercial Riding Stable
 Book Review: Winners
 Letters to Editor about Picture
 Motor Vehicle Accidents with Horses in British Columbia
 News Items

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ASTM Standard for Body Protectors for use in Horse Sports and Horseback Riding

Approximately one year ago, the University of Tennessee Sports Biomechanics Impact Research Laboratory was approached by various Equestrian Associations to develop a U.S. standard for body protectors used in horse sports and horseback riding. An investigation was undertaken to determine the types of injuries which occur and the products which are currently on the market. Then existing body protector standards were researched [BETA and SATRA (both of the UK)] and different aspects from each of these standards were utilized as part of a first draft of an ASTM standard. The following outline includes some of the key steps followed in developing the standard. After deliberation and revision the final draft was approved by ASTM members and became a standard in November of 1998.


The minimum coverage requirements for the BETA, SATRA, and ASTM standards have been provided in Figures 1, 2, and 3 respectively.  Note:  The requirements are somewhat different than the diagrams would indicate as the outlines are of a “typical” product laid out for measure and the true minimums are somewhat less.

As you can see the requirements are very similar for each of the standards.  There has been some discussion about the apparent 10% difference (70% of A as opposed to 80% of A) on the arm hold dimension between the ASTM and SATRA standard, but, upon close examination the difference is very minor.  In order to demonstrate the difference between the actual minimum coverage requirements for the ASTM and the SATRA standard both have been superimposed on one another in Figure 4.

Notice the arm hole dimension on the SATRA standard is actually more limited due to the specified coverage of the area under the arm hole. It is actually somewhat difficult to attain 80% of the chest girth (dimension A) without simply making the arm hole square.  Therefore we felt that 70% of the chest circumference offered more coverage, with little or no difference in range of motion.  In addition, the small area of coverage in the coccyx area offers very limited protection and has been blamed on causing some vests to “ride up” on younger riders to the point where the front of the protector covers the eyes. For this reason that coverage is not a requirement of the ASTM standard.

One major difference between the ASTM standard and the current standards is the method used to determine dimension B (the waist to waist over the shoulder length).  All of the standards utilize this measurement in the determination of the coverage requirements; but, the measurement of this dimension is very ambiguous in the BETA and SATRA standards.  For example, the current methods require the test technician to understand the anatomy of the body. He must be able to locate the supra-cristal plane.  Then he must linearly interpolate the distance that the plane of the waist is from the supra-cristal plane by using the example of 2 inches above for a 70 inch tall subject.  However, he can avoid all of this if he can locate the highest point of the iliac crests which in turn is at the plane of the waist.  After determining where the plane of the waist is, he must calculate the distance lateral to the mid-line of the subject for the plane of the waist to waist over the shoulder dimension.  One can calculate this by linearly interpolating using the example of 3.5 inches for a waist girth of 34 inch. Even if the test technician does happen to persuade an average size individual (with a chest size that is the mid-value of the range that the vest should fit) to allow him to take the necessary measurements, the equations to determine the location of the plane of the waist and the plane of the waist to waist over the shoulder are probably not a linear function.

The method used to determine dimension B has been simplified in the ASTM standard. Using anthropometric data gathered from The Society of Automotive Engineers,  The MIT Press, and various guides used by and for tailors; a formula has been developed which closely represents the average waist to waist over the shoulder length for men and women. Now, with the aid of a calculator, the test technician simply plugs the chest circumference into the formula and calculates the minimum for dimension B.

Impact Requirements

The impact velocity for this standard is 3.15 m/s which results in an impact energy of 25 J. This is the mid-value of the impact energies required for the SATRA standard and is very similar to the requirements of the BETA standard. However the shape of the impactor and the elimination of a “ring” over which the test specimen is supported results in the ASTM standard being somewhat more demanding of the protective capabilities of the protector.  In addition, the ASTM standard utilizes a deformation test which is similar to one used in the National Institute of Justice standard entitled “Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor.” It was felt that the amount of deformation which results from a 25 J impact energy is critical to preventing or reducing the severity of some of the more traumatic injuries in the sport.  Therefore the circumference of the impacting object and the impact velocity of the ASTM standard versus the NIJ standard was analyzed to determine a maximum deformation limit of 1 inch.

In conclusion, several test body protectors have been made and a variety of materials were tested in the development of this standard. Many variations are able to comply and test riders report that products which meet this standard are as “wearable” as those protectors they are currently using. This standard effort was in response to the US Pony Club, American Medical Equestrian Association and other riding groups which had the desire to adopt/recommend this ASTM standard.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Cherie Alexander (ASTM technical contact for this effort) at the University of Tennessee Sports Biomechanics Impact Research Laboratory (423-974-2016).

Cherie Alexander
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Eventing Safety in Australia

My first involvement with the sport of eventing came in the early 1980’s when, as a medical student, I attended South Australia’s Gawler Three Day Event as a first aid officer. In subsequent years I graduated to be the course Ambulance driver and finally to become chief medical officer. I also officiated at over one hundred other Events, and rode in over 50. At times, I managed to combine both duties (!) usually by ensuring that the organizers scheduled me as the last ride of the day. Ah well, I was younger then.

South Australia is a state of a little over a million people. Most live in the capital city, Adelaide. Much of the state is arid, although the hills around the capital are ideal horse country, a haven for eventers and home to two of Australia’s current gold medallists, Gillian Rolton and Wendy Schaeffer (both former patients!).

Eventing in South Australia has long had a small but hardy band of competitors. Most events are held in rural areas, sometimes hundreds of miles from Adelaide. Some competitors travel regularly to Melbourne and Sydney for competitions. Climatic conditions vary considerably: I have ridden cross county in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees and I have slept in the truck overnight and found my baked beans frozen in the tin in the morning.

Eventing is a dangerous sport, more dangerous than motorcycle racing according to my statistics.[1] Over the years I have treated over 50 downed eventers, including two critical injuries and one death. I usually expect one or two injuries in a field of 100. In 1998 I cancelled an event after attending 4 injuries and one death before midday.

The Equestrian Federation of Australia (EFA) is the governing body for eventing in this country. The EFA has required that a medical officer be present at events since the 1970’s. A doctor with significant trauma and resuscitation skills is desirable, though at times simply getting a doctor of any description is difficult. I carry full intubation and resuscitation equipment and have used IV fluids, narcotics, ketamine, epinephrine and an endotracheal tube on course. In most cases we also have a number of trained St. John first aid personnel. They usually bring a well-equipped mobile first aid unit with oxygen, splints, cervical collars, lifting frames etc. They also carry ambulance frequency radios enabling rapid ambulance dispatch if required. South Australia is well served by an intensive care physician based aeromedical retrieval service. If the location of the event is more than 30-40 minutes by road from Adelaide, I consult with the medivac pilot on the morning of the event and have on one occasion had the helicopter land on course during an event.

The EFA does not mandate that an ambulance be present on course. At most events we arrange that all casualties be brought to a designated field hospital on course, usually strapped to a scoop stretcher or Jordan frame. The fifteen or more minutes that generally elapse between the fall and the arrival at the field hospital is usually sufficient time for the arrival of the ambulance. Given the difficulty in obtaining suitably experienced physicians for events, I have long believed we should allow the use of paramedic personnel to provide emergency medical cover at events. I believe that in many cases they may have better trauma skills than inexperienced physicians, but the question of liability may arise if they are called to certify whether a rider is fit to continue after a fall. We brief our jump judges to hold and time a rider pending medical clearance following a significant fall. Incidentally, I have learned over the years not to ask fallen riders what their names are when screening them for fitness to continue…many still remember this, but draw a blank when asked where their next jump is!

Following its introduction in the late 1970’s, Australian Standard AS 2063.3 approved helmets were required during the cross country phases of equestrian events. Then, regrettably, from 1996 to 1998 the EFA suspended the rule, temporarily accepting legal advice that they might be liable if a competitor were injured whilst wearing an EFA mandated helmet. Since 1998 the EFA have again required AS 2063.3, or the newer EN 1384 or ASTM F1163 standard helmets during the cross country and show  jumping phases of events. AS 2063.3 is now an old standard, introduced in 1977 and is under review. I strongly believe its 400g limit is too high and understand that the new Australian Standard will adopt a 250g limit. Two South Australian eventers have died of head injuries at events since 1996 (a third died of chest injuries, see below). Both wore AS 2063.3 helmets. In one case, the rider was thrown head first into a tree from a galloping horse in an impact that was probably unsurvivable. In the second, a highly regarded Australian national and international representative sustained unexpectedly severe head injuries in a relatively minor fall onto soft ground. In the latter case there was little crush of the helmet liner.

I have strongly resisted the suggestion of a regulation for the mandatory use of ‘chest protectors’ or vests. I am sceptical that they provide anything more than minor soft tissue protection. The two most serious chest injuries I have seen at events were both crush injuries. One, a current national Pony Club champion, died at the scene from a ruptured aorta, despite immediate aggressive on site care. The other was admitted to the ICU with 16 broken ribs. Vests lack the rigidity to support their own weight, much less the weight of a horse, and Mills’ paper [2] suggests the rider would have to look like the Michelin man to gain significant protection from a vest. On the down side, vests can be hot, uncomfortable and expensive (especially if I cut yours off after a fall), and I am concerned at the number of riders who tell me the vest has given them the confidence to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

On the brighter side, acting as medical officer at events has allowed me to meet, stick needles in and cut the clothes off many of this country’s (and some overseas) equestrian stars, and ensured that I never get balloted out of any Events that I enter.

Bruce Paix, M.D.

[1] Paix BR. Rider Injuries and Emergency Medical Services at Equestrian Events. Br J Sp. Med. 1999. Accepted for publication.
[2] Mills NJ and Gilchrist A. Body Protectors for Horse Riders. 1990. IRCOBI, Sept 12-14, France, Lyon. 155-167

Editor’s Note:
Dr. Bruce Paix’s medical fields are Anesthesia and Intensive Care. He has advanced training in Emergency Medicine. He is an Honorary Medical Adviser to the Equestrian Federation of Australia, and has been Medical Officer at over 100 equestrian events including the Gawler Three Day Event and the Australian and World Championships. His research interests are impact biomechanics, helmet design, emergency medical services in the field, aeromedical evacuation, and horse rider injuries.

Doris Bixby Hammett, MD

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Responses to cycling with and without a helmet

This study examined the effects of wearing a helmet on selected body temperatures and perceived heat sensation of the head and body while cycling in a hot-dry (D) (20% relative humidity (RH) and hot-humid (H) (35°C, 70% RH) environment. Ten male and four female cyclists (mean  SD: males = age 27 ± 7 yr, peak 02 uptake (V02) 4.10 ± 0.54 Lmin-1; females = age 26 ± 3 yr, peak 02 uptake (V02) 3.08 ± 0.49 Lmin-1) performed four randomized 90-mm cycling trials at 60% of peak V02 both with (HE) and without (NH) a commercially available cycling helmet in both D and H environments. V02, core (Tc), skin (Tsk), and head skin temperatures, heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and perceived thermal sensation of head (TSH) and body (TSB) were measured throughout exercise. For all measured variables, no significant difference was evident between HE and NH. However, Tc, Tsk and mean head skin temperatures were higher (P < 0.001) in H than it D. Likewise, RPL, TSH, TSB (P<0.001), and sweat rates (H= 1.33 ± 0.32,  D =  1.14 ± 0.23  L·h -1) (P < 0.01) were higher in H versus D.

Results indicate that use of a commercially available cycling helmet while riding in a hot-dry or hot-humid environment does not cause the subjects to become more hyperthermic or increase perceived heat sensation of the head or body.

Sheffied-Moore M, Short KR, Kerr CO, Parcell AC,  Bollster DR, and Costill DL
Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 29, No. 6, pp.755-761, 1997.

Editor’s Note:
This study was done with bicyclists with bicycle helmets but the finding can be transferred to the equestrian activities. The scientists found no difference in the riders’ temperatures or in the riders’ perception of these temperatures, with or without a helmet. Heat is not a factor in requiring vented ASTM SEI equestrian helmets.

Doris Bixby Hammett, MD
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City of Plantation, Florida, Requires ASTM SEI helmet when riding on public property

Proposed final reading to be January 27, 1999

WHEREAS, the City of Plantation enjoys municipal home rule powers to enact laws relating to the public’s health safety, and welfare pursuant to Art. VIII, Section 2(b), Fla. Const. and the Municipal Home Rule Powers Act. § 166. Fla.Stat. (1997) and,

WHEREAS, the City of Plantation has original jurisdiction over all streets and highways within the City’s boundaries, except state laws, to regulate, warn and guide traffic, including equine animal traffic, pursuant to the State Uniform Traffic Control Laws, §316.006(2)(b), Fla. Stat, (1997), §316.008(1), Fla. Stat, (1997), and §316.003(53), (57), Fla. Stat. (1997); and,

WHEREAS, there are numerous parks, school sites, water control district properties, and other areas within Plantation where equestrian activities occur or are planned (see for example, the City of Plantation Comprehensive Plan Plantation Acres Neighborhood Design Element Policy 1.1.  l.  1.3.A) and the City wishes to regulate activity within such areas; and,

WHEREAS, the City legislatively determines that requiring persons to wear helmets when riding horses and other equine animals promotes the public’s  health, safety, and welfare;


SECTION 1:  A new Section 25-93 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Plantation, entitled: “Helmet required for riding horses or other equine animals in Plantation”, is hereby created to read as follows: Sec. 25-93.  Helmets required for riding horses and other equine animals in  Plantation.

(a)  It is the intent of the City of Plantation by enacting this section to promote safety, regulate traffic, and regulate lawful activities within defined public areas.

(b)  After March 1, 1999, an equine animal rider must wear a helmet that meets the American Society of  Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards (or any other nationally recognized standard for equine helmets adopted by the police department through a Police Chief’s Executive Order) which is properly fitted and fastened securely upon the rider’s head by a strap, when riding in public area. This requirement applies regardless of whether a rider is controlling the equine animal. As used within this subsection, the term “equine animal” means a horse, pony, mule, or donkey.  The term “public area” as used within this subsection means:

i.    all areas within the City where the City of Plantation enjoys original jurisdiction to regulate traffic pursuant to the State Uniform Traffic Control Laws;

ii.   all parks, school sites, or public owned or controlled property

iii.  all privately or publicly owned property which comprises the equestrian trail along Flamingo Road and Old Hiatus Road, the North New River Canal, and the north City limits as developed pursuant to Policy No 1.1.1 of the City Comprehensive Plan, and the horse trail along the berm parallel to New Flamingo Road and 124th Avenue as identified in Policy No.1.1 3.A of the City Comprehensive Plan.

(c)  After March 1, 1999, no parent of any person under the age of eighteen (18)  years and no guardian of any ward under the age of eighteen (18) years may authorize or knowingly permit any such minor person or ward to violate any of the provisions of this section.

(d)   After March 1, 1999, no person may knowingly rent or lease any equine animal to be ridden by a person unless the prospective rider possesses a helmet meeting the requirements of  subsection (b) above or the lessor provides a helmet meeting such requirements for the prospective rider to wear.

(e) Any person who violates this section may be issued a citation by a law enforcement officer for a fine of fifteen dollars ($15.00). The court must dismiss the charge against an equine animal rider for a first violation of this section of the Code upon proof of purchase of a helmet that complies with subsection (b) above. The court may waive, reduce, or suspend the payment of any fine imposed under this section, and may impose any other conditions on the waiver, reduction, or suspension. If the court finds that a person does not have sufficient funds to pay the  fine, the court may require the performance of a specified number of hours of community service or attendance at an appropriate safety seminar.

(f) This section does not apply to professional equine animal rider when performing in the scope of their employment or services during a show or event, where all riders displaying skills during the show or event are professional or are employees of the show owner, and where the City issues an exclusive license or permit for the public property used, and which license or permit may include requirements for insurance, indemnities and bonds.  This subsection (f) is intended to be narrowly construed and is intended to apply to any rodeo shows or circuses or the like where the professional rider does not, for show purposes, wear a helmet (i.e. a performing “cowboy” or “clown”);  however, this section would require all persons who are visiting the event and engaging in an offered horse or pony or other equine ride to wear a helmet which is properly fitted and securely fastened.

SECTION 2: Should any section, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase or other part of this Ordinance be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of this Ordinance as a whole or any portion or part thereof; other than the part so declared to be invalid.

SECTION 3: This Ordinance shall take effect immediately upon passage on second reading by the City Council and signature by the Mayor.

City of Plantation
Mayor Frank Veltri
400 NW 73th Avenue
Plantation, FL 33317

Editor’s Note:
Councilman Ron Jacobs introduced the ordinance after the death of a 15 year old girl riding in Plantation without a helmet had her horse spook, run into a fire hydrant causing the rider to fall hitting her head on the pavement with fatal injury. In a nearby town a 14 year old boy rode a borrowed horse without his father’s knowledge or permission. The horse ran away, the rider fell and the horse kicked him the head. He was wearing a protective helmet which was cracked and demolished. The boy had minor injuries and his father said that the helmet saved his life.

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Questions & Answers

Frequently, the AMEA receives questions concerning medical matters involving horsepersons. We always try to find an answer through our membership. The AMEA News felt that our readers would be interested in these questions and would be willing to provide answers to the inquirer.

Q:  I am a physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I am wondering if you have any information (or could point me towards some) with regard to superficial vein thrombosis secondary to horseback riding.  The individual I am dealing with is asymptomatic but I am curious about how common this is and what can be done to prevent it. The veins involved would be the small saphenous and some of its branches (dorso-lateral aspect of  leg and foot). The findings are bilateral.

James A.Filbey, MD

A:  I am sure that you have eliminated the polycythemia, clotting disorders, platelet abnormalities and there is no blockage in the venous return system of the lower extremities. I presume the patient is not obese and whose clothes and saddle do not cause restrictions, pressure or bruises. With these causes eliminated, we now are looking at a normal healthy horseback rider who has superficial vein thrombosis of the lower extremity.

Doris Bixby Hammett, MD

I have not known of small saphenous vein thrombosis or venous incompetence related to horseback riding. Is there a family history of venous vein incompetence?  Is the occupation of the patient a contributing a factor?  Is there a history relative to post partum problems?  Has an abdominal tumor been ruled out? If you are certain that bilateral thrombi have occurred and you completed the studies suggested by Dr. Bixby Hammett, perform simple Trendelenburg tests to demonstrate retrograde flow, incompetent valves and/or a venogram of the small saphenous vein.

George Koepke, MD, Findlay, OH

I have seen one person who has developed thrombophlebitis in the calf secondary to riding. She was treated with anticoagulants for 3 months with no restriction in riding during treatment or after. It occurred after a long riding period in training for a championship (which she finished first in the World Championship).

William Brooks, MD

 J. Filbey, MD:  The patient is not, unfortunately, pursuing further investigations. The patient is doing fine and continues to ride.

If you have further comments or recommendations contact Dr. J. Filbey, Resident PM & R, P.O. Box 2000,  Chedoke Hospital Campus, Holbrook Rehabilitation Centre rm d170, Hamilton, On  L8N 3Z5, Canada

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Protective headgear in a commercial riding stable

Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley, NC, has been a commercial horse operation since 1934. In this length of time we have seen the industry emerge from a Mom and Pop, Let The Rider Beware, atmosphere to one that must, out of necessity, take any and all precautions to keep the inexperienced rider safe from his/her lack of knowledge and from the unexpected incidents of this animal related sport.

In the early years of our ranch the world was a different place. People who participated in any potentially dangerous sport understood that they were somewhat at risk and without a second thought they knew that they were ultimately responsible for their own actions. This is not to say that we were careless and sloppy in our operation. We were just as careful then as we are today on the care and maintenance of our tack, the compatibility of horse to rider and the insistence of a wrangler for every ride. Care was taken that in only certain places did they trot or canter, and beginner riders seldom got out of a walk. As a result, accidents were kept to a minimum, with no serious injury on record.

But times changed and the insurance companies began demanding compliance with certain rules and regulations regarding protective headgear in the early 1990’s. These regulations included protective headgear that meet ASTM Equestrian Standards, mandatory for children under the age of 12, and the signing of a waiver for those adults who did not want to wear a protective hat. I remember that our reactions to these requirements was fear that the riding public would revolt, that they would quit riding rather than abide by the rules and regulations. I guess that we were the ones not in step with other active sports of our time. Bicyclists, rock climbers, ski racers, and motorcycle riders had all helped pave the way for riders to accept, and approve, the use of protective headgear. Today we have as many helmets as we do horses and everyone must sign a waiver if they do not wear one.  All children 12 and under are required to wear a helmet and during yellow jacket season all riders must have on a helmet.

I feel at times that the people in the horse industry are inclined to be reluctant to admit that there is a certain amount of danger in the sport. Are they afraid that they will loose customers if they mention the danger? Do they not want to give an image of risk? For whatever reason we have found that the general public appreciates all the advice and safety measures that we can offer.

Judy Alexander Coker
Cataloochee Ranch
Maggie Valley
North Carolina 29751

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Book Review: "Winners!"

"The Story of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs in the Horse Racing Industry"

Curtis L. Barrett, Ph.D. and Don C. Clippinger

No one is safe. No one is immune. No industry unaffected. Drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent and if left unchecked will affect each and every one of us in some way or another. Equestrian sports are just as vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and drug abuse as any business and “Winners!” shows us just how deep the problems run.

Whether we support the racing industry, and thereby support the estimated 30 to 40 percent of backstretch workers who are abusing alcohol, or we choose to ignore the industry, and thereby ignore the epidemic of those addicted, we will all be touched. Lost revenues, injuries to people and animals, broken dreams and ruined lives are all occurring on a daily basis as Dr. Barrett and Mr. Clippinger all too graphically illustrate throughout “Winners!”.

As with all addictions, the first step to correcting the problem is recognizing the problem. Barrett and Clippinger not only make this possible, they make it impossible to ignore. If the problems facing the racing industry were injuring the horses, directly and visibly, there would be a public outcry to correct the problem. Sadly, with the exception of a special few, there are not enough of these concerned citizens to speak out on behalf of those people whose addictions are fed by, supported by and even encouraged by those of us on the other side of the fence. Sometimes the grass is not always greener, it’s just a different flavor. “Winners!” makes you take a deep, hard look at yourself and society as a whole. Read the book, become aware of the problem and get involved.

C. B. Thuss, Jr., M.D
President and Certified M.R.O.
Absolute Drug Detection Services, Inc
1400 Urban Center Drive,
Suite 115
Birmingham, AL 35242
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TIMES RECORDER  Zanesville, OH 43701

The enclosed picture from your Thursday August 6 paper gives me great concern every time I read the caption “Giddy Up.”  Two young children are sitting double on  horse, without headgear of any type, shorts, and one wonders concerning the footwear.  The horse’s ears are back giving a message of annoyance.

Over 70% of horse related deaths are from head injury which can be prevented by ASTM SEI protective equestrian headgear. Of all horse related injuries, 20% are to the head with this number increased in children. Riding double on a horse increases the risk of injury. The ages 5 - 14 years have one fifth of all horse related injuries. These figures are from medical studies.

The TIMES RECORDER has a responsibility to its readers for education to prevent horse related accidents and injuries.  We ask that your sport/recreation editor know the figures in the horse activities. We ask that as editor you chose only pictures that show safe horsemanship, with proper attire including a fitted secured ASTM SEI helmet.

Thank you for sharing our concern.

Doris Bixby Hammett, MD

Response to picture in TIMES RECORDER

I appreciate the concern for every riders safety, but let us go to the picture and let me tell you what I see.

1. I see two boys on a very irritated horse: the larger boy a little worried and telling the smaller boy where to hold on.
2. I see a bridle with the bit almost falling out of the horses mouth.
3. I see a halter too small for the horse. I prefer the halter not on with a bridle.
4. I see a saddle pad much too thin and not under the larger boy, therefore letting the saddle press down on the horse’s withers.
5. I see the smaller boy’s legs in the flanks of the horse which is probably causing the irritated look on the horse.
6. I see a beautiful horse; one that makes six children very happy.
I believe that adult supervision should always be present. Horseback riding lessons are more needed than ASTM SEI protective headgear but if the family could afford it the child should have both.

Roy Propst,  Keymar, MD.

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Motor vehicle accidents with horses in British Columbia

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) insures almost 100% of all British Columbia drivers. The 1996 reports for motor vehicle accidents (MVA) involving domestic animals (Code 70) were reviewed of which there were two hundred and eighty-seven reports. This revealed 38 accidents definitely involving horses (13.2%) and 112 reports (39%) in which the animal was not specified.

Dogs were involved in 79 (28%) of the Code 70 reports. Of the 38 MVAs involving horses 87% occurred in the dark, 87% involved male drivers, and 53% occurred in the months November, December and January. The average age of the driver was 35 years. Virtually all the MVA’s occurred in  rural or farming areas. Thirty-nine percent of the MVA’s involved injuries to the driver of the motor vehicle.

Only two horses were actually being ridden at the time of the incident.

Often more than one horse was involved and 55% were dead or destroyed at the scene. The other 45% were not specified. Only one case involved alcohol and 2 cases blamed the weather.

The tax payer paid over $270,000 in vehicle damage alone without considering the loss of the horse, medical treatment, and time loss from work. Often the police estimate of car damage simply stated ”write-off”. British Columbians were fortunate in 1996 that no drivers were killed in MVAs involving horses but in Manitoba  two drivers were crushed to death by the horse coming through the windshield. In rural areas it is extremely important to exercise additional caution when driving in order to avoid crashes with horses. It is even more important for ranchers and farmers to ensure their livestock cannot escape and cause accidents. Riders should always wear reflectors in such a way as to be easily seen by automobile drivers at night.

Janet Sorli, MD
Surrey, BC

Editorial Notes:
The USA does not have the information available to Dr. Sorli.

The AMEA News (Nov. 1997 Vol. 8 Number 3)  gave the horse related deaths as recorded by the National Center of Health Statistics. These figures did not address injury or death to horses by motor vehicle, only the injury to the human involved. For the 12 years covered by these figures, there were 74 deaths which gave about six deaths a year from motor vehicles to horse persons.

In seeking another possible source of information in the USA, Lyn Cianflocco NCSA Information Services Branch, was contacted with the report that in 1997, there were 14 fatal crashes, and 14 fatalities where the person related factor was an occupant of a non-motor vehicle transport device. A non-motor vehicle transport device refers to persons riding in an animal-drawn conveyance, on an animal, or injured occupants of railway trains, etc. This figure may be similar to the six horse related deaths a year given in the above figures.

Doris Bixby Hammett, MD

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News Items

Executive Secretary Michael Nolan Reports

The Annual Meeting of the AMEA was held in the Research Triangle area in North Carolina with the Duke University Medical School providing continuing medical education certification. Program Chair, Dr. Maureane Hoffman, produced an excellent group of speakers for the two day educational sessions, including speakers on therapeutic riding, managing injuries, spinal injuries, injury epidemiology, and safety education.

During the meeting, the AMEA Board met, and set direction for the organization for 1999. The Rider Safety video project, being produced by Dr. Bill Lee, is proceeding. The video has been widely distributed in the horse industry, and Dr. Lee is at work on a speakers package/lesson plan for use with the video.

The Board also addressed the need for broader recognition from sport sanctioning organizations, breed registries and others that the AMEA can provide technical assistance on medical and safety issues to help make riding a safe and even more enjoyable sport.
During the general membership meeting, Drs. Maureane Hoffman and Janet Sorli were elected as directors. Dr Sorli will be the program chair for the 1999 AMEA meeting in British Columbia on November 5-7.

1999 Annual Meeting

In 1999, Vancouver, BC will be the site of the annual meeting of the American Medical Equestrian Association.  Horse Council and Canadian Equestrian Federation will be co-hosts making it an outstanding meeting.  The AMEA plans to present the Ayer-Hammett safety award to an equestrian who is eminent in leadership for safety as a special evening of entertainment--called the Festival of the Horse which includes many riding disciplines from driving to dressage and reining.

Some of the horses features will be PMU foals which are a result of the new enhanced breeding program from Ayerst.  British Columbia is a province with an estimated 75,000 horses.

Janet Storli, MD
Surrey, BC Canada

Britain approves U.S. helmet standard

From TACK AND TOGS, December 1998

The British Horse Society (BHS) has announced that helmets meeting the ASTM F-1163 standard now have its approval.  In a statement after a recent Board of Trustees meeting the BHS said, “The policy of the British Horse Society is to recommend that the best appropriate protective headgear shall be worn correctly fitted and fastened at all times when mounted.  The BHS recommends hats to the standard PAS 015, BSEN 1284 or ASTM F1163.”

John E. Lewis, Contributing Editor

Janet Marie Friesen Sorli elected to AMEA Board

Born in the Red River Valley of Southern Manitoba, Janet Marie Friesen came by her love of horses naturally.  Her forefathers were all farmers who used draft horses, driving horses and saddle horses. One grandfather bred Percherons. Her grandmother delivered babies on the isolated prairie, sewed lacerations, set bones and prepared the deceased for burial. At sixteen Janet worked for the local town doctor who was also a Medical Examiner. While out on a particularly gruesome drowning in 90° weather the doctor insisted Janet try medicine as a career. After two years of Pre-med she was accepted into the University of Manitoba Medical School. Within two years she was completely out of bursaries and accepted a position in the pathology department as a student resident for one year. During that time she collaborated on two research papers. She presented the findings at the International Congress of Forensics Sciences in Wichita, Kansas, and was awarded the William J. Deadman Prize in Forensic Science. This was presented to her in Ottawa and included a trip to Bergen, Norway, to the next International meeting. She studied Forensic Science further in Toronto at the Centre for Forensic Sciences. Upon returning to her third year of Medicine she chose an elective in radiology in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where her Low German dialect allowed her to rapidly understand Dutch. Finally she graduated medical school in 1980 and chose McGill University for a rotating internship. While visiting her brother in Vancouver she met Ove Sorli, a commercial salmon fisherman and aluminum boat builder.  They were married three months later in Montreal.  Her fist job on completion of her internship was as deckhand on the fishboat for three months during which she was sea sick and vomited every day.

When they returned from the Northern coast of British Columbia she started a general practice, delivering babies and doing Emergency shifts.  Janet was actively involved in the Medical Executive of the local hospital for ten years including Chairperson. In 1982 she had a son, Kristian.

After many years of wishing she finally started riding horses 6 years ago and has guided in a park, riding English or Western. She has competed successfully in team cattle penning, competitive trail, reining and equitation. She has published several articles of research in riding injuries and received the Simm Award in 1997 for research.

Due to her presentation of injury findings the British Columbia Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association have passed resolutions supporting the use of helmets by all riders. Janet presented her findings as well as the “Rider Safety” and “Every Time…Every Ride” videos to instructors and members of the Horse Council of BC.

She has also written extensively for the Medical Post, a weekly newsletter of the British Columbia Medical Association, and is an editorial advisor for the newsletter. As a hobby, she breeds Golden Retriever dogs.

Janet Sorli was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Equestrian Association at its annual meeting in Durham, NC, in 1998.

Denny Emerson presented Ayer-Hammett Award

Denny Emerson was presented the first Ayer-Hammett Award at the AMEA Annual Meeting on November 6, 1998. The AMEA Board created the Ayer-Hammett Award in 1997 to honor and recognize individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the area of rider safety.

Denny Emerson is currently Vice-President for 3 day eventing of the USET and on the Executive Committee of the AHSA. He was twice the President of the USCTA, was a member of the 1974 World Champion 3-day team and member of the 1976 Olympic team. He is a 1963 graduate of Dartmouth College.

He has been one of the most prominent proponents of examining the sport of eventing in order to reduce the serious accidents which have taken some of the best riders and horses. He has written and lectured on the subject, and because of his own success as a rider, has earned the attention of top event riders and others for efforts to improve safety.

The horse industry presents thousands of awards each year to recognized ability at riding and training, for excellence in teaching, for show management, and for attributes such as sportsmanship. However, there seemed to be little national recognition of leadership in making riding a safer and more enjoyable sport.

The late Neil Ayer was not only a leader of the U.S. Equestrian Team, but also took a major interest in improving rider safety. After his death, his family presented a grant to the AMEA for the production of a quality rider safety video.

The AMEA’s own Dr. Doris Bixby Hammett has been a leader and activist promoting safety, particularly the development and use of protective headgear.

The AMEA Board felt that these two individuals epitomized the ideals and actions it wanted to recognized with its award, and so named the award for them. In creating the Award, the AMEA Directors specified that it would not be presented every year, but only when there was a clearly qualified individual who merited this recognition.  If there is an individual you believe is qualified to receive the Ayer-Hammett Award, please send information on that person to the AMEA office, 4715 Switzer Road, Frankfort, KY 40601,

Michael Nolan
AMEA Executive Secretary

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