University of Vermont AAHS

May 1997, Vol. VIII, Number 1

Table of Contents

Victorian Injury Surveillance System - Australia
Recommendations: Riding
Recommendations: Ground
Editorial: Protective Vests
Health and Safety at Work in Equestrian Establishments
Editorial: Health and Safety at Work in Equestrian Establishments
North American Horsemen's Association Awards Four Year Grant to AMEA
Book Review: Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian
Book Review: The Total Rider
Safety in American Steeplechasing

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Horse Related Injuries
Victorian Injury Surveillance System - Australia

Of the 1330 cases of injury involving horses on the Victorian Injury Surveillance System (VISS) database, 80% were to horse riders, the remainder occurred during horse handling activities or unrelated activities around horses.

The VISS data shows a predominance of injury to girls (10-19) who account for 41% of riding and 23% of the non-riding accidents. Children's injuries (under 15 years of age) were of a more serious nature than their adult counterparts accounting for 31% of children vs 22% of adult hospital admissions for horse riders and 42% vs 14% of non-riders.

A recent report (Australia) ranked horse riding activities in the top twenty sports/recreational activities resulting in presentation to a hospital emergency departments for treatment. Of more concern was their ranking as the third highest sport/recreation activity requiring hospital admission following presentation to an emergency department for children (34%) and the fourth highest in adults (20%).

Females predominated both in child cases (77%) and the adult collections (59%). Males began to dominate slightly from the age of 30, but only becomes marked in the 40-49 year age groups (16%)


The importance of roads as a factor in equestrian injuries has been recognized by the draft Proposed Australian Road Rules currently undergoing consultation. This draft includes a proposal that the use of safety measures by horse riders when on public roads be made mandatory. The proposals include requirements that all horse riders wear a protective helmet, reflectors when riding at night, and be allowed to use footpaths and nature strips.

Horse behavior 39%
Jumping 16%
Ground conditions 14%
Equipment problems 8%
Rider behavior 8%
Other 15%
TOTAL 100%

In 83 cases, a fright received by the horse was the factor leading to the injury event. Dogs and vehicles were the leading sources of fright, with other horses being the next cause of changes in behavior of the horse. Horse behavior was given as a factor in a greater proportion of child cases (61% of cases relating to horse behavior) compared with adults (39%).

Riding behavior was given as a contributing factor in 19% of child cases where a contributing factor was apparent, but in only 4% of such adults. Twelve cases were associated with bareback riding.

Rider was injured by another horse in 14, in 18 cases the horse and/or rider struck an object such as a tree, fence, traffic sign of other structure. Two of the 10 riding fatalities were the result of striking an object.

Mechanism of injury: N=1068

Falls predominated in both children and adults accounting for 77% of injuries, the horse rolled on victim (7%), kicks (4%) or the riders being dragged after getting the foot caught in the stirrup (2%).

Severity of injury:

Nearly half (48%) of victims of horse riding injuries required significant treatment, ie, referral or review after the initial consultation in the emergency department. A further 27% of victims required admission to a hospital.

Nature of Injury:

Fractures were the most common injury, followed by soft tissue injury (lacerations, bruising, abrasions), strains/sprains and cerebral concussion. Fractures accounted for 43% of child horse riding injuries (18% in all other child admissions) and 30% of adults (16% in all other admissions.) Fractures were predominantly to the upper limbs, particularly the radius/ulna (16% of children's injuries vs 5% of adult), humerus (8% vs 2%) and wrist (4% vs 5%) Another 4% of adults suffered rib fractures.

Soft tissue injuries (bruising, lacerations, abrasions) accounted for 33% of child injuries and 29% of adult injuries. Sprains and strains accounted for 6% of child and 15% of adult admissions, with the most commonly affected areas being ankles, (2%), shoulders, wrists and neck (each 1%).

Concussion accounted for 8% of presentations in both children and adults, 65% of whom required admission to the hospital. The proportion of child and adult presentations for concussions is greater for horse riding injury that for all sports injuries on the VISS database where 4% of child and 3% of adult injuries are for concussion.

Hospital admission data:

The data is limited to "animal being ridden" for identifying relevant cases and using 96% of animals being ridden as horses, the annual rate of injury is 18 per 100 population. The peak age for admission was 10-14 with the head and face injuries combined accounting for 29% of injuries, including intracranial injuries (12%), concussion (11%), and other head/face injuries 6%. A further 26% of injury was to the upper limbs and 4% to the spine including 14 cases over the 5 year periods of injury to the spinal cord

Mortality Data:

Data from the Coroner's database is available for the period 1988/89 to 1991/92 inclusive. Seventeen horse related deaths were reported in this time, with 10 of these being riding related injuries. In two of these 10 cases, the victim was riding and fell; in two cases, the victim struck an object (fence, power pole); the victim was struck by a vehicle in one case, and in the one case, two horses collided and fell on the victim. Two of these cases resulted from equipment failure (broken reins), one from the horse stopping suddenly, and one where the horse stumbled. In 3 cases, bolting by the horse led to the injury event and in one case, the victim's foot was caught in the stirrup and the victim was dragged for some distance. Of the 17 cases, 71% recorded injuries to the head and a further 71% to the chest.


For the purpose of this article, the definition of non-riding related injury included injury occurring other than during horse riding/driving or while preparing for/completing these activities (mounting and dismounting). This includes horse related activities (feeding, grooming, shoeing, leading into/out of trailers) and spectators or uninvolved bystanders.

These injuries are serious, particularly in children. One half of child injuries were to the head and face and 42% of children required admissions to the hospital. Age and gender patterns are discernible in certain non-riding activities. For example 10-14 year old females predominate in injuries occurring while walking and leading the horse; boys under 5 years of age were commonly injured while playing around the horse, and adults were more commonly injured while grooming and shoeing horses. In terms of body region injured, the head and face was the most common region injured in children (50%) while adult injuries were more common to the upper limbs (42%) particularly the fingers. The single most common mechanism of injury was kicks (44%).

Children in the 10-14 year old age group were the most common victims at the urban hospital (24% vs 10%); in contrast injury peaked in the 30-34 year old age group for the rural hospital (17% vs 3%). Nearly two thirds of child and one half of adult cases were to females. Fields and paddocks (29%), the victim's own yard (18%) and areas of transport (7%) were the most common sites for injury.

Injury Details:

Bruising (23%), fractures (22%), and lacerations (19%) were the most common injuries; however, there were considerable differences between children's and adult injuries in regard to the body regions injured. Figure 6. Forty-two percent of child victims and 14% of adult victims were injured seriously enough to require admission to the hospital. It is worth noting that the admission rate for children in non-riding related injuries is higher than the children's admission for horse riding related injury (42% vs 30%).

Walking/leading: N=52

Fifty two victims were injured while walking or leading a horse with 16 of these cases involving loading or unloading the horse onto a trailer. These scenarios most frequently involved girls in the 10-14 year old age group (21%) and in one third of cases the location was a field or paddock.

Just over 20% of cases involved the horse shying or taking fright. Another 11 victims were injured when their finger or hand was caught in the head rope or rein.

Feeding: N=25

One third of injuries were to children in the 10-14 are group and half occurred in paddocks. Kicks (12 cases) and bites (6 cases) were prevalent and in 3 cases these injuries were inflicted by a horse other than the one the victim was feeding.

Playing/Bystander: N=23

Nearly three quarters of injuries in this category were to children aged under 5, particularly boys (61% of total group). Nearly half of these injuries were to the head and face, and 19% of total injuries (7 cases) were fractures of the skull. Sixteen of the total cases (70%) were kicks, four of which occurred when the victim moved either behind a horse or into a group of horses.

Grooming: N=16

This group encompasses activities such as brushing (5 cases), grooming (3) and washing (2) the horse. Victims in this group tended to be older than in the other groups, three quarters were age 20 years and over, Three quarters of victims were female. Bruising accounted for 35% of all injuries to this group and finger injuries were the most common (4 cases). Half of the victims where kicked by horses, in two cases these were horses other than the one being attended.

Shoeing: N=12

All but one victim was aged over 15 years and two-third of victims were male. Injuries most frequently occurred when the horse moved its leg while being shod and the shoe nail cut the victim.

Other Injuries:

There were 8 cases on the data base of road traffic collisions with a horse. These involved 4 cars, two minibuses and two motorbikes. Of the remaining cases a further 65 victims were kicked by horses, 6 while patting the horse, 3 while catching the horse, two while assisting the breeding of the horse and two when letting the horse out of its enclosure. Another 18 victims were trod on by the horse, 8 were hit by the horse, 6 had fingers caught in ropes or reins while holding the horse, a further 4 were bitten and 4 were jammed between the horse and another object.

Mortality Data N=17

Seven deaths were related to non-riding activities as defined in this article. This figure is much higher proportion than that found on the VISS database, re-enforcing the possible serious nature of these type of injuries. Three victims were kicked by horses, two were involved in road traffic crashes when their car hit a horse that strayed onto the roadway, and the remaining two were trampled by horses.

HAZARD 23, June 1995, Horse-Related Injuries.
Victorian Injury Surveillance System
Accidents Research Centre
Monash University
Building 70
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3168 Fiona Williams, Karen Ashby
Art work by Jocelyn Bell, Education Resource Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

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Recommendations: Riding

1. Chose a horse of appropriate size, temperament, character and age for the rider's size and skill level, in conjunction with a trained and experienced horseperson. No beginner or child should have a horse aged less than five years, older horses are better for beginners.

2. Routine checks before mounting, check equipment for signs of fatigue and correct adjustment of fit. regular maintenance checks of all equipment should be undertaken.

3. Strongly recommended equipment: ASA (ASTM standard SEI certified in USA) approved helmet, stirrups matched to size of smooth heeled and soled boots. Boots should have elastic sides and riders should use non-slip gloves. Loose clothing should be avoided, long hair should be tied back and do not wear spectacles (if possible).

4. Where possible, avoid excessively soft/muddy ground and ditches, holes and uneven terrain with rocks and exercise caution if these surfaces are unavoidable.

5. Develop riding skills progressively and thoroughly and have a good knowledge of horse behavior. Over time, develop a bond with the horse and don't undertake bareback riding.

6. Exercise caution when riding in the presence of objects or animals that could frighten the horse (eg. other horses, dogs, vehicles) - this is particularly applicable to children.

7. An educational program is recommended to encourage recreational riders to have riding lessons with accredited instructors.

8. Limit riding in outside paddocks to experienced riders, inexperienced riders should always be supervised while riding.

9. Consider parental training schemes in instruction methods in rural areas.

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Recommendations: Ground

1. Small children should be separated from horses. safety precautions around horses should be taught from an early age under close supervision. The routine use of helmets in any smaller children around horses is recommended.

2. Further emphasis on safety in the area of risk factors for horse handling (as distinct from horse riding is needed. Awareness of the potential hazards associated with horse handling needs to be increased as does knowledge of the behavior and unpredictable nature of horses.

3. Sturdy boots should be worn when undertaking horse handling activities.

4. If possible the horse should be isolated from other horses when undertaking the types of activities described in this article.

5. Effective hand, particularly finger protection warrants investigation, with particular relevance to rope handling.

6. Avoid the back legs of horses at all times.

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Editorial: Protective Vests

Jerry N. Zebrack, MD, cardiologist, was asked concerning the rupture of the aorta in a deceased rider and if a protective vest might have prevented the death. His response: "Rupture of the aorta is one of the most common traumatic lesions involving the heart and the great vessels in the chest. About one out of every six automobile accidents victims dying with blunt chest trauma will have the cause being a ruptured thoracic aorta. In addition, it is usually the cause for demise with falls from high heights.

The cause for the rupture is related to sudden deceleration upon impact, which causes shearing forces, and thus the rupture. It is common to have a ruptured aorta with minimal external chest trauma as this is primarily an acceleration/deceleration problem.

I would doubt that a protective vest would have been sufficient enough to slow down the deceleration forces to prevent the aortic rupture.

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Health and Safety at Work in Equestrian Establishments
Medical Equestrian Association

The principal law applying to riding establishments is the "Health and Safety at Work Act." The responsibility for applying this Act is divided between the Health and Safety Executive and the local authority. Managing Health and Safety depends on:

1. Receiving information - e.g. about the nature of chemicals used, equipment and horses.
2. Seeking information - on possible hazards.
3. Analyzing and using this information.
4. Relaying the information to persons involved by instruction and training.
5. Consultation with employees about any changes to be made.
6. Cooperation between employers and employees.

Risk Assessment is based on:

1. Hazards - what can happen?
2. Risks - how likely it is?
3. Controls - what steps have already been taken to reduce the risk?
4. Further action - what else do we need to do?

The hazards in the equestrian activities are from:

1. Horses
2. Falls
3. Crushing
5. Slips, trips and falls -these cause the greatest number of injuries.
5. Strains - lifting, carrying, etc.
6. Chemicals
7. Machinery
8. Electricity

Removing and Controlling Risks: the hierarchy of control measures is:

1. Prevent the risk altogether - e. g. use safe disinfectants or chemicals, get rid of dangerous horses.
2. Combat the risk at source - e. g. eliminate the origin of dust such as moldy hay or straw.
3. Engineering Controls - e. g. dust extraction.
4. Systems of Work - e.g. mechanized lifting, going into a hazardous area (e.g. a dusty barn) as little as possible, safer ways of lifting.
5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - e.g. masks. This is the last resort.

Controlling Substances Hazardous to Health

1. Safe handling of chemicals - are medications safe for the handler as well as the horse?
2. Dust control
3. Zoonoses - precautions to be taken if animal diseases are transmissible to humans. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used if necessary but one should first ask "Is there a better way?"
The use of PPE applies to everyone at work except professional sports people during competition.

The suitability of PPE should be assessed by:

1. Is it appropriate for the risks and conditions of use?
2. Does it fit the wearer?
3. Does it prevent or adequately control the risk? - e.g. is safety footwear strong enough to protect against the horse that will stand on it?

Is it obligatory for employers and the self-employed to:

1. Provide PPE?
2. Maintain and replace PPE?
3. Provide accommodations for the PPE?
4. Inform, instruct and train the employee on the risks that it is protecting against, its purpose, its use and repair?
5. Ensure that the PPE is used?
6. Make good any loss or defect? Employees might not report loss or damage if they had to pay for it themselves.

Allan Spence
Health and Safety Executive
Reported in M.E.A. Newsletter
Winter 1996

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Editorial: Health and Safety at Work in Equestrian Establishments

Upon review of The Health and Safety Work Act, I assume that the intent of the law is to enforce a stable risk reduction/management plan which includes all potential factors for injury or loss to an employee's health and safety.

I think the outline is very good and well thought out.

 Providing adequate information to identify potential hazards, rank the risk involved and to provide staff training to avoid or minimize the chance of injury is an important first step in achieving a greater level of safety and health around horses. I would suggest that any general training program include information about the "nature of the horse."

 I would suggest adding five equestrian activities hazards to the six stated:

Foot injuries should be listed separately. Sound training should be provided in proper leading and handling and how to get a horse off one's foot quickly, since screaming and hitting the horse may make the horse stand longer and stronger/heavier on the foot. While foot injuries frequently seem minor, they can be debilitating and keep the injured person from being able to function safely on the job during recovery. Since an employee will often keep working after such an injury, they frequently do not care for it properly and determine if any bones are broken. This may lead to longer recovery and more debilitation than would be expected.

Horse Bites should be listed separately. Loss of fingers, and facial injuries requiring plastic surgery, often to lips, nose, or ears can be severe, temporarily debilitating, disfiguring and expensive injuries.

Fire and Storm - emergency procedures should be added. Proper training can help people to react with better judgment in an emergency. Weather condition factors, such as flood, hurricane, tornado, and soil conditions, water availability, etc., will be different depending upon geography, so any such plan needs to be customized for the location. Mood changes and reactions of a horse to wind storms, thunder, lightening and changes in the weather can be a safety and health factor.

Biting Insect Injuries/Integrated Pest Management should be added since allergic reactions can be severe and life threatening for some people. In some areas snake and scorpion/spider bites are a risk. Stables need to look into a whole integrated pest management program which includes cleanliness and natural pest controls.

Plants Toxic to Humans should be identified based on geography and soil types of the specific area. When pulling weeds by hand, one should wear appropriate clothing, gloves, not put fingers or hands on or in the mouth. Washing hands and arms and changing clothes before preparing food or continuing the affairs of the day must be routine. The County Extension offices can be of help in providing plant information and identification services.

 The section relating to removing and controlling risks is good. However, relating to item one: I would suggest that the definition of a "dangerous" horse be considered very carefully. In the legal system, the impression of judges and jurors having little or no knowledge of horses is my concern. From the stand point of US Civil law, horses are considered to be domesticated animals and are not considered "dangerous" to humans. While it is accepted that there is an inherent risk attached to working with and being around horses, it is extremely important that our horse companion and servant of man be considered "non-dangerous." It would be better to speak of horses as having low risk and high risk behavior.

Personal Protective Equipment: In many manufacturing and construction businesses of the US protective headgear and toe protective shoes are standard equipment. Stables should consider such requirements.

From the perspective of having a broad-based similar law in the US which could be applied in the horse industry, I have mixed feelings. We have now written and enforced risk reduction programs in the industry for ten and one-half years. Over these years I have seen most of the truly unsafe operators go out of business, while the shift toward safer conditions have continuously improved in the existent and new operations which have opened. Ten years ago many operators did not want an insurance source imposing even the most minimal risk reduction program on them. Today the concept is mainstream and most operators are really trying and thirsting for information.

I feel that more can and should be done to help the industry provide its own over-sight in the area of employee safety and health.

Some Facts:

Work comp rates for horse riders/drivers/stable workers are very high. Bringing down injuries and injury costs by 10% to 20% should be possible and beneficial to work comp rates.

The country has moved away from agricultural based economy in which many entering stable work force already had a long-term background in working with large, domesticated farm animals. The stable owner must frequently hire employees who do not have the "educated eye" and the automatic, instinctive response which helps them handle and protect themselves around large livestock.

Women are a much larger portion of the stable work force. Women may lack the size, weight, and strength to handle a horse with any kind of force and must depend on other handling skills which must be taught to them.

Stable workers often keep working after an injury.

North American Horsemen's Association strongly advocates the use of a general procedures manual in a horse business and employee safety and health issues are a part of it. Most horse business operators do not have the time or ability to write a whole manual, therefore developing a general procedures manual on software which the operator, their consultant, or attorney could change, add to and customize as needed would be of great benefit.

Linda Liestman
North American Horsemen's Association
Box 223
Paynesville, MN 56362

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North American Horsemen's Association Awards Four Year Grant to AMEA

Linda Liestman, President, North American Horseman's Association, announced that the NAHA had awarded the AMEA a four year grant in the amount of $1.00 for each paid member of the organization. NAHA encourages other horse organizations to do the same.

Ms. Liestman said that one of the AMEA's important functions for the horse industry is the maintenance of horse related accident-injury statistics within the US and other countries. Maintenance of equine related accident-injury statistics is vitally important to the function of the modern horse industry in many ways. She pointed out some of the benefits are:

Aids in determining horse organization and private horse industry policies and procedures, which are important to keeping horse handlers and riders reasonably safe.

Provides a clear picture concerning the risks involved with handling and riding horses in general activities and specific sports, thus helping to determine accident - injury trends and problems which require research or remedy to make the sports safer.

Assists in development of new and better technology and methodology for industry safety and helps determine what is or is not working.

Helps horse industry leaders give the news media and general public a more realistic image concerning the safety of horse activities, which can easily be compared with other sports and general activities in which people participate.

Provides actuarial information which helps the horse industry remain at reasonable rates.

Aids in better handling of law suits and insurance claims.

The grant is to begin in 1997 and extend through the year 2000.

North American Horsemen's Association address is: Box 233, Paynesville, MN 56362

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Book Review: Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian
Mary D. Midkiff

Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian de-mystifies the riding mystique for women, who comprise 80% of the riding population in the United States, but its appeal is universal for any rider or coach who undertakes teaching the art and science of horsemanship. With contributions from Peggy Cummings, a Centered Riding Master Instructor, Mary Beth Walsh, who combined physical therapy with her British Horse Society Assistant Instructor certification to evaluate equestrian biomechanics and orthopedic injury, and Margaret McGovern, a licensed nutrition consultant, Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian covers the gamut of topics so pertinent to today's riders. Proper health practices, including diet, physical conditioning, common injuries, tack, clothing, and suppling exercises, receive their share of attention in this comprehensive treatise. Lavishly illustrated with photos and diagrams, Midkiff addresses the issues and questions most commonly raised by riders seeking to improve their performance in the saddle. Her analysis of proper position in the saddle will appeal to every rider who needs the intellectual explanation in order to feel the difference between right and wrong; moreover, Midkiff includes western riders in her discussion of saddle fit and position, which expands the universality of her theories.

The book can be purchased from HORSE COUNTY (800/882-HUNT) FOR $24.95 Review by Lauren Giannini.

The above review from HORSE COUNTY December 96/January 1996 is printed with permission.

Only one subject description does not meet the level of the other parts of the book. In the illustration on the jacket cover and the illustrations on page 116-117 show the lead line in a loop around the hand. On page 113 the statement is made that the lead line should be in large loops. If the horse suddenly pulls away, even a large loop will tighten and can catch the hand before the hand can react and release the line. The lead line should never be looped around the hand but should be held in a figure of eight with the lead line going back and across the hand. With this exception, this book contains excellent information for all female equestrians.

The book can be purchased from Howell Book House/Macmillan $24.95 Editorial note by Doris Bixby Hammett, MD.

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Book Review: The Total Rider
Tom Holmes

The Total Rider: Health and Fitness for the Equestrian, outlines an excellent equestrian physical fitness program. The information complied by the author appeared to be accurate and well researched. An extensive list of acknowledgment included eight nationally recognized equestrians, as well as professionals with advanced degrees in nutrition, psychology, physical therapy, and exercise physiology.

A large paperback test with a spiral binder, its 121 pages are full of illustrated exercises. The book has three major sections: (a) The Equestrian Workout, (b) Nutrition Strategy, and (c) The Mental Advantage.

The Equestrian Workout section addresses virtually everything you need to know to design a personal physical fitness program. It includes daily and weekly workout schedules, a muscle reference guide, as well as warm-up and aerobic exercise procedures. The author outlines over 50 exercises for the development of muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, balance, posture, and relaxation. The section also includes seat- specific exercises for forward, balanced and saddle-seat riders.

The exercises presented are easy to follow, although not always easy to do. Each well- illustrated exercise accompanies a detailed written description. The author provides beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of most of the exercises, targeting individual fitness levels. And when he says advanced, he means advanced!

You may want to develop a chart to record the number of repetitions and sets performed for each exercise during your workouts. The author simply recommends repeating the exercise until fatigued and then performing a certain number of sets. Charting your progress will not only guide you along in your daily workouts, but it will also provide a big dose of motivation.

The nutrition and sport psychology sections are refreshing to see. Colorado State University nutrition extension specialist, Jennifer Anderson, Ph.D., R.D., assisted the author with the Nutrition Strategy section. This portion of the book provides information on healthy eating habits, weight control, and nutritional tips for equestrian athletes. The Mental Advantage section highlights a mental practice program designed to reduce stress and performance anxiety. Margot Nacey, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and equestrian, developed the program.

The Total Rider: Health and Fitness for the Equestrian is available from Half Halt Press, Inc. for $24.95, plus shipping and handling. Contact Half Halt Press, Inc. at P.O. Box 67, Boonsboro, MD 21713, or call 1-800-822-9635, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

From The Equestrian Athlete, Vol. l No l. Permission from Johanna Harris, Editor.

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Safety in American Steeplechasing

In 1988 when American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) adopted standard 1163 for equestrian headgear, the National Steeplechase Association (NSA) established a safety committee to evaluate the new helmets and make recommendations in other areas of safety as well.

Initially progress was slow. The first attempt to mandate ASTM 1163 Safety Equipment Institution (SEI) certified helmets was withdrawn after complaints about fit and comfort. For the next seven years, SEI certified helmets were strongly recommended, but not required, for NSA licensed jockeys. During this period, SEI certified helmets were offered to riders free in local tack shops. About 25% of the riders adopted SEI helmets, but the majority continued to wear the British Standard Institute (BSI) 4472 helmets like their colleagues riding jump courses in England and Ireland. The old BSI 4472 standard was long known to be seriously deficient and NSA repeatedly warned riders not to wear 4472 helmets but to little avail.

The ice began to break for NSA when the British, under the leadership of Jane Davies, began to develop a new improved helmet in 1995. After much discussion - which continues - a standard was developed which was, in late 1996, formally ratified by the Europe Community (EC) member states as Euro Norm (EN) 1384. This standard was a big improvement over the old 4472 standard and will, in my opinion, become widely adopted outside the United States where SEI 1163 will continue as the accepted norm.

On 1 January 1996 the UK Jockey Club mandated the Euro standard helmet for British flat and jump jockeys. This really turned the corner for NSA; if the British riders were wearing the new improved helmet, it must be okay for American jocks.


Accordingly, the NSA Board adopted a requirement for 1997 and beyond: riders must wear either an SEI certified helmet or an EN 1384 helmet, available since January 1997as Champion's Euro Deluxe model. Both helmets are very protective and are a big improvement over the old 4472 standard most of the NSA riders used.

The next step, which I have urged on both British and American Manufacturers, is to have helmets certified to ASTM 1163 and EN 1384. This would ensure that the best features of both standards be incorporated in a helmet, would create a truly world helmet, and would guarantee the highest practical level of safety to riders. Dual certification is quite common in motor racing helmets and could easily be achieved for equestrian helmets if the manufacturers chose.

NSA, sadly, is one of the few America sanctioning bodies that requires a certified safety helmet for high performance horse sports. Neither the American Horse Show Association, the USCTA, nor any flat track, require a certified helmet. Perhaps the new EN 1384 helmets, which will become widely used in Europe, will turn the tide.

NSA's safety work continues. In 1997, NSA will acquire a set of British safety jump wings made of flexible, slip fitted plastic tubes. These wings, which are placed at either end of the jump and which prevent the horse from by passing the jump, just fly apart when a horse and rider crashes into them.

NSA also plans to test body protectors (flak jackets) made to the new, higher standard developed by the University of Tennessee. If these are accepted by our riders, they will be considered for universal use.

Finally, in 1995 NSA put in place a health insurance plan for its riders providing up to $1 million of coverage for injury while competing. There is every reason to believe that the need for this coverage will be reduced by the patient, careful adoption of safety equipment and procedures.

Langhorne Bond
Chairman, Safety Committee
1066 Fearington Post
Pittsboro, NC 27312

National Steeplechase Association
Elkton, Maryland

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