Head injury a danger for young female horse riders

Young girls aged 10 - 14 are four to five times more likely than other people to end up in hospital with injuries due to horse riding, according to a recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The study, published today in the AIHW National Injury Surveillance Units Australian Injury Prevention Bulletin (Issue 24), found that although death and injury from horse-riding is a small fraction of all death and injury cases, the injuries that did occur tended to be serious.

Broken arms and head injuries were most common. This was particularly so for young riders, and especially so for girls.

Author of the study, Dr Raymond Cripps, said that the relatively high injury rate in young girls was probably more a result of the numbers of young girls riding horses often, rather than a result of their youth or gender.

Nevertheless, no good rider would ever be complacent the chance of severe injury is always there, with head injury being potentially the most serious. This is because of the unpredictability, size and weight of the horse, combined with the height of the rider above the ground.

Approximately 20 Australians are killed as a result of horse-riding activities each year, with 3000 being admitted to hospital with horse-related injuries.

One in five of these admissions are due to head injury as a result of falling from the horse.

For those of us interested in quirky facts, the number of horse-related hospital admissions is double the number for dog bites, Dr Cripps said.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Queensland has the highest incidence of horse-related injuries and deaths in Australia. The death rate in Queensland (0.25 horse-related deaths per 100,000 population) is almost twice the national rate.
  • More than one-third of hospital cases involving horse-related injuries occurred in capital cities and suburbs, with the highest number in New South Wales (403 cases).
  • Women aged over 34 years were less likely to have a horse-related accident than their male counterparts.


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