Special Issue "Horses and Risk"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Kirrilly Thompson

Associate Professor, The Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: human-animal relations; animal studies; risk perception; risk mitigation; risk management; equine anthrozoology; safety; culture; horses; behavior change; natural disasters and emergencies; ethnography; mixed-methods research; Spain; bullfighting

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human-horse relations are rare amongst human-animal relations for many reasons. Some reasons are taken for granted, such as the fact that horses are one of the few species that humans ride. Other factors distinguishing human-horse interactions are better recognised, namely the risk of serious injury or death to riders, drivers and handlers. Horses can weigh more than 600 kilos and reach speeds around 60 km/h. They bite, kick, buck, rear, leap, trample, crush, trip and fall. As herd animals, they are mutually reactive. As plains dwellers, they can become aggressive in confined spaces. As prey, they refuse to trade their flight instinct for domestication. Even the most trained horse is never fully predictable. Whilst these risks are tolerated, accepted and even sought by some equestrians they can be managed or reduced. However, risk calculation is required to identify areas of greater or lesser risk and to evaluate social and technical risk-reduction strategies. This issue answers recent calls for research into the risks of human-horse interactions by considering risk calculation, analysis, assessment, perception, reduction and mitigation.

Contributions are invited that consider risk from a variety of origins, including but not limited to:

  1. Horse-related risks to humans (e.g., zoonoses such as Hendra virus, kicks and falls, occupational risks, contamination of horse meat destined for human consumption);
  2. Human-related risks to horses (e.g., the deaths of two horses at the 2014 Melbourne Cup, wastage in the racing industry, traditional husbandry practices that conflict with horse ethology, climate change, the medical use of horses for food or hormone production);
  3. Interspecies risk generated in the human-horse relation (e.g., horse owners failing to evacuate properties under fire threat, difficulty of matching horses and riders according to skill and training).

Dr. Kirrilly Thompson
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • horse
  • rider
  • handler
  • driver
  • risk
  • safety
  • injury
  • accident
  • death
  • management
  • mitigation
  • calculation
  • behaviour change

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review, Other

Open AccessArticle Analysis of Failure to Finish a Race in a Cohort of Thoroughbred Racehorses in New Zealand
Animals 2016, 6(6), 36; doi:10.3390/ani6060036
Received: 11 January 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2016 / Accepted: 23 May 2016 / Published: 25 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (422 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective was to describe the incidence of failure to finish a race in flat-racing Thoroughbreds in New Zealand as these are summary indicators of falls, injuries and poor performance. Retrospective data on six complete flat racing seasons (n = 188,615 race starts)
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The objective was to describe the incidence of failure to finish a race in flat-racing Thoroughbreds in New Zealand as these are summary indicators of falls, injuries and poor performance. Retrospective data on six complete flat racing seasons (n = 188,615 race starts) of all Thoroughbred flat race starts from 1 August 2005 to 31 July 2011 were obtained. The incidence of failure to finish events and binomial exact 95% confidence intervals were calculated per 1000 horse starts. The association between horse-, rider- and race-level variables with the outcomes failure to finish, pulled-up/fell and lost rider were examined with a mixed effects Poisson regression model. A total of 544 horses failed to finish in 188,615 race starts with an overall incidence of 2.88 per 1000 horse starts (95% CI 2.64–3.12). The incidence of failure to finish horses across each race year showed little variability. In the univariable analysis race distance, larger field size, season, and ratings bands showed association with failing to finish a race. The overall failure to finish outcome was associated with season, race distance and ratings bands (horse experience and success ranking criteria). In the multivariable analysis, race distance and ratings bands were associated with horses that pulled-up/fell; season, apprentice allowances and ratings bands were associated with the outcome lost rider. The failure to finish rate was lower than international figures for race day catastrophic injury. Racing and environmental variables were associated with failure to finish a race highlighting the multifactorial nature of race-day events. Further investigation of risk factors for failure to finish is required to better understand the reasons for a low failure to finish rate in Thoroughbred flat races in New Zealand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Preventing and Investigating Horse-Related Human Injury and Fatality in Work and Non-Work Equestrian Environments: A Consideration of the Workplace Health and Safety Framework
Animals 2016, 6(5), 33; doi:10.3390/ani6050033
Received: 18 November 2015 / Revised: 26 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
PDF Full-text (231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It has been suggested that one in five riders will be injured due to a fall from a horse, resulting in severe head or torso injuries. Attempts to reduce injury have primarily focussed on low level risk controls, such as helmets. In comparison,
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It has been suggested that one in five riders will be injured due to a fall from a horse, resulting in severe head or torso injuries. Attempts to reduce injury have primarily focussed on low level risk controls, such as helmets. In comparison, risk mitigation in high risk workplaces and sports is directed at more effective and preventative controls like training, consultation, safe work procedures, fit for purpose equipment and regular Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) monitoring. However, there has been no systematic consideration of the risk-reduction benefits of applying a WHS framework to reducing horse-related risks in workplaces, let alone competition or leisure contexts. In this article, we discuss the different dimensions of risk during human–horse interaction: the risk itself, animal, human and environmental factors and their combinations thereof. We consider the potential of the WHS framework as a tool for reducing (a) situation-specific hazards, and (b) the risks inherent in and arising from human–horse interactions. Whilst most—if not all—horses are unpredictable, the majority of horse-related injuries should be treated as preventable. The article concludes with a practical application of WHS to prevent horse-related injury by discussing effective evidence-based guidelines and regulatory monitoring for equestrian sectors. It suggests that the WHS framework has significant potential not only to reduce the occurrence and likelihood of horse-related human accident and injury, but to enable systematic accident analysis and investigation of horse-related adverse events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle The Management of Horses during Fireworks in New Zealand
Animals 2016, 6(3), 20; doi:10.3390/ani6030020
Received: 5 January 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2016 / Accepted: 23 February 2016 / Published: 9 March 2016
PDF Full-text (474 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Within popular press there has been much coverage of the negative effects associated with firework and horses. The effect of fireworks has been documented in companion animals, yet no studies have investigated the negative effects, or otherwise, of fireworks on horses. This study
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Within popular press there has been much coverage of the negative effects associated with firework and horses. The effect of fireworks has been documented in companion animals, yet no studies have investigated the negative effects, or otherwise, of fireworks on horses. This study aims to document horse responses and current management strategies to fireworks via an online survey. Of the total number of horses, 39% (1987/4765) were rated as “anxious”, 40% (1816/4765) “very anxious” and only 21% (965/4765) rated as “not anxious” around fireworks. Running (82%, 912/1107) was the most common behaviour reported, with no difference between property type (p > 0.05) or location (p > 0.05). Possibly as a consequence of the high frequency of running, 35% (384/1107) of respondents reported having horses break through fences in response to fireworks and a quarter (26%, 289/1099) reported that their horse(s) had received injuries associated with fireworks. The most common management strategy was moving their horse(s) to a paddock away from the fireworks (77%) and to stable/yard them (55%). However, approximately 30% reported these management strategies to be ineffective. Of the survey participants, 90% (996/1104) were against the sale of fireworks for private use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Factors Influencing the Safety Behavior of German Equestrians: Attitudes towards Protective Equipment and Peer Behaviors
Animals 2016, 6(2), 14; doi:10.3390/ani6020014
Received: 30 October 2015 / Revised: 21 January 2016 / Accepted: 3 February 2016 / Published: 18 February 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Human interactions with horses entail certain risks. Although the acceptance and use of protective gear is increasing, a high number of incidents and very low or inconsistent voluntary use of safety equipment are reported. While past studies have examined factors influencing the use
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Human interactions with horses entail certain risks. Although the acceptance and use of protective gear is increasing, a high number of incidents and very low or inconsistent voluntary use of safety equipment are reported. While past studies have examined factors influencing the use of safety gear, they have explored neither their influence on the overall safety behavior, nor their relative influence in relation to each other. The aim of the present study is to fill this gap. We conducted an online survey with 2572 participants. By means of a subsequent multiple regression analysis, we explored 23 different variables in view of their influence on the protective behavior of equestrians. In total, we found 17 variables that exerted a significant influence. The results show that both having positive or negative attitudes towards safety products as well as the protective behavior of other horse owners or riding pupils from the stable have the strongest influence on the safety behavior of German equestrians. We consider such knowledge to be important for both scientists and practitioners, such as producers of protective gear or horse sport associations who might alter safety behavior in such a way that the number of horse-related injuries decreases in the long term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?
Animals 2016, 6(2), 13; doi:10.3390/ani6020013
Received: 27 October 2015 / Revised: 8 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 16 February 2016
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Abstract
All horse-riding is risky. In competitive horse sports, eventing is considered the riskiest, and is often characterised as very dangerous. But based on what data? There has been considerable research on the risks and unwanted outcomes of horse-riding in general, and on particular
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All horse-riding is risky. In competitive horse sports, eventing is considered the riskiest, and is often characterised as very dangerous. But based on what data? There has been considerable research on the risks and unwanted outcomes of horse-riding in general, and on particular subsets of horse-riding such as eventing. However, there can be problems in accessing accurate, comprehensive and comparable data on such outcomes, and in using different calculation methods which cannot compare like with like. This paper critically examines a number of risk calculation methods used in estimating risk for riders in eventing, including one method which calculates risk based on hours spent in the activity and in one case concludes that eventing is more dangerous than motorcycle racing. This paper argues that the primary locus of risk for both riders and horses is the jump itself, and the action of the horse jumping. The paper proposes that risk calculation in eventing should therefore concentrate primarily on this locus, and suggests that eventing is unlikely to be more dangerous than motorcycle racing. The paper proposes avenues for further research to reduce the likelihood and consequences of rider and horse falls at jumps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Health Problems and Risk Factors Associated with Long Haul Transport of Horses in Australia
Animals 2015, 5(4), 1296-1310; doi:10.3390/ani5040412
Received: 2 November 2015 / Revised: 3 December 2015 / Accepted: 3 December 2015 / Published: 10 December 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (693 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Equine transportation is associated with a variety of serious health disorders causing economic losses. However; statistics on horse transport are limited and epidemiological data on transport related diseases are available only for horses transported to abattoirs for slaughter. This study analysed reports of
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Equine transportation is associated with a variety of serious health disorders causing economic losses. However; statistics on horse transport are limited and epidemiological data on transport related diseases are available only for horses transported to abattoirs for slaughter. This study analysed reports of transport related health problems identified by drivers and horse owners for 180 journeys of an Australian horse transport company transporting horses between Perth and Sydney (~4000 km) in 2013–2015. Records showed that 97.2% (1604/1650) of the horses arrived at their destination with no clinical signs of disease or injury. Based on the veterinary reports of the affected horses; the most common issues were respiratory problems (27%); gastrointestinal problems (27%); pyrexia (19%); traumatic injuries (15%); and death (12%). Journey duration and season had a significant effect on the distribution of transport related issues ( p < 0.05); with a marked increase of the proportion of the most severe problems ( i.e. , gastrointestinal; respiratory problems and death) in spring and after 20 h in transit. Although not statistically significant; elevated disease rate predictions were seen for stallions/colts; horses aged over 10 years; and Thoroughbreds. Overall; the data demonstrate that long haul transportation is a risk for horse health and welfare and requires appropriate management to minimize transport stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Development of a Safety Management Web Tool for Horse Stables
Animals 2015, 5(4), 1136-1146; doi:10.3390/ani5040402
Received: 17 August 2015 / Revised: 28 October 2015 / Accepted: 4 November 2015 / Published: 12 November 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (760 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Managing a horse stable involves risks, which can have serious consequences for the stable, employees, clients, visitors and horses. Existing industrial or farm production risk management tools are not directly applicable to horse stables and they need to be adapted for use by
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Managing a horse stable involves risks, which can have serious consequences for the stable, employees, clients, visitors and horses. Existing industrial or farm production risk management tools are not directly applicable to horse stables and they need to be adapted for use by managers of different types of stables. As a part of the InnoEquine project, an innovative web tool, InnoHorse, was developed to support horse stable managers in business, safety, pasture and manure management. A literature review, empirical horse stable case studies, expert panel workshops and stakeholder interviews were carried out to support the design. The InnoHorse web tool includes a safety section containing a horse stable safety map, stable safety checklists, and examples of good practices in stable safety, horse handling and rescue planning. This new horse stable safety management tool can also help in organizing work processes in horse stables in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Jump Horse Safety: Reconciling Public Debate and Australian Thoroughbred Jump Racing Data, 2012–2014
Animals 2015, 5(4), 1072-1091; doi:10.3390/ani5040399
Received: 17 August 2015 / Revised: 13 October 2015 / Accepted: 16 October 2015 / Published: 22 October 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (852 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Thoroughbred jump racing sits in the spotlight of contemporary welfare and ethical debates about horse racing. In Australia, jump racing comprises hurdle and steeplechase races and has ceased in all but two states, Victoria and South Australia. This paper documents the size, geography,
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Thoroughbred jump racing sits in the spotlight of contemporary welfare and ethical debates about horse racing. In Australia, jump racing comprises hurdle and steeplechase races and has ceased in all but two states, Victoria and South Australia. This paper documents the size, geography, composition, and dynamics of Australian jump racing for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons with a focus on debate about risks to horses. We found that the majority of Australian jump racing is regional, based in Victoria, and involves a small group of experienced trainers and jockeys. Australian jump horses are on average 6.4 years of age. The jump career of the majority of horses involves participating in three or less hurdle races and over one season. Almost one quarter of Australian jump horses race only once. There were ten horse fatalities in races over the study period, with an overall fatality rate of 5.1 fatalities per 1000 horses starting in a jump race (0.51%). There was significant disparity between the fatality rate for hurdles, 0.75 fatalities per 1000 starts (0.075%) and steeplechases, 14 fatalities per 1000 starts (1.4%). Safety initiatives introduced by regulators in 2010 appear to have significantly decreased risks to horses in hurdles but have had little or no effect in steeplechases. Our discussion considers these Animals 2015, 5 1073 data in light of public controversy, political debate, and industry regulation related to jump horse safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Reducing Respiratory Health Risks to Horses and Workers: A Comparison of Two Stall Bedding Materials
Animals 2015, 5(4), 965-977; doi:10.3390/ani5040394
Received: 14 July 2015 / Revised: 28 September 2015 / Accepted: 29 September 2015 / Published: 8 October 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (118 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Stable air quality and the choice of bedding material are an important health issue both in horses and people working or visiting horse stables. Risks of impaired respiratory health are those that can especially be avoided by improving air quality in the stable.
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Stable air quality and the choice of bedding material are an important health issue both in horses and people working or visiting horse stables. Risks of impaired respiratory health are those that can especially be avoided by improving air quality in the stable. The choice of bedding material is particularly important in cold climate conditions; where horses are kept most of the day and year indoors throughout their life. This study examined the effect of two bedding materials; wood shavings and peat; on stable air quality and health of horses. Ammonia and dust levels were also measured to assess conditions in the stable. Ammonia was not detected or was at very low levels (<0.25 ppm) in the boxes in which peat was used as bedding; but its concentration was clearly higher (1.5–7.0 ppm) in stalls with wood shavings as bedding. Personal measurements of workers revealed quite high ammonia exposure (5.9 ppm8h) in the boxes in which wood shavings were used; but no exposure was Animals 2015, 5 966 observed in stalls bedded with peat. The respiratory symptoms in horses increased regardless of the bedding material at the beginning of the study. The health status of the horses in the peat bedding group returned to the initial level in the end of the trial but horses bedded with wood shavings continued to be symptomatic. The hooves of the horses with peat bedding had a better moisture content than those of the horses bedded with wood shavings. The results suggest that peat is a better bedding material for horses than wood shavings regarding the health of both horses and stable workers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle A Cross-Sectional Study of Horse-Related Injuries in Veterinary and Animal Science Students at an Australian University
Animals 2015, 5(4), 951-964; doi:10.3390/ani5040392
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 15 September 2015 / Accepted: 18 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Specific estimates of the risk of horse-related injury (HRI) to university students enrolled in veterinary and animal sciences have not been reported. This study aimed to determine the risk of student HRI during their university education, the nature and management of such injuries.
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Specific estimates of the risk of horse-related injury (HRI) to university students enrolled in veterinary and animal sciences have not been reported. This study aimed to determine the risk of student HRI during their university education, the nature and management of such injuries. A retrospective questionnaire solicited demographic information, data on students’ equine experience prior to and during their educational programs, and on HRI during their program of study. Of 260 respondents, 22 (8.5%) reported HRI (27 incidents). Including concurrent injuries the most commonly injured body parts were the foot or ankle (nine of 32 injures), the upper leg or knee (eight of 32), and hands (three of 32). Trampling and being kicked by a hind limb were each associated with 30.4% of HRI, and 13% with being bitten. Bruising (91.3% of respondents) and an open wound (17.4%) were most commonly described. No treatment occurred for 60.9% of incidents; professional medical treatment was not sought for the remainder. Most incidents (56.5%) occurred during program-related work experience placements. Although injury rates and severity were modest, a proactive approach to injury prevention and reporting is recommended for students required to handle horses as part of their education. Student accident and injury data should be monitored to ensure effective evaluation of risk-reduction initiatives. The risk and nature of university student horse-related injury (HRI) was studied. Of 260 students, 22 (8.5%) reported HRI (27 incidents). Including multiple injuries, reports described involvement of the foot or ankle (nine of 32 injures), upper leg or knee (eight of 32), and hands (three of 32). Trampling (30.4%) and being kicked (30.4%) accounted for most HRI. The injuries were usually bruising (91.3%) or an open wound (17.4%). Most (60.9%) injuries were untreated; professional medical treatment was not sought for the rest. Most incidents (56.5%) occurred during program-related off-campus work experiences. A proactive approach to injury prevention is recommended for students handling horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Workplace Injuries in Thoroughbred Racing: An Analysis of Insurance Payments and Injuries amongst Jockeys in Australia from 2002 to 2010
Animals 2015, 5(3), 897-909; doi:10.3390/ani5030390
Received: 2 June 2015 / Accepted: 28 August 2015 / Published: 8 September 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (272 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: There is no comprehensive study of the costs of horse-related workplace injuries to Australian Thoroughbred racing jockeys. Objectives: To analyse the characteristics of insurance payments and horse-related workplace injuries to Australian jockeys during Thoroughbred racing or training. Methods: Insurance
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Background: There is no comprehensive study of the costs of horse-related workplace injuries to Australian Thoroughbred racing jockeys. Objectives: To analyse the characteristics of insurance payments and horse-related workplace injuries to Australian jockeys during Thoroughbred racing or training. Methods: Insurance payments to Australian jockeys and apprentice jockeys as a result of claims for injury were reviewed. The cause and nature of injuries, and the breakdown of payments associated with claims were described. Results: The incidence of claims was 2.1/1000 race rides, with an average cost of AUD 9 million/year. Race-day incidents were associated with 39% of claims, but 52% of the total cost. The mean cost of race-day incidents (AUD 33,756) was higher than non-race day incidents (AUD 20,338). Weekly benefits and medical expenses made up the majority of costs of claims. Fractures were the most common injury (29.5%), but head injuries resulting from a fall from a horse had the highest mean cost/claim (AUD 127,127). Conclusions: Costs of workplace injuries to the Australian Thoroughbred racing industry have been greatly underestimated because the focus has historically been on incidents that occur on race-days. These findings add to the evidence base for developing strategies to reduce injuries and their associated costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Inroads into Equestrian Safety: Rider-Reported Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accidents and Near Misses on Australian Roads
Animals 2015, 5(3), 592-609; doi:10.3390/ani5030374
Received: 21 April 2015 / Revised: 2 June 2015 / Accepted: 3 June 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (252 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Horse riding and horse-related interactions are inherently dangerous. When they occur on public roads, the risk profile of equestrian activities is complicated by interactions with other road users. Research has identified speed, proximity, visibility, conspicuity and mutual misunderstanding as factors contributing to accidents
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Horse riding and horse-related interactions are inherently dangerous. When they occur on public roads, the risk profile of equestrian activities is complicated by interactions with other road users. Research has identified speed, proximity, visibility, conspicuity and mutual misunderstanding as factors contributing to accidents and near misses. However, little is known about their significance or incidence in Australia. To explore road safety issues amongst Australian equestrians, we conducted an online survey. More than half of all riders (52%) reported having experienced at least one accident or near miss in the 12 months prior to the survey. Whilst our findings confirm the factors identified overseas, we also identified issues around rider misunderstanding of road rules and driver misunderstanding of rider hand signals. Of particular concern, we also found reports of potentially dangerous rider-directed road rage. We identify several areas for potential safety intervention including (1) identifying equestrians as vulnerable road users and horses as sentient decision-making vehicles (2) harmonising laws regarding passing horses, (3) mandating personal protective equipment, (4) improving road signage, (5) comprehensive data collection, (6) developing mutual understanding amongst road-users, (7) safer road design and alternative riding spaces; and (8) increasing investment in horse-related safety initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle Helmet Use Amongst Equestrians: Harnessing Social and Attitudinal Factors Revealed in Online Forums
Animals 2015, 5(3), 576-591; doi:10.3390/ani5030373
Received: 20 March 2015 / Revised: 23 June 2015 / Accepted: 6 July 2015 / Published: 17 July 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Equestrian activities pose significant head injury risks to participants. Yet, helmet use is not mandatory in Australia outside of selected competitions. Awareness of technical countermeasures and the dangers of equestrian activities has not resulted in widespread adoption of simple precautionary behaviors like helmet
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Equestrian activities pose significant head injury risks to participants. Yet, helmet use is not mandatory in Australia outside of selected competitions. Awareness of technical countermeasures and the dangers of equestrian activities has not resulted in widespread adoption of simple precautionary behaviors like helmet use. Until the use of helmets whilst riding horses is legislated in Australia, there is an urgent need to improve voluntary use. To design effective injury prevention interventions, the factors affecting helmet use must first be understood. To add to current understandings of these factors, we examined the ways horse riders discussed helmet use by analyzing 103 posts on two helmet use related threads from two different Australian equestrian forums. We found evidence of social influence on helmet use behaviors as well as three attitudes that contributed towards stated helmet use that we termed: “I Can Control Risk”, “It Does Not Feel Right” and “Accidents Happen”. Whilst we confirm barriers identified in previous literature, we also identify their ability to support helmet use. This suggests challenging but potentially useful complexity in the relationship between risk perception, protective knowledge, attitudes, decision-making and behavior. Whilst this complexity is largely due to the involvement of interspecies relationships through which safety, risk and trust are distributed; our findings about harnessing the potential of barriers could be extended to other high risk activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessArticle A Critical Review of Horse-Related Risk: A Research Agenda for Safer Mounts, Riders and Equestrian Cultures
Animals 2015, 5(3), 561-575; doi:10.3390/ani5030372
Received: 24 June 2015 / Revised: 3 July 2015 / Accepted: 7 July 2015 / Published: 17 July 2015
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (152 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While the importance of improving horse-related safety seems self-evident, no comprehensive study into understanding or reducing horse-related risk has been undertaken. In this paper, we discuss four dimensions of horse-related risk: the risk itself, the horse, the rider and the culture in which
[...] Read more.
While the importance of improving horse-related safety seems self-evident, no comprehensive study into understanding or reducing horse-related risk has been undertaken. In this paper, we discuss four dimensions of horse-related risk: the risk itself, the horse, the rider and the culture in which equestrian activities takes place. We identify how the ways in which risk is constructed in each dimension affects the applicability of four basic risk management options of avoidance, transference, mitigation and acceptance. We find the acceptance and avoidance of horse-related risk is generally high, most likely due to a common construction of horses as irrevocably unpredictable, fearful and dangerous. The transference of risk management is also high, especially in the use of protective technologies such as helmets. Of concern, the strategy least utilised is risk mitigation. We highlight the potential benefit in developing mitigation strategies directed at: (a) improving the predictability of horses (to and by humans), and (b) improving riders’ competence in the physical skills that make them more resilient to injury and falls. We conclude with the presentation of a multidisciplinary agenda for research that could reduce accident, injury and death to horse-riders around the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessReview The Contribution of Equitation Science to Minimising Horse-Related Risks to Humans
Animals 2016, 6(3), 15; doi:10.3390/ani6030015
Received: 28 October 2015 / Revised: 8 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 23 February 2016
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (225 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Equitation science is an evidence-based approach to horse training and riding that focuses on a thorough understanding of both equine ethology and learning theory. This combination leads to more effective horse training, but also plays a role in keeping horse riders and trainers
[...] Read more.
Equitation science is an evidence-based approach to horse training and riding that focuses on a thorough understanding of both equine ethology and learning theory. This combination leads to more effective horse training, but also plays a role in keeping horse riders and trainers safe around horses. Equitation science underpins ethical equitation, and recognises the limits of the horse’s cognitive and physical abilities. Equitation is an ancient practice that has benefited from a rich tradition that sees it flourishing in contemporary sporting pursuits. Despite its history, horse-riding is an activity for which neither horses nor humans evolved, and it brings with it significant risks to the safety of both species. This review outlines the reasons horses may behave in ways that endanger humans and how training choices can exacerbate this. It then discusses the recently introduced 10 Principles of Equitation Science and explains how following these principles can minimise horse-related risk to humans and enhance horse welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Open AccessReview Improving the Understanding of Psychological Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accident and Injury: Context, Loss of Focus, Cognitive Errors and Rigidity
Animals 2016, 6(2), 12; doi:10.3390/ani6020012
Received: 29 October 2015 / Revised: 14 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 15 February 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While the role of the horse in riding hazards is well recognised, little attention has been paid to the role of specific theoretical psychological processes of humans in contributing to and mitigating risk. The injury, mortality or compensation claim rates for participants in
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While the role of the horse in riding hazards is well recognised, little attention has been paid to the role of specific theoretical psychological processes of humans in contributing to and mitigating risk. The injury, mortality or compensation claim rates for participants in the horse-racing industry, veterinary medicine and equestrian disciplines provide compelling evidence for improving risk mitigation models. There is a paucity of theoretical principles regarding the risk of injury and mortality associated with human–horse interactions. In this paper we introduce and apply the four psychological principles of context, loss of focus, global cognitive style and the application of self as the frame of reference as a potential approach for assessing and managing human–horse risks. When these principles produce errors that are combined with a rigid self-referenced point, it becomes clear how rapidly risk emerges and how other people and animals may repeatedly become at risk over time. Here, with a focus on the thoroughbred racing industry, veterinary practice and equestrian disciplines, we review the merits of contextually applied strategies, an evolving reappraisal of risk, flexibility, and focused specifics of situations that may serve to modify human behaviour and mitigate risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)

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Open AccessDiscussion Reconciling Horse Welfare, Worker Safety, and Public Expectations: Horse Event Incident Management Systems in Australia
Animals 2016, 6(3), 16; doi:10.3390/ani6030016
Received: 4 November 2015 / Revised: 6 February 2016 / Accepted: 16 February 2016 / Published: 24 February 2016
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Abstract
Human-horse interactions have a rich tradition and can be highly rewarding, particularly within sport and recreation pursuits, but they can also be dangerous or even life-threatening. In parallel, sport and recreation pursuits involving animals, including horses, are facing an increased level of public
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Human-horse interactions have a rich tradition and can be highly rewarding, particularly within sport and recreation pursuits, but they can also be dangerous or even life-threatening. In parallel, sport and recreation pursuits involving animals, including horses, are facing an increased level of public scrutiny in relation to the use of animals for these purposes. However, the challenge lies with event organisers to reconcile the expectations of the public, the need to meet legal requirements to reduce or eliminate risks to paid and volunteer workers, and address horse welfare. In this article we explore incident management at horse events as an example of a situation where volunteers and horses can be placed at risk during a rescue. We introduce large animal rescue skills as a solution to improving worker safety and improving horse welfare outcomes. Whilst there are government and horse industry initiatives to improve safety and address animal welfare, there remains a pressing need to invest in a strong communication plan which will improve the safety of workplaces in which humans and horses interact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
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