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Article

What People Really Think About Safety around Horses: The Relationship between Risk Perception, Values and Safety Behaviours

1
The Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia
2
Safety in Focus, PO Box 711, Narrabri, NSW 2390, Australia
3
UniSA Business, University of South Australia, 101 Currie Street, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2222; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122222
Received: 30 October 2020 / Revised: 23 November 2020 / Accepted: 23 November 2020 / Published: 26 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
Equestrians continue to debate what they think, believe, feel and value as superior safety-first principles during human–horse interactions. Some of these varying opinions about how dangerous horses really are; the risk and what actions should be taken to minimise risk, appear to be determined by many different factors. This paper explored what humans say about safety around horses and identified what they perceived as important or less important to stay safe. We examined what elements influence human risk perceptions and behaviours (both positive and negative) during human–horse interactions. Some human safety choices were influenced by financial gain, level of experience, exposure to safety training and disregard for potential human injury as a deterrent for any safety change behavior. A significant percentage of participants accepted risk of human harm around horses with some choosing to take risks for sport achievements and others willing to place their horse’s safety above their own. This paper highlights benefits for the equestrian industry (work or non-work environments) in adopting some safety-first principles and standards, adopted by many high-risk workplaces such as safety training, risk assessment (horse-rider), improved communications and adequate supervision. Moreover, if the equestrian industry chose to implement these tried-and-tested safety principles, this would assist in mitigating risk and potentially reduce human horse-related injury and fatalities.
The equestrian industry reports high rates of serious injuries, illness and fatalities when compared to other high-risk sports and work environments. To address these ongoing safety concerns, a greater understanding of the relationship between human risk perception, values and safety behaviours is required. This paper presents results from an international survey that explored relationships between a respondents’ willingness to take risk during daily activities along with, their perceptions of risk and behaviours during horse-related interactions. Respondents’ comments around risk management principles and safety-first inspirations were also analysed. We examined what humans think about hazardous situations or activities and how they managed risk with suitable controls. Analysis identified three important findings. First, safe behaviours around horses were associated with safety training (formal and/or informal). Second, unsafe behaviours around horses were associated with higher levels of equestrian experience as well as income from horse-related work. Finally, findings revealed a general acceptance of danger and imminent injury during horse interactions. This may explain why some respondents de-emphasised or ‘talked-down’ the importance of safety-first principles. In this paper we predominantly reported quantitative findings of respondents self-reported safety behaviours, general and horse-related risk perceptions despite injury or illness. We discussed the benefits of improved safety-first principles like training, risk assessments, rider-horse match with enriched safety communications to enhance risk-mitigation during human–horse interactions. View Full-Text
Keywords: horses; risk; perception; safety; human–horse interaction; equestrian training-coaching; WHS horses; risk; perception; safety; human–horse interaction; equestrian training-coaching; WHS
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chapman, M.; Thomas, M.; Thompson, K. What People Really Think About Safety around Horses: The Relationship between Risk Perception, Values and Safety Behaviours. Animals 2020, 10, 2222. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122222

AMA Style

Chapman M, Thomas M, Thompson K. What People Really Think About Safety around Horses: The Relationship between Risk Perception, Values and Safety Behaviours. Animals. 2020; 10(12):2222. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122222

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chapman, Meredith, Matthew Thomas, and Kirrilly Thompson. 2020. "What People Really Think About Safety around Horses: The Relationship between Risk Perception, Values and Safety Behaviours" Animals 10, no. 12: 2222. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122222

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