Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?
Previous Article in Journal
Dogs on the Move: Factors Impacting Animal Shelter and Rescue Organizations’ Decisions to Accept Dogs from Distant Locations
Previous Article in Special Issue
Health Problems and Risk Factors Associated with Long Haul Transport of Horses in Australia
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Animals 2016, 6(2), 12;

Improving the Understanding of Psychological Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accident and Injury: Context, Loss of Focus, Cognitive Errors and Rigidity

Faculty of Health, Department of Psychology, Federation University, University Drive, Mount Helen, Victoria 3350, Australia
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Room 435, F09, Madsen Building, New South Wales 2006, Australia
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Room 206, R.M.C. Gunn Building, New South Wales 2006, Australia
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kirrilly Thompson
Received: 29 October 2015 / Revised: 14 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 15 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
Full-Text   |   PDF [194 KB, uploaded 15 February 2016]

Simple Summary

There is a high risk of injury for people involved with horses in their work or recreational pursuits. High risks are particularly evident for racing employees and veterinarians. Elevated risks of injury may be associated with misjudging how to handle situations, reduced attention caused by distractions, taking a general view, and failing to consider other strategies that may reduce risks. To improve safety for humans and horses, it is important to identify safety strategies that are flexible, focused and specific.


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: human–horse risk; context-specificity; attention; cognitive error; self-reference human–horse risk; context-specificity; attention; cognitive error; self-reference
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

DeAraugo, J.; McLaren, S.; McManus, P.; McGreevy, P.D. Improving the Understanding of Psychological Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accident and Injury: Context, Loss of Focus, Cognitive Errors and Rigidity. Animals 2016, 6, 12.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top