Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?
A fundamental conclusion which pervades every detailed recommendation is that everything should be done to prevent horses falling: this single objective should greatly reduce the chances of riders being seriously injured, as well as significantly improving the safety of competing horses.(p. 2)
2. Defining Risk in Human—Horse Interactions
2.1. Data on Human—Horse Interactions
- horse-related injuries in general without specifying a particular equestrian sport, using data from sources such as those outlined above: hospital separations data, injury surveillance programs, coronial data, trauma registries and emergency department data collections [7,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43];
- measurement of the incidence of specific horse-related injuries such as spinal injury or maxillofacial injuries, again using sources such as coronial data, hospital separations data, trauma registries, and emergency department data collections, but not focusing on a specific equestrian sport [16,45]; and
2.2. Challenges for the Researcher
2.2.1. Data Keeping
2.2.2. Data Capture
2.2.3. Non-Nuanced Research
3. Defining Risk in the Sport of Eventing
3.1. Data on Eventing and Injury
3.2. Challenges for the Researcher
4. Quantifying Risk in the Sport of Eventing
- Establishing surveillance and monitoring projects, assuming that more universal capture of data on participants engaged in the actual sport, with details of their actual experience, will provide an opportunity for more fine-grained analysis. Such projects can generate information on a number of factors, including demographic data, situational data, information about the horse/rider combination, and factors contributing to the fall, and usually involve on-ground data collection followed up by questionnaires or surveys [14,21]. This process can generate both fall and injury incidence rates.
4.1. Fall Incidence Rate
4.2. Injury Incidence Rate
4.3. Surveillance and Monitoring Projects
4.4. Calculating Injury Rate against Time Spent “in the Saddle”
(2005–2014) n = 152,821
|O’Brien and Cripps |
(2002–2006) n = 58,557
(1990–1998) n = 4220
|Ekberg et al.  (2007) n = 357|
|Fall rate per number of starters||1/18 starters||1/34 starters||Not reported||Not reported|
|Injury rate per number of starters||Slight injury: 1/229|
Serious injury: 1/506
|Overall rate: 1/156|
Serious injury: not reported
Fatal injury: not reported
|Not reported||Not reported|
|Injury incidence per starter||Slight and serious injury: 0.65%|
|Overall rate: 0.63%|
Serious and fatal: Not reported
|Overall rate: 0.88%|
Serious injury: 0.28%
Fatal: not reported
|Injury rate per eventing hour||Not reported||Not reported||1/14 eventing hours overall, 1/5.5 eventing hours “at the highest level“ of competition||0.54 injury events/1,000 eventing hours (novice riders)|
0.35 injury events/1,000 eventing hours (qualified riders)
|Fall rate per number of jumping efforts||Not reported||1.2 falls/1,000 jumping efforts||Not reported||Not reported|
|Injury rate per number of jumping efforts||Serious injury: 1/15,687 jumping efforts||Overall: 0.2/1,000 jumping efforts||Not reported||Not reported|
5. Where Is the Locus of Risk?
- away from an obstacle (that is, “on the flat”): the horse slips and falls and the rider continues onwards or sideways, or—rarely—lands under the falling horse;
- the horse refuses to jump, stopping in front of the obstacle, and the rider continues onwards or sideways;
- the horse attempts to clear the jump but hits it, the horse’s forward momentum ceases abruptly and the rider again continues onwards;
- the horse fails to negotiate the jump successfully and the rider is caught up in the ensuing chaos;
- the horse stumbles or falls on landing after jumping, and the rider again continues onwards or is trapped underneath the fallen horse; or
- the horse hits the jump with its chest or front legs, having failed to clear the jump, and its forward momentum carries its body onwards and forwards as it somersaults over the jump. The rider, propelled ahead of the horse’s momentum, lands in in the vicinity of the place where the horse is itself going to land shortly thereafter.
Conflicts of Interest
|Date||Name||Age||M/F||Location||Injury Mechanism||Level||Rotational Horse Fall||Circumstances||Fence #and Type|
|29/05/1993||Richard Adams||23||M||England (Windsor)||Fall||NAT Advanced 3DE||Yes||Horse hit fence then landed on rider (source: internet)||#14 table|
|5/06/1993||Malcolm Munro-Kerr||42||M||England (Lowesby)||Hit head on ground||NAT Preliminary||Not reported||Fell. No other information (source: internet)||#19 third element, post and rails|
|6/06/1993||Verna Hiltebeitel||24||F||USA (Douglassville)||Crush||Not reported||Yes||Horse somersaulted, landed on rider (source: Bruce Paix (BP), internet)||Not reported|
|16/06/1993||Mark Holliday||23||M||England (Hexham)||Crush||Not reported||Yes||Horse somersaulted, landed on rider (source: internet)||Not reported|
|18/08/1993||Vanessa Weaver||40||F||England (Tythrop)||Crush||Not reported||Yes||Horse's legs became entangled in rails, rider fell, horse somersaulted, landed on rider (source: internet)||Sloping rails|
|3/10/1993||Karen Smart||28||F||England (Asgarsby)||Crush||Pony Club Hunter Trials||Yes||Horse refused at jump, somersaulted over on top of rider, landed on top of her (source: internet).||#15 Upright of telegraph poles|
|22/04/1996||Natalie Dunlop||14||F||Australia (Penola)||Head vs. tree||NAT|
|No||Horse bolted, rider thrown at high speed into tree (Source: BP; internet)||Not reported. Possibly not fence related|
|18/05/1997||Anna Savage||36||F||Australia (Naracoorte)||Blunt trauma||NAT Open I/M||No||Horse stumbled in ditch, not fence-related (“near end of course”). (Source: BP; personal information)||Not fence related, near end of course|
|6/09/1997||Sam Moore||35||M||England (Blenheim)||Crush||FEI CCI ***||Yes||Horse lacking energy. Horse hit fence (keyhole), rider catapulted, horse somersaulted, landed on rider's chest (source: internet)||#19 keyhole|
|20/09/1997||Amanda Warrington||29||F||USA (Fair Hill)||Blunt trauma||FEI CCI ***||No||Fell off, major head injuries. Unconscious for several months, died 28/12/1997 (source: internet)||Table|
|14/03/1998||Linda Riddle||37||F||USA (Trojan)||Not reported||Not reported||Yes||Referred to in Internet forum: "Linda Riddle died when her horse misjudged the bounce … competing advanced." Horse hit the second element and the rider flew over the fence, the horse then jumped on the rider. (source: BP; internet)||Bounce, rails and ditch|
|22/03/1998||Tasha Khouzam||18||F||Australia (Jupiter Creek)||Crush||NAT Novice||Yes||Horse hit fence, somersaulted over on top of rider (source: BP; internet)||Log fence, 4′ wide|
|13/04/1998||David Foster||43||M||Ireland (Rathmolyon)||Crush||NAT Advanced||Yes||Horse somersaulted over on top of rider at water jump (source: internet)||Not reported|
|20/06/1998||Keith Taylor||32||M||USA (Radnor)||Crush||International' (unconfirmed) Level not reported||Not reported||Horse made an error in jumping and fell, landing on rider. (source: BP, internet)||Coffin/ditch|
|11/10/1998||Roberta Scioscia||43||F||USA (Tryon)||Unknown||NAT Preliminary||Not reported||Death notice in NYTimes (online), 11/10/1998. (source: internet)||# 3, Log,|
|1999 †||Ken Machette||58||M||USA (Trojan)||Crush||NAT Preliminary||Yes||The horse jumped from a standstill, flipped and landed on rider. “Broke Ken in half.“ (source: BP, internet)||Log drop into water|
|15/05/1999||Peta Beckett||33||F||England (Savernake)||Blunt, crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse hit fence (bounce, offset rails), somersaulted over on top of rider (source: internet)||#7 & 8 double (bounce), rails|
|27/06/1999||Robert Slade||30||M||England (Wilton Park)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Attempted bounce fence with insufficient impulsion, horse fell on rider (source: BP, internet)||#17 double (bounce)|
|22/08/1999||Polly Phillips||30||F||Scotland (Thirlestane Castle)||Crush||International“ (unconfirmed)|
|Yes||Horse hit fence hard, somersaulted over on top of rider (source: BP, internet)||#10 Oxer|
|4/09/1999||Simon Long||38||M||England (Burghley)||Crush||FEI CCI ****||Yes||Horse refused at direct element (water), was immediately turned to attempt the RH option, hit fence with both front legs and somersaulted onto rider. (Source: BP, internet)||#20 jump out of water|
|26/09/1999||Peter McLean||20||M||England (Somerleyton)||Crush||NAT Intermediate||No||Parallel rail fence, horse stumbled on landing, fell on rider (source: internet)||Oxer|
|9/04/2000||Mark Myers||32||M||Australia (Fig Tree Pocket)||Crush||NAT Intermediate||Yes||Horse hit second element of bounce, rail into water. Horse somersaulted over onto rider, rider already dead when medical team arrived. (source: internet)||#10 (approx)|
|16/04/2000||Rhonda Mason||35||F||Australia (Camperdown)||Crush||NAT Pre-novice||Yes||“Horse was on the forehand, and galloping downhill, and just didn’t see the fence because its head was too low“ (eyewitness, Internet forum). Horse hit fence, stumbled on landing and rolled onto rider (source: internet)||#15|
|30/04/2000||Jemima Johnson||38||F||England (Wilmslow)||Crush||NAT Advanced||Yes||Horse failed to make the height, hit log pile on the rise, somersaulting over onto rider (source: internet)||Not reported|
|25/08/2003||Samantha Hudson||33||F||England (Moreton-in-Marsh)||Crush||NAT Novice||Yes||Horse hesitated, hit fence (log over ditch) with chest, somersaulting over onto rider (source: internet)||#14|
|24/07/2004||Cindy Burge||41||F||USA (Rebecca Farm)||Crush||NAT Level unknown||No||Not fence related. Horse slipped on turn, rolled onto rider. |
Died 28/7/04 (source: internet)
|Not fence related|
|29/08/2004||William Booth||51||M||USA (Senator Bell Farm)||Blunt trauma||NAT Level unknown||No||Horse refused at stone wall, throwing rider into wall (source: internet)||Not reported|
|5/09/2004||Caroline Pratt||41||F||England (Burghley)||Crush (in water)||FEI CCI ****||Yes||Horse clipped jetty, somersaulted over onto rider in shallow water (source: internet)||#26 (third last)|
|21/08/2006||Sherelle Duke||28||F||England (Brockenhurst Park)||Crush||NAT Advanced||Yes||Horse hit second element of double, somersaulting over onto rider (source: internet)||Not reported|
|23/11/2006||Mia Erikkson||17||F||USA (Galway Downs)||Crush (in water)||FEI CCI **||Yes||Slow rotational fall. Horse fell on her after rotational fall. |
Sister Shana died in riding accident in 2003 (source: internet)
|8/12/2006||Kim Hyung-Chil||47||M||Qatar (Doha)||Crush||FEI|
|Yes||Horse caught front legs on upper part of jump, somersaulted over onto rider (source: internet, YouTube)||#8|
|17/02/2007||Amanda Bader||32||F||USA (Ocala)||Blunt trauma||NAT|
|No||Fell from her horse, sustained head injury. Died 28/2/07 (source: internet)||Not reported|
|14/03/2007||Amelie Cohen||30||F||France (Fontainbleu)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse somersaulted at fence and landed on top of rider (source: internet)||#7|
|18/04/2007||Jo-Anne Williams||34||F||England (Sapey)||Blunt trauma||NAT|
|No||Rider sustained serious head injury when her horse hit the top of a bench jump (source: internet)||#8|
|8/05/2007||Julie Silly||17||F||France (Jardy)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse fell heavily on rider after rotational fall at “house fence” (source: internet)||#3b|
|21/07/2007||Elin Stalberg||19||F||Sweden (Bollnas)||Unknown||NAT|
|Yes||Horse somersaulted over fence (corner fence), landed on rider (source: internet)||Third last|
|31/07/2007||Anke Wolf||40||F||Germany (Neu Wulmstorf)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse somersaulted over last fence, landed on top of rider (source: internet)||Last|
|4/08/2007||Tina Richter-Vietor||32||F||Germany (Schenefeld)||Blunt trauma||FEI|
|No||Horse fell after catching a leg in fence, rider thrown right, horse fell left (source: internet)||#2|
|2/09/2007||Maia Boutanos||29||F||France (Moulin)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Portable fence moved on impact, fell over, causing horse to fall on the rider (source: internet)||#5b|
|19/11/2007||Eleanor Brennan||21||F||USA (Ocala)||Crush||FEI|
|Yes||Horse struck fence (table), rolled over onto its neck, trapping rider. Horse died instantly (source: internet)||#18|
|29/01/2008||Shannon Bloomfield||12||F||England (Malt Hill Farm)||Crush||Pony Club||Yes||Horse clipped the jump, and landed on the child, kicking her in the head as it got to its feet (source: internet).||Not reported|
|6/04/2008||Franz Graf||62||M||Austria (Aspang)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse hung a foreleg at fence (table) and somersaulted over onto rider (source: internet).||Last|
|20/04/2008||Karen Rodgers||41||F||Ireland (Ballindenisk)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Horse fell at fence (water) and landed on rider (source: internet).||Second last|
|9/08/2008||Emma Jonathan||23||F||England (Hartpury)||Crush||FEI|
|Yes||Horse struck fence and flipped vertically, landing on rider (source: internet)||#19|
|30/09/2008||Debbie Atkinson||unknown||F||USA (Kentucky)||Not reported||NAT Intermediate||Not reported||'Fell at an intermediate cross-country fence on 2/9/2006. Rider died 2 years later, 30/9/2008 (source: internet)||Not reported|
|15/08/2008||Stephen Moore||45||M||Ireland (Antrim)||Not reported||Unknown||Not reported||Fell at event 2 August 2008, suffered injuries, discharged from hospital, died of unknown causes. Twin brother Sam died at Blenheim in 1997 (source: internet)||Not reported|
|30/10/2008||Jade South||15||F||England (Redmarley)||Crush||Pony Club||Yes||Horse hesitated at fence, rider pushed on. Horse hit portable fence with front legs, fence lifted 10" off the ground, horse somersaulted over fence with rider still in the saddle. Landed on top of rider (source: internet).||Not reported|
|26/04/2009||Ian Olding||47||M||England (Belton)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Rotational fall at table element of combination, horse landed on rider (source: internet)||#13, halfway|
|18/03/2010||Dirk Grouwels||48||M||Belgium (Zutendaal)||Probably crush, as rider was killed instantly after horse somersaulted.||NAT |
Possibly unaffiliated event
|Yes||Horse refused at first part of combination, rider insisted and the horse somersaulted over the fence and landed on rider (source: internet).||Not reported|
|24/05/2010||Elena Timonona||15||F||Russia (Krasny Voskhod)||Crush||NAT|
|Yes||Rotational fall at an upright fence. YouTube video shows horse failed to lift front legs, went straight over the fence and landed fully on rider. Rider does not move after fall. Horse trotted away (source: YouTube, internet)||#16|
|14/09/2010||Robin Donaldson||64||M||England (Beckwithshaw)||Landed on his head||NAT|
|No||Horse straddled a fence and rider fell over her neck and landed on his head.|
Fell on 21 August 2010, died 14 September 2010 (source: internet).
|18/09/2010||Sebastian Steiner||22||M||Italy (Montelibretti)||Not reported||FEI|
|Not reported||No information available||10C (or 11)|
|2/03/2013||Bruno Bouvier||60||M||Portugal (Barocca d’Alva)||Not reported||FEI |
|Yes||Rotational fall at fence. Horse trod on its own shoe and tripped into brush arrowhead fence, landed on rider (source: internet)||#5 arrowhead|
|26||M||UK (Somerford Park)||Crush||FEI CIC *||Yes||Rotational horse fall at fence, table type, landed on rider (source: internet)||#4B table|
|14/06/2014||Jordan McDonald||30||M||England (Nunney)||Crush||NAT Novice||Yes||Rotational horse fall, landed on rider|
“The horse struck the jump with its front legs and slowly rotated across the jump and on to the other side, throwing its rider, Jordan McDonald, to the ground and landing full square on top of him.” (Coroner’s report) (source: horseandhound.co.uk).Coroner found that body protector did not meet British Eventing’s standard (source: internet).
|14/06/2014||Benjamin Winter||25||M||Germany (Luhmühlen)||Crush||FEI CCI ****||Yes||Rotational horse fall at fence 20 (second ride in class), landed on rider (source: internet)||#20 Table|
|28||M||France (Le Pouget)||Fell from horse||FEI|
|Not reported||Fell 12/11/2014, Died 14/6/2015, after being in a medically induced coma since the fall.(source: horsetalk.co.nz)||#8|
|30||M||Spain (Seville)||Not reported||FEI|
|Not reported||Horse and rider fall (source: internet)||#10C 3rd element of water complex|
|12/04/2015||Sabrina Manganaro||25||F||Italy (Cuceglio)||Fall when horse fell. Possible kick from horse.||NAT|
Level 3 (equivalent to Preliminary)
|Yes||Rotational horse fall. Horse apparently underestimated the size of the fence and fell (source: internet)||#13 “Skinny“ sloping log fence|
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O’Brien, D. Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing? Animals 2016, 6, 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6020013
O’Brien D. Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing? Animals. 2016; 6(2):13. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6020013Chicago/Turabian Style
O’Brien, Denzil. 2016. "Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?" Animals 6, no. 2: 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6020013