This National Equestrian Safety Day (24 March), the experts at Michael Jefferies injury lawyers explain what the five most common riding accidents are and what to do should you be unlucky enough to become injured while in the saddle.
1. Road traffic accidents
While most riders would prefer not to ride on the road, sometimes it's the only way to reach a bridleway.
In 2015, 315 road traffic accidents involving horses were reported.
Over the last eight years, there have been 2900 accidents and near misses involving horses on UK roads. Within the same period, 39 riders and 230 horses have lost their lives on the roads.
According to the Highway Code, riders owe a duty of care to other road users.
Equally, drivers must take care when passing or approaching horses on public roads. Many road traffic accidents involving horses occur because of the thoughtless actions of another road user.
2. Difficult or unpredictable horses ridden by inexperienced riders
At riding schools or trekking centres, accidents can take place if instructors fail to provide riders with a horse suitable for their level of experience.
If disobedient or troublesome horses are allocated to novice riders unable to control them, serious incidents could occur, especially if horses are prone to biting or kicking.
3. Faulty or ill-fitting riding equipment
Faulty or poor-fitting saddles, bridle, girth or reins can increase the chance of injury. It’s also important that riders wear the correct clothing at all times, including shoes with reinforced toes, as well as high-vis jackets or vests when riding on the road.
At equestrian centres, staff have a duty of care to provide riders with good-quality and suitable riding equipment. If they fail to do so and provide defective or loose riding gear, they may put riders at risk.
4. Accidents at work
Equestrian accidents sometimes happen in the workplace. If you work with horses at a riding school, stud farm or trekking centre, your employer is legally responsible for providing you with safe working conditions.
If you're exposed to risk and become injured by a horse because of employer negligence, you're legally entitled to hold them to account.
5. Accidents at events
Accidents can also occur at competition and events - especially intensive competitions like eventing - and there are also instances where spectators may be put at risk.
Measures must be taken by the organisers of these competitions and events to reduce the risk of injury and protect both competitors and spectators.
If you’ve been involved in an accident on the road while riding or become injured while attending an equestrian event, or if your injury occurred as a result of a third party, you could hold them liable.
An experienced personal injury solicitor will be able to guide you through the legal process and help you secure compensation to help put you back in the position you were in prior to your accident.
Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now. Find out what’s in the latest issue here.