Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

My 13-year old daughter wants to ride horses. Her father is in a wheelchair from a spinal cord injury after a car accident. He's afraid she'll injure herself riding and is against the idea. What are the chances of this happening?

Different sources report varying rates of risk. A recent survey of the trauma unit at the Denver Medical Center reported a very low 0.02 percent rate of horseback riding accidents over a three-month period of time. This was less than car accidents, falls, or motorcycle accidents.

Other studies say that more injuries occur on horseback than on a motorcycle when riding time is compared hour for hour.

The main difference may be in the kind of injuries that occur. The most common horseback riding accidents are bruises, strains, and sprains. Many injuries occur in the stable while handling or feeding the horse and not when riding at all.

Spinal cord injury (SCIs) can occur from a fall. SCIs and deaths from horseback riding injuries are not very common. Wearing a proper helmet can prevent many injuries. Keeping the foot in the stirrup correctly is also important. A well-trained horse and rider are also keys to safety. Riders must never goof off around horses or try daredevil stunts.

With proper instruction and training most anyone can enjoy horseback riding safely and accident-free.

Adam J. Starr, MD, et al. Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Orthopaedic Trauma. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. June 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 6. Pp. 1115-1121.

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