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Is horseback riding a safe sport?

Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Medicine
Horseback riding is a very popular sport in the United States but it does carry an element of risk. Over 30 million people participate in this sport and very few take precautions against injuries.  Horseback riding carries a higher injury rate per hour of exposure than downhill ski racing, football, hang-gliding and motorcycle racing. The American Medical Association reported head injuries were decreased when people voluntarily wore helmets.
With the proper instruction, horseback riding can be very safe.  There are various types of horseback riding such as hunt seat, dressage, and Western style.  Hunt seat involves jumping and individuals who engage in this type of riding will also compete in shows.  Dressage involves directing the horse through multiple movements by only using small movements of the hands and legs.  Western style of riding is the most popular form of riding for pleasure and casual riding.  For maximum safety, never ride alone, especially if you are new to the sport.  For more information on proper technique, search for a qualified instructor at a place where horses are available for hire. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.