A horse is likely to be an American partner in leisure and sport, not labor, for many Americans. However, it is a pleasure that can come at a price and one that many riders should take more seriously.
The National Trauma Data Bank in the USA has done a study that looked at a decade of data and found out how many horses have been injured while riding.
It's simple: If you don't think a weekend of speeding down snowy slopes is worth the risk of breaking a bone, then you may want to stay away from the saddle. Horseback riding was more dangerous than skiing because it required a lot of time.
It's also worth noting that you could play football or even ride a bike. In the UK, a previous study found that motorcyclists are at risk of injury for as little as 0.14 per 1,000 hours. Horse riders could sustain 0.49 injuries per 1,000 hours.
This is not to discourage anyone from enjoying a day on the trails. The Texas researchers who conducted the study want to hear more about the safety risks associated with horseback riding.
The team wrote in their report published in the BMJ journal Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open, "Recently some attention has been paid to the use of protective gear to prevent injuries, particularly as it relates concussions and brain injuries."
"But, very few public health campaigns have been focused on preventing injury in riders who use horses for pleasure or work."
This is not the first study to determine the types of injuries Americans can get from horse riding. However, most of the previous research was limited to specific areas, making it difficult to determine if there are similar risks across the country.
Studies that only focus on the administration and treatment of a particular injury have not done a lot of research on long-term health effects. Considering what we already know, these results may not surprise us.
Only 10% of horse riders who presented to the hospital after a spillage were granted the all clear. Horse riders who get injured while riding are approximately 37 percent more likely to seek treatment for injuries to the thoracic region (chest or upper back) than those who were injured in a fall. This is the most severely injured area of the body.
Nearly a quarter of those admitted sought medical attention for injuries to their extremities and just under a fifth for head injuries. A small number of admissions had a concern level of consciousness in a few cases, which was indicative of severe neurological impairment.
A hospital ward bed was the most painful place they were required to stay. This is true for half of all cases. Only 25% of admissions would be to intensive care. One in ten patients will need surgery.
The majority of riders will go home without any additional services. However, in about 7 percent cases, leaving hospital meant that the rider had to be admitted into rehabilitation or a nursing facility.
Tragically, 320 of nearly 25,000 people who were included in the analysis in the years 2006 to 2017 would never return home due to their injuries.
This list of statistics is not as long as it sounds. Despite suffering comparatively less injuries, the football associations have intensified their advocacy for better head protection in recent times, after a heavy emphasis on brain trauma risks.
It doesn't matter if it's Hollywood-style romance riding, unencumbered by helmets or protective vests, it's not as compelling as you think.
Experts agree that by promoting better protective gear and awareness of injury patterns, this sport can be enjoyed while reducing the severity of serious injuries.
This research was published by BMJ Journals Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open.