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Non-fatal horse related injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States, 2001–2003
  1. K E Thomas1,
  2. J L Annest1,
  3. J Gilchrist2,
  4. D M Bixby-Hammett3
  1. 1Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
  3. 3American Medical Equestrian Association/Safe Riders Foundation, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Karen E Thomas
 OSP/NCIPC/CDC, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Mailstop K-59, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA; KEThomas{at}


Objective: To characterise and provide nationally representative estimates of persons with non-fatal horse related injuries treated in American emergency departments.

Methods: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS–AIP) is a stratified probability sample comprising 66 hospitals. Data on injuries treated in these emergency departments are collected and reported. NEISS–AIP data on all types (horseback riding and otherwise) of non-fatal horse related injuries from 2001 to 2003 were analysed.

Results: An estimated 102 904 persons with non-fatal horse related injuries (35.7 per 100 000 population) were treated in American emergency departments each year from 2001 to 2003 inclusive. Non-fatal injury rates were higher for females (41.5 per 100 000) than for males (29.8 per 100 000). Most patients were injured while mounted on a horse (66.1%), commonly from falling or being thrown by the horse; while not mounted, injuries most often resulted from being kicked by the horse. The body parts most often injured were the head/neck region (23.2%), lower extremity (22.2%), and upper extremity (21.5%). The most common principal diagnoses were contusions/abrasions (31.4%) and fractures (25.2%). For each year that was studied, an estimated 11 502 people sustained traumatic brain injuries from horse related incidents. Overall, more than 11% of those injured were admitted to hospital.

Conclusions: Horse related injuries are a public health concern not just for riders but for anyone in close contact with horses. Prevention programmes should target horseback riders and horse caregivers to promote helmet use and educate participants about horse behaviour, proper handling of horses, and safe riding practices.

  • ATV, all-terrain vehicle
  • NEISS–AIP, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program
  • SR, sports and recreation
  • horse
  • equestrian
  • sports and recreation
  • traumatic brain injury

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  • Published Online First 12 April 2006

  • Competing interests: none declared