Each year in Australia, about 20 riders die from horse-related injuries and about 3,000 riders are admitted to hospital with serious injuries. Although these serious injuries represent a small proportion of horse-related injuries that occur in Australia each year, their health and social consequences can be severe and lead to lasting disabilities.
Currently, no national system exists to collect fall-related injury data of riders or horses in Australia or overseas. In response to this need, a pilot project was undertaken to see if a surveillance program to monitor falls at specific equestrian events is feasible. Falls associated with the cross-country phase of eventing was the focus of this study as falls-related deaths and severe injuries have been reported in this sport in recent years.
This publication reports on rider, fall and injury data from 29 venues in New South Wales and South Australia. It demonstrates that monitoring of falls and their injuries at events is feasible by analysing data reported by riders, Technical Delegates and jump judges. It also indicates that riders and other equestrian groups support a surveillance system to monitor falls and to inform scientific research on safety in the sport.