The 2010 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games place a global spotlight on not only Kentucky, but on the horse industry as well. The collaborative campaign Saddle Up Safely has used the games, which run from September 25-October 10, as an opportunity to raise awareness of horseback rider safety.
A recent UK HealthCare survey found that 60 percent of Kentucky horseback riders who responded did not wear any safety apparel the last time they went riding.
“Many riders who have been injured say that they feel those injuries were preventable,” says Fernanda Camargo, equine Extension professor at the University of Kentucky. “Wearing a helmet and paying attention to what your horse is communicating to you are two of the primary ways you can prevent injuries.”
Survey results also found that out of the 100 respondents, 31 had been injured at least once in the past three years while handling or riding a horse. Of those 31, about 70 percent thought their injury could have been prevented.
The survey “showed that the majority of people who rode recently didn’t wear any protective gear, like a certified and properly fitted helmet,” Camargo says.
The Web site and booklets the campaign produced in conjunction with dozens of participating equine organizations, Camargo adds, “can help riders learn safe practices, or serve as an important reminder to many of us who have years of experience but might become lax in our everyday behavior.”
To visit the campaign Web site, share experiences about horse and rider safety, and read a blog hosted by Camargo, go online to www.saddleupsafely.org. You can also view educational brochures with information on horse-transmitted diseases, horse-related injuries, and rider safety.