Safe Return to Riding - Rider and Parent Resources.

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Safe Return to Riding

HCBC Staff
Created: October 26, 2015

Excellent booklet for those returning to riding after an accident.

University of Kentucky (UK) Health Care, in partnership with the UK colleges of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, and Public Health and in conjunction with nearly 50 community, equine, and medical organizations, has released a new educational booklet within the Saddle Up Safely educational partnership.

“Safe Return to Riding” covers topics including preparing for an injury, what to do immediately after an accident, returning to riding after a significant injury or long illness, and includes a newly developed equestrian injury and concussion assessment tool. In addition, the booklet gives information about calories burned during 30 minutes of activity, safety tips, and helmet information.

The booklet was written by members of the Saddle Up Safely Auxiliary, a group of dedicated volunteers passionate about rider safety issues who serve to help create and disseminate the campaign’s educational messages.

“The auxiliary regularly met to discuss and debate each safety point to ensure the recommendations were grounded in good horsemanship and were realistic,” said Bill Gombeski, MBA, MPH, Senior Advisor, Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at UK HealthCare and Saddle Up Safely lead. “I really appreciate their dedication and vision.”

One of those auxiliary members and longtime core member of the campaign, Fernanda Camargo, DVM, PhD, equine extension professor within UK’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, shared what it meant to her to return to riding and why she felt the booklet was helpful.

“I was a little anxious to return to riding after having a child. But I did it slowly; I used a horse that I trusted, and I leaned on the solid equitation foundation I had built throughout the years,” she said. “Those three elements together ensured I returned to riding successfully and gave me the confidence to start on new riding challenges.”

Saddle Up Safely was launched in 2009 in advance of the 2010 World Equestrian Games in response to the number of riders admitted to UK's Chandler Emergency Department. The campaign aims to increase awareness and educate riders about riding and horse handling safety. The campaign’s ultimate goal is to reduce the number and severity of rider injuries and help make a great sport safer.

“Saddle Up Safely is an example of the type of collaborative effort that a land-grant institution strives for--it involves a number of different colleges and draws on the expertise of industry participants to produce an educational product beneficial to the entire equine industry,” said Jill Stowe, PhD, director of UK Ag Equine Programs.

Statistics underscore the need. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System's 2014 estimates, millions of people ride horses each year, generating approximately 50,688 emergency room visits, with more than 16.6% of those being admitted to the hospital.

While motorcycle riders experience a serious injury every 7,000 hours of riding, horseback riders experience one every 350 hours, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that one in five equestrians will be seriously injured during their riding careers. And novice riders, especially children and young adults, are eight times more likely to suffer a serious injury than professional equestrians.

The campaign features several tools to inform and educate, including a series of informational brochures; an interactive website featuring safety tips and stories from riders who were injured; a horse rider safety blog written by Camargo; continuing education opportunities for medical personnel and first responders; education-based programs; and an auxiliary comprised of volunteers. target='_blank' >To visit the campaign website, read one of several booklets, share tips about experiences involving horse and rider safety, or to read the blog, go to target='_blank' >For a copy of the safe return to riding booklet, visit

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