Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
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Horseback riding and related activities bring risks for serious injury. Extant literature focuses largely on moderate to severe horse-related injuries resulting in a need for medical care. Yet incidents deemed as less severe are also important, with potential to impact subsequent safety precautions and behaviors of parents and children. The study objectives were to gather preliminary information about: (1) the prevalence of a range of horse-related painful incidents experienced by children, (2) children's helmet use and supervision, and (3) the subsequent impact of horse-related painful incidents. The methodological approach was based on a questionnaire. One hundred and twenty four child (120 Female; Mage: 11.82 years; rangeage: 8–18; SDage: 2.26) and parent (103 mothers; 16 fathers; 5 other legal guardians) dyads completed a brief 5 minute researcher-generated questionnaire. The results show, that painful incidents are common for children when handling and riding horses, with the majority of children having experienced these incidents more than once. Helmet use and supervision (typically by parents and coaches) were reported to occur consistently during riding, but less commonly during handling (e.g., grooming). Despite the high prevalence of painful incidents, these incidents largely do not impact children's ability to participate in other activities, result in access to specialized medical attention, or alter children's perceptions or behavior around horses. Findings may have implications for safety and education initiatives. Management implications: Findings from this work suggest several implications. First, in acknowledging the range and frequency of incidents that occur during horse-related activities, educational initiatives should target a broad range of incident types when teaching about horse safety and injury prevention. Second, in recognizing primary caregivers and riding coaches as the most common supervisors of horse-related activities, they should also be targeted in educational initiatives (e.g., horse and safety knowledge, first aid, supervision guidelines). Finally, in developing and implementing targeted safety and injury prevention initiatives, reported benefits of the sport (e.g., improved problem-solving skills) could be used and supported in safety programming.