n International SportMed Journal - Support and safety features in preventing foot and ankle injuries in equestrian sports : review article

Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



Equestrian injuries are commonly seen at trauma centres, and they are usually severe, with between 15%-27% of injured patients hospitalised. Moreover, it is recognised that 1 rider in 10 000 is fatally injured per year. Proportionally, injuries to the ankle, foot and toes remain rare in equestrian trauma. According to the injuries recorded in the literature, ankle injuries represent 5.3% of all the injuries, foot injuries 4%, and toe injuries 1%. Most riders with ankle injuries are injured while mounted on a horse, whereas the injuries to the feet and the toes occur primarily when the rider is standing alongside the horse. The risk of severe foot injuries are as a result of when, after falling from the horse, the rider is dragged behind the horse with his / her foot hooked in the stirrup. In this situation, the injury will be consistent with a trauma in forced abduction of the forefoot. Effective protective equipment currently on the market includes reinforced riding boots and safety stirrups. Safety stirrups are designed so that the foot is released easily from the stirrup if the rider falls, thus preventing severe injury. Also, reinforced riding boots will protect the rider's ankle and feet from being accidentally crushed or kicked by the horse. In general, horse-related injuries to the ankle or the foot can often be prevented, or at least diminished in severity, through specific interventions, which are discussed in this article. Prevention programmes should promote complete protective equipment use, including the use of proper riding boots and safety stirrups. Moreover, the education and training of inexperienced riders by equestrian sports professionals regarding safe handling and riding of horses should be provided.

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