Jockey injuries in the United States

JAMA. 2000 Mar 8;283(10):1326-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.283.10.1326.


Context: In the sport of horse racing, the position of the jockey and speed of the horse predispose the jockey to risk of injury.

Objective: To estimate rates of medically treated injuries among professional jockeys and identify patterns of injury events.

Design: Cross-sectional survey from data compiled by an insurance broker. Information on the cause of injury, location on the track, and body part injured was evaluated.

Setting: Official races at US professional racing facilities (n = 114) from January 1, 1993, through December 31, 1996.

Participants: A licensed jockey population of approximately 2700 persons.

Main outcome measures: Annual injury incidence rates per 1000 jockey-years, as well as injury type, cause, and location on the track.

Results: A total of 6545 injury events occurred during official races between 1993 and 1996 (606 per 1000 jockey-years). Nearly 1 in 5 injuries (18.8%) was to the jockey's head or neck. Other frequent sites included the leg (15.5%), foot/ankle (10.7%), back (10.7%), arm/hand (11.0%), and shoulder (9.6%). The most frequent location where injuries occurred was entering, within, or leaving the starting gate (35.1%), including 29.5% of head injuries, 39.8% of arm/hand injuries, and 52.0% of injuries to the leg/foot. Most head injuries resulted from being thrown from the horse (41.8%) or struck by the horse's head (23.2%). Being thrown from the horse was the cause of 55.1% of back and 49.6% of chest injuries.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that jockeys have a high injury rate. Efforts are needed to reduce the number of potential injury events on the track and to improve protective equipment so events do not lead to injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • United States / epidemiology