Purpose: Equestrian activities are regarded by some as high-risk sports, and our recent experience suggested this to be true. We undertook this study to review our experience with pediatric equestrian injuries.
Methods: After institutional review board approval, we reviewed emergency department and hospital admissions for children 0 to 18 years, with equestrian trauma, over an 11-year period.
Results: There were 164 encounters with 135 girls and 29 boys. Most injuries (82%) occurred after falling or being thrown from the animal, and only 12% occurred during jumping or rodeo competitions. The remaining injuries were secondary to being trampled, kicked, or trapped under the animal. Eighty-seven children required hospital admission. Lacerations and contusions (58%) or orthopedic injuries (31%) were most common in the emergency department cohort. In the admission cohort, injury sites included orthopedic (34%), head (23%), abdomen (21%), and chest (11%). Multiple injuries occurred in 13%. A significant number of children required surgical interventions, including 19 orthopedic procedures, 4 laparotomies, 3 facial reconstructions, and 2 craniotomies. The average length of stay was nearly 4 days, with 60% of the children requiring intensive care admission. There were no deaths. One child was discharged to rehab, the rest were sent home.
Conclusions: In our experience, more than one third of the children admitted after sustaining injuries in horse-related sports required surgical interventions. Children participating in equestrian activities are at risk for substantial injury, and pediatric care providers must maintain a high index of suspicion when evaluating these children.