Human interactions with horses entail certain risks. Although the acceptance and use of protective gear is increasing, a high number of incidents and very low or inconsistent voluntary use of safety equipment are reported. While past studies have examined factors influencing the use of safety gear, they have explored neither their influence on the overall safety behavior, nor their relative influence in relation to each other. The aim of the present study is to fill this gap. We conducted an online survey with 2572 participants. By means of a subsequent multiple regression analysis, we explored 23 different variables in view of their influence on the protective behavior of equestrians. In total, we found 17 variables that exerted a significant influence. The results show that both having positive or negative attitudes towards safety products as well as the protective behavior of other horse owners or riding pupils from the stable have the strongest influence on the safety behavior of German equestrians. We consider such knowledge to be important for both scientists and practitioners, such as producers of protective gear or horse sport associations who might alter safety behavior in such a way that the number of horse-related injuries decreases in the long term.
Keywords: equestrians; horse; horse-related accidents; injury prevention; multiple regression analysis; protective behavior; risk; safety equipment.