Colleges team up to teach rider safety

By Margaret Steele

Two UK colleges and UK Healthcare are teaming up to discuss horseback rider safety at the World Equestrian Games.

Saddle Up SAFELY will be presented to the Games’ participants and spectators under the UK Pavilion throughout the Games.  The campaign is a joint collaboration by UK HealthCare, the UK College of Agriculture, the UK College of Public Health and 40 community, equine and medical organizations to aid in the prevention of horseback riding injuries.

“Visitors will have the opportunity to gauge their safety and knowledge, chances to discuss safety issues and answer horse safety questions,” UK spokesperson Julie Meador said.

In the Equine Village, during the Games, Saddle Up SAFELY is partnering with Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Safe Kids, and Equine Guelf at Equimania to perform helmet fitting clinics.  These clinics will teach parents how to pick a protective helmet.

The program’s website,, encourages riders to share their knowledge of safety and prevention tips with others riders.  By submitting tips on how to saddle up safely, you can be entered to win quarterly prizes such as helmets, safety vests, and gift certificates.

As a lifelong horse-person and First Lady of the Commonwealth, Jane Beshear understands how important the horse is to Kentucky.

“As the “Horse Capital of the World,” we must focus on the health and welfare of the horse and rider,” Beshear said. “Through Saddle Up SAFELY, UK HealthCare seeks to educate current and future riders about the hazards of riding and about simple steps that can be taken to prevent accidents.”

A study shows riders with 50 hours or less of riding experience were found most likely to be injured, the program’s website said.  The study also recognized that the more advanced the rider, the greater the chance of serious injury, and the less likely the riders are to use a helmet.

Each year, millions of Americans enjoy horseback riding activities.  Horseback riding is a popular activity for people of all ages but it has an increased risk of injury.

Saddle Up SAFELY and UK HealthCare hope to make horseback riding safer and more pleasurable for all riders and equine enthusiasts not only in Kentucky, but also for the Games’ participants.