Portfolio of Research Studies

Research into Horse Riding Safety & Injuries

This research project is one that I recently completed over the summer of 2019 on behalf of a United Kingdom based equestrian brand. They were interested in finding out what some of the common causes of horse riding related injuries were, how likely they were to occur and what measures riders take to help avoid riding related injuries. This was quite an interesting research project to complete on a personal level as my girlfriend is a massive equestrian geek and regular horse rider which provided an interesting angle for an alternative and comparative point of view relating to the findings of the study. 

Research Objectives and Data Collection Methods

The research objectives that we formed with the client were:
  1. What are the most common cause of horse riding related injuries?
  2. What are the most commonly occurring horse riding related injuries?
  3. What actions do horse riders take to avoid common horse riding related injuries?

As the research called for a qualitative angle with the data collection, we focused the first part of our research on conducting short open ended questions with a sample of 25 horse riders to gather their thoughts relating to the research objectives at hand. This aspect of the data collection was designed to gain a more nuanced understanding of the safety dangers and concerns that horse riders have and would subsequently then be used to form the second stage of the data collection which would be a short closed ended questionnaire focused on collecting quantitative data. 

In order to find the 25 respondents for the original data collection, we selected 25 people from the subscription list of a national equestrian brand. These respondents were chosen with the aim of selecting a mix of respondents that covered a wide span of different target profiles and demographics to try and give a variety of different profiles fair representation within this study. Obviously, due to time and budget restraints, a sample size of 25 respondents can only garner a small representation from any profile without massively skewing towards particular demographics. 

The interviews that we conducted with these 25 respondents were conducted over a short phone call lasting between 2 and 5 minutes with a short series of around 7-10 questions that were left intentionally open ended with room for follow up questions to expand further on the answers provided where it was felt necessary. We then used the results collected from this qualitative data collection to form the content of the questionnaire that we used to carry out the quantitative part of our data collection. 

The second stage of our data collection was the questionnaire which we sent out to 3,000 horse riders across the United Kingdom. The questionnaire was formed of closed ended multiple choice questions to help attract a large response rate by making the questionnaire as short and as simple to fill in as possible. Of the 3,000 questionnaires that were sent out we received a response rate of 52% which produced 1,560 valid responses, far above the 40% rate that we were aiming for. The questionnaire was sent out using SurveyMonkey.

The questionnaire was designed to directly answer the research objectives based on a series of multiple choice questions. The choices to these questions were formed based on the responses from the first stage of our data collection. All questions also contained an "Other" choice with the non-required option for respondents to fill in their own option where they wished. 

Research Findings

The research objectives were:
  1. What are the most common cause of horse riding related injuries?
  2. What are the most commonly occurring horse riding related injuries?
  3. What actions do horse riders take to avoid common horse riding related injuries?

Our research found that the 3 most common causes of horse riding related injuries were a lack of proper training, a lack of adequate safety equipment, clothing and footwear, and a lack of self-confidence of the horse rider when riding. A lack of proper training counted for 39% of horse riding related injuries that the research's respondents had experienced, with 32% citing a lack of adequate equipment or apparel and 19% counting for causes relating to self-confidence issues when riding. The three combined made up for 80% of the total responses.

The most common type of injuries were generally bruises and strains occurred from falling off the horse while riding. Interestingly, 83% of the respondents stated that their injuries that they received were not felt to be serious. A small but insignificant volume of respondents received more serious injuries that they felt impacted their everyday activities afterwards. While it seems that horse riding related injuries are somewhat common, serious injuries do not appear to occur very frequently. 

Somewhat predictably, the responses to the questions looking to determine what actions horse riders can take to avoid injuries were the logical reactions to the common causes of injuries that were cited. For example, more thorough and better quality training in relation to a lack of adequate training and making the personal decision to invest in better equipment to combat injuries occurred from a poor choice in riding related purchases. 

Part of our questionnaire focused on getting respondents to expand further on what equestrian equipment they felt better protected themselves from horse riding related injuries. Several different brands of horse riding helmets were suggested with no clear prevailing preference between the horse riders in our sample. However, our respondents clearly showed a favour towards Ariat Riding Boots as their choice of footwear to protect not just the rider from common causes of injury but to also protect the horse when you are riding it. 

Further Research

Due to the time and financial limitations placed on the research as a result of the budget that we were working with, there are plenty of areas for further research to explore to improve on the findings of this research project. Obviously, the most common suggestion would be to expand these findings to a bigger project with a larger sample size of respondents. It would also be beneficial to explore the differences in demographics relative to the findings of this study more. This was not possible to do in an effective manner with the sample size that we were working with. 

While prevention measures were somewhat touched upon as part of our research, there is undoubtedly room to explore this aspect of the study further in greater detail. For instance, while Ariat Riding Boots were found to be a clear choice of preference for horse riders when it came to the horse riding footwear that they felt was the safest and most suitable option for horse riders looking to avoid injuries, there is definitely a door open to explore this aspect relating to other horse riding equipment and apparel.