Me and BootZ

Bay Area Equestrian

Last edited October 16, 2014

Hit Air Air Vests and Jackets

Buying this Air Vest can make you more safe on a horse, I know; I have seen it work twice with two riders. The question is "When we will have a fall?, not" IF". Being prepared in advance is the key to safety.
Use the code ENSPAMBER for 10% Discount!

Download the literature.


Pet Owner / Trainer / Clinician
ICP Demo Rider
Gilroy, Ca
408 888 8703

Horse Safety is No Accident!
Safety OOPs! of the Moment


Horse Safety,

  • In 2007, 78,000 people were seen in the U.S. emergency rooms due to horse-related injuries; 9,000 of those were admitted to hospitals for further treatment (See Article within)
  • Horseback riding accounted for 11.5% of emergency department (ED) visits where non-fatal Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) was cause of the visit (1) .
  • Research has shown that 82% of children's and 62% of all rider's horse related accidents are the consequence of falls from horses(2).
  • Head injuries comprise about 18% of all horseback riding injuries, although they are the number one reason for hospital admissions and the leading cause of death(3).
  • A four year retrospective study showed that of horse-related injuries, 55% percent were inexperienced or beginner riders, and 10% were novice riders(4).
  • A study in New Zealand cites horseback riding as more dangerous than motorcycle riding or car racing(5).
  • more than 2,300 riders under the age of 25 years are hospitalized annually because of horseback-riding injuries(6)


  1. Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) --Injuries from Sports and Recreation Activities --- United States, 2001—2005. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Equestrian Injuries in Children.Cuenca AG, Wiggins A, Chen MK, Kays DW, Islam S, Beierle EA. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2009 Jan;44(1):148-50.
  3. Sports Related Head Injury, , 2007
  4. A Review of Horse-related Injuries in a Rural Colorado Hospital: Implications for Iutreach Education.Newton AM, Nielsen AM.J Emerg Nurs. 2005 Oct;31(5):442-6
  5. Interpreting human and horse interactions, Equestrian Injuries in NZ, A Review of the Lliterature, A report for the accident compensation Corporation, Glenda Northey, MA, (Hons) MLIS, 2006, p.12l
  6. Equestrian injuries: incidence, injury patterns, and risk factors for 10 years of major traumatic injuries. Ball CG, Ball JE, Kirkpatrick AW, Mulloy RH.Am J Surg. 2007 May;193(5):636-40.
  7. Pediatric Equestrian Injuries: A 14-year Review. Barone, Gary and Rodge.J Trauma. 1989
    Feb;29(2):245-7.PMID: 2918566 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  8. Horseback riding injuries among children and young adults Journal of Family Practice, August, 1994 by Christey, DNelson, Rivara, Smith, Condie
  9. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 1999-2003 Horsebackriding injury and cost estimates for youth 0-19 years from National Electronic Injury Surveillance System(NEISS) Data (unpublished data from CSN EDARC) March 2005.

Organizations and Law

Horses are large animals, and just because of their size they are potentially dangerous.  Add to their size, their inherent nature, a flight animal that survives in nature by escaping quickly, and add in a human prey animal and you have a perfect formula for accidents.  This is why safety around and riding horses must be a priority.  Most horses don't try to hurt you, but they often do accidentally hurt you.  Since you, the human are the smarter of the two, you must always be thinking ahead to avoid mishaps and mistakes.  

The best organization that I am aware of regarding horse safety and horse law is held at the University of Vermont , on behalf of the American Association for Horsemanship Safety, Inc.  It is an excellent resource for information. the founder Jan Dawson has excellent books that are required reading for several other certification programs, such as USDF. I hosted and attended a Certification Clinic here in Gilroy. I learned about negligence information as it relates to horses. This was timely because I had been contacted about being an expert witness for a north bay law firm with some equestrian cases. The teaching component was based on the Secure Seat Method with gives the instructor verification tools to check a students readiness for progressively more active riding. I had read Jan's book a few years before, Secure Seat, and it made perfect sense to me. As a young person I had always had correct position in my training, correct position leads to correct balance. Correct balance leads to the correct muscles being strengthened. It was logical and fit my way of teaching and the foundation I experienced to be true and correct. I got many tools in the clinic that helped my teaching, and even helped refresh some of my own problematic riding areas, like sitting a big-moving, impulsive trotting type horse, like my Pickle boy. The most athletic horses are the most elastic and fluid in their range of motion. One true test of advanced riding is being one with an advanced level horse, no matter what discipline.

EMSA,equestrian medical safety association For many years, the EMSA has provided education, research and resources to protect riders and improve safety within equestrian sports. The SRF was formed to provide a network of assistance to injured riders. In 2003, the two groups merged to form an organization that primarily works to prevent equestrian accidents, but are able to assist riders when an injury has occurred.

Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA).  I attended one of their certification clinics in the mid 090's.  It was a 5 day, 40+ hour course.  It was very good and comprehensive. This organization has changed its name several times and then turned into a career ladder for Julie Goodnight. Since Julie left, the site has become less commercial, and also less current. When money and profit and marketing get mixed with non profit education organizations, someone always looses. In my opinion, the organization lost  by being steered into commercialism and then was dumped. I can only guess that when Julie left, she took her business infrastructure with her. You can find her link on the web yourself if you are interested.

The American Riding Instructors Certification program is a comprehensive certification program.  It is not as "hands on" as the CHA, but relies heavily on written testing and video to do assessment.  They maintain a list on their site of their certified instructors. 

A very nice safety brochure was developed by for the 2010 World Equestrian Games,

A 4-H safety brochure from Colorado State University:
Here is their brochure in pdf:

The United States Eventing Instructor Certification Program (ICP) is also a program I attended. It is very discipline specific, dressage principled, vocabulary specific. I was a demonstration rider for a workshop, and audited a dressage workshop, and began the testing at a jumping workshop. I got so bogged down in the vocabulary and realized how often I use certain concepts, like "soften" or "release" that I had trouble teaching on the spot. It was strange for me, as i don't usually get performance anxiety, but I did. So I decided to not test, and just audit the jumping workshop as well. The instructor's are all gold medal or olympic level riders, presently or historically. It is a wealth of information. The dressage was more "german" which is stylistically more rigid and connected to the face than "french classical", as defined by Dr. Deb Bennett or even Don Sachey, and ICP instructor. I prefer the softer dressage.

My client base is not focused on just eventing, so having the certification felt less important than just attending. It was also less expensive for the same information. Hopefully this link points to the  National Agricultural Safety Database NASD, national ag  safety database and its document on horses and children

yes, I took this from an internet site when the permissions would not let me contact Liz Goldsmith and ask if I could post it. Generally, most writers want their material out there, as long as we credit them. So, Thank; you so much, Liz, I tried to contact you! The site was: Equestrian Products Review,

Safety Articles

Which Equestrian Helmets are the Safest?


Yesterday I talked about the importance of regularly replacing your helmet since the protective materials degrade over time. Today, I'm going to address the issue of safety testing.

Once you've made the decision to buy a new helmet, you probably want to know which helmets offer the most protection. An absolute answer is harder to come by than you might think because in the U.S. helmets are rated using a pass/fail system. Approved helmets meet the minimum requirements of the standard established by the American Society of Testing & Materials, ASTM F1163. This standard defines performance criteria and test methods.

Conformity assessment of riding helmets to defined standards is performed primarily by the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI). Helmet manufacturers provide samples of each model and size to the SEI for simulated crash testing using the methods defined in the ASTM Standard. SEI then publishes the models and sizes that pass the tests.

The video below demonstrates some of the testing that is performed on helmets and demonstrates very clearly how much better today's ASTM approved helmets protect your head than helmets of the past. They use a Caliente for comparison. I can vividly remember when I -- and many eventers -- wore a Caliente helmet because we thought that they were safer because they were favored by jockeys!

No comparative data is available.

So the question becomes, given that the cost of an ASTM helmet ranges from about $40 to more than $500, what do you get for the additional $450?

According to the Equestrian Medical Association:

"There is no evidence that higher priced helmets or those which use exotic materials test better than the other certified models. We don’t do comparison testing in the U.S. because one model will absorb more impact better than another on one impact site and then it may absorb less at another site. Without knowing where an individual head is going to be impacted, there is no fair way to say that any one model is superior.

The Safety Equipment Institute and the manufacturer receive test result numbers, and unless the manufacturer releases them to someone, they are considered to be proprietary information. Over the years some manufacturers have shared their information and from that limited data it appears that the least expensive sports helmets test the best; but all of the helmets on the certified product list exceed the minimum standards. . . . A larger liner means a larger helmet, which not only absorbs energy but which also works to deflect blows to the face, an uncovered area which is a frequent recipient of an impact."

In other words, fashion and trendiness seems to influence price more than actual performance. In fact, fashion may work against performance because according to the statement above, the helmets that will provide the best protection are probably the ones that are the least fashionable because they will not be the low profile, sleeker models, but rather the ones that make you look like a mushroom head.

In the U.K. there was an effort to publish independent helmet testing under the Equestrian New Helmet Assessment Program (ENHAP). The initiative was spearheaded by the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund (named after a rider who died at the Burghley Horse Trials) and managed by the Transport Research Laboratory which is experienced in the testing of hats and which developed a new helmet system for Formula 1 racing. The group spent two years developing its test protocols and then published its assessment of 55 helmets that were already approved by EN, BS, ASTM or SNELL. The ENHAP tests included impacts on flat, curved and sharp surfaces as well as crush and stability tests.

Forty of the 55 helmets were rejected as being not safe enough.

The results published in 2003 were widely disputed by the major helmet manufactures and the British Horse Association. They were never updated and the report was pulled from the MDIRF web site. Incidentally, the US helmet manufacturer with the best scores was also the least expensive: Troxel.

The other interesting piece of information that came out of that study (and which I've seen confirmed elsewhere) is that smaller sized helmets performed better than larger ones. So, if you have a larger head, you are already at a disadvantage!

The bottom line? Find an ASTM/SEI approved helmet that fits you well (there are now helmets for almost every shape of head) and most importantly, wear it!

Air vests for Riding; I've seen it work!

I have seen the Hit Air bag work two different times to save riders from being injured in a fall.

I have clients who want to ride cross country, jumping obstacles. I was watching from my own horse as my student cantered toward a jump in a large 100 acre field. He cantered about 50 yards across the field and turned back toward me to jump a practice fence. My horse turned his head as if to walk; I looked down at him and as i turned his head back--I heard an unfamiliar sound. When I looked up, my client was standing on the ground holding his horses empty bridle and;his horse was running across the field bridleless.

Approaching the jump, his horse propped his front legs causing my client to fly off over the top of his horses head. In that instant I had looked down, the fall had happened; the air bag had deployed, and my client was standing and unharmed before I realized what happened. I rode to him, he was laughing and saying "It worked, it worked", talking about his vest. The next day we rode together in this hunter pace. He is wearing his vest in the picture.

The second time I saw the vest work, a client was practicing one-rein stops while riding a hot arab horse. As well as riding english, we integrate other methods. I had other riders in the arena. As I worked with another rider, I head an unfamiliar noise behind me. Another rider said, "ut,oh". I turned my head and saw the arab's rider on the ground. The horse had stumbled, she tipped forward, lost her balance and fell to the ground over the horses shoulder.

In his attempt to not fall with her, the horse stepped on her as well. She had no injuries or bruising where the vest was, but later had bad bruising on her inner thigh and imprints of the horses foot. The vest protected her body when she fell, and if she had been stepped on where the vest was, there was no bruising or traces of impact. I am recommending these vest to all my clients.

Hit Air - Airbag Vests and Jackets Not just for the Professional!!

I finially had an incident that set off my own safety vest. An older unbroke mustang bolted out of the arena. He hesitated at a fence like he might jump over it or spin and continue running. I took this opportunity to jump off as quickly as i could. When my feet hit the ground I was still standing. My vest is set so that I can dismount without deploying it. In this instance, my feet slipped on the gravel and went out from under me. Before my seat hit the ground the air bag was snug around my neck, torso, and tail bone. I only got a tiny bruise where I rolled sideways onto my hip. As for the horse, he spun and continued running, but i was safe!

Check this out, Prelim rider with helmet cam and hit air vest!

Keeping Yourself Safe When Riding

and article in the magazine The Horse,

Article from University of Kentucky on Safety!

Safety OOPs of the Moment, think a head..

Ooops, what if..... the horse spooks forward? What if the horse accidentally steps on this child's belly, or face, or pelvis? This was taken from an ad for a therapeutic riding program. Some of this horror is bad photography, the angle makes it appear as if the little human is in front of both of the horse's front legs, but Gee, it is only in front of one side of the horse. That really increases the safety odds..... With ads like this, is it any wonder children don't understand that wearing a helmet is necessary. I am appalled that a magazine trying to sell horse products would be so careless about lack of horse safety. No reins, no helmet. What if the horse got stung by a bee?

What were they thinking??????

This was an email solicitation for donations or a marketing ad sent from a a california NRHA certified riding program.

This tells us something about the education involved in some certification programs.

Then again, if the child is already disabled....

This picture should scare everyone to death. Riding double, walking beside a horse whose head is not controlled ups the ods of gtting kicked, stepped on. Just stupid, and careless.

This is just PURE IGNORANCE.


Horse Safety and

© Christine Amber, MA, 1998 - 2009


Site Description
Equestrian is a small, personal  horse training barn and riding club in Gilroy, Ca. (South San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley) where owner/trainer Christine Amber trains horses and riders. Equestrian Training's focus is teaching adults and teems about, caring for, riding , keeping and owning horses as well as developing safe, strong, and sensible riding skills.  You can take  private riding lessons in English or Western Riding. You can join the riding club which emphasizes horses as a lifestyle that encompasses exercise, recreation, fun and a significant time commitment of three rides or group lesson a week.   Equestrian Training's horse training focuses on foundations that develop safety, relationship, willingness, obedience and balance in an athletic horse.