The Personal Injury Blog

Horse Riding Accidents: Helping you stay safe

Horse riding is an enjoyable hobby for many adults and children in the UK. According to statistics from the British Horse Society (BHS) there are 944,000 horses in Britain and 1.3 million regular riders. However with horse riding comes with a set of risks that most experienced riders will know about. Horses are large and powerful creatures and a fall from one can cause particularly devastating injuries. Many horse riders who have been riding for a number of years are already likely to have sustained some sort of injury.

In many cases a horse riding injury is sustained due to a pure accident, the blame for which cannot be apportioned to another party. However there are some instances where a person has been injured while horse riding, through no fault of their own and in these cases it can often be possible to make a personal injury claim.

Common Types of Horse Riding Accidents:

Amongst others, the most common accidents include:

  • Being bitten or kicked by a horse
  • Being injured whilst working with horses, such as a groom or instructor
  • Injury caused by defective or unsuitable equipment, eg the saddle, reins, girth or riding hat
  • Being involved in a road traffic accident
  • Injury as a result of being provided with an unsuitable or unpredictable horse
  • Injury caused by poor road or path surfaces causing a rider to stumble or fall off

Common Horse Riding Injuries:

Horses can reach speeds of up to 30 – 40mph so a fall from a horse at speed is likely to cause serious and life changing injuries and some may be fatal. The most common types of injuries that claimants suffer are:

  • Head injuries and brain damage
  • Spinal injuries
  • Broken bones

Horse Riding Accidents on the Road:

In many areas a lack of accessible bridleways and off-road hacking means that many horse riders must ride on the roads. Consequently they are frequently involved in road traffic accidents which often result in injuries to both horse and rider.

Statistics from the BHS show that since November 2010 there have been 2,900 incidents involving horses on the road, 230 horses have died at the scene or later as a result of their injuries and 39 riders have been killed. From 2016 – 2017, 81% of these incidents occurred because the driver did not allow enough room between their vehicle and the horse, with 1 in 5 incidents involved a car colliding with the horse.

Drivers have a responsibility to look out for horse riders and be mindful of the different needs riders have on the roads. For example drivers are not permitted to beep their horns near a horse as it may cause them to jump and throw the rider off, or cause disruption on the road. Another consideration is that horse riders do not approach a right hand turn by moving into the middle of the road, instead they begin turning right after signalling, when they are at the junction they wish to turn into.

How Can Horse Riders Prevent Accidents?

  • Wear high-viz, fluorescent and reflective clothing whenever riding on or off road, even if it’s bright sunlight.
  • Wear protective headgear to current approved standards
  • Be alert, give clear and decisive signals
  • Obtain the BHS Rider Safe Award

How Can Motorists Prevent Accidents?

Slow down to a maximum speed of 15mph when approaching and passing horses

  • Be patient, don’t sound your horn or rev you engine
  • Pass the horse wide (at least a car’s width) and slow
  • Drive slowly away


When it comes to insurance, people have to take out car insurance by law but other policies including house insurance, life insurance, travel insurance are all optional. Insurance for horse riding also falls into the optional category. If you are not insured you ride at your own risk. It is very important to take out specialist insurance to cover you for any potential accident, including injury to yourself, another person or any property.

Making a Claim for Compensation Following a Horse Riding Accident:

Not every injury sustained when riding or handling horses will give rise to a claim for compensation. The law relating to such claims can be complex and the individual circumstances of each case must be carefully considered. For this reason you should seek expert advice as soon as possible.

We have recently acted for a motorcyclist who was knocked off his bike by a stray horse, a woman who was injured whilst training polo ponies and a woman who fell when a horse reared up at her on a public footpath, causing serious injury. Both clients won substantial compensation.

If you have been involved in a horse riding accident in the last three years you may be entitled to claim compensation. If you would like some advice from one of our team please call us on 0114 218 4000 or email

Julie Moore

Julie is a litigation executive at Taylor&Emmet LLP. She assists in a wide variety of cases inducing those concerning accidents at work and RTA's. Julie started working at Taylor&Emmet in 2009, prior to joining the firm she worked at a law firm in Leeds having graduated from the city too. For more information on this topic email or call her on 0114 218 4161.

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