December 4, 2012 | By: Holly Wiemers

UK HealthCare, in partnership with University of Kentucky colleges of Agriculture and Public Health and in conjunction with close to 50 community, equine and medical organizations, has released a new educational booklet within the Saddle Up Safely educational partnership.

“Safety While in the Pasture,” covers topics including understanding herd behavior, gates and gate areas, horse equipment, bringing horses into the barn, turning horses loose, riding in pastures with turned-out horses and pasture maintenance.

The booklet was written by members of the Saddle Up Safely Auxiliary, a group of dedicated volunteers passionate about rider safety issues who serve to help create and disseminate the campaign’s educational messages.

“The auxiliary regularly met to discuss and debate each safety point to ensure the recommendations were grounded in good horsemanship and were realistic,” said Bill Gombeski,director of strategic marketing at UK HealthCare and Saddle Up Safely lead. “I really appreciate their dedication and vision.”

Saddle Up Safely was launched in 2009 in advance of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in response to the number of riders admitted to UK's Chandler Emergency Department. The campaign aims to increase awareness and educate riders about riding and horse handling safety. The campaign’s ultimate goal is to reduce the number and severity of rider injuries and help make a great sport safer.

Statistics underscore the need. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System's 2007 estimates, millions of people ride horses each year, generating approximately 79,000 emergency room visits, with more than 13 percent of those admitted to the hospital.

While motorcycle riders experience a serious injury every 7,000 hours of riding, horseback riders experience one every 350 hours, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that one in five equestrians will be seriously injured during their riding careers. And novice riders, especially children and young adults, are eight times more likely to suffer a serious injury than professional equestrians.

The campaign features several tools to inform and educate, including a series of informational brochures; an interactive website featuring safety tips and stories from riders who were injured as well as a horse rider safety blog, written by Fernanda Camargo, equine extension professor within the College of Agriculture; continuing medical education opportunities for medical personnel and first responders; education-based programs; and an auxiliary comprised of volunteers.

To visit the campaign website, share tips about experiences involving horse and rider safety or read the blog, go to For a copy of the pasture safety booklet, visit


Bill Gombeski, 859-257-2296; Holly Wiemers, 859-257-2226

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