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Horseback riding accidents in Iceland 2000-2008


Horseback riding is a popular hobby in Iceland as it is in the other Nordic countries but has a relatively high frequency of injuries. The estimated mortality related to horseback rinding injuries is 1/10.000 riders per year. We set out to evaluate the mortality and morbidity of horsebak riding injuries presenting to the emergency department in Landspitali university hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.


We looked at the demographic characteristics of all patients presenting to our department for horseback rinding related injuries during the years 2000-2008. We evaluated injury pattern and severity using AIS and ISS scores. We further registered number of surgical procedures, length of stay, stay in ICU for all patients presenting 2003-2008 and mortality for the period 2000-2007.


During the study period 1849 patients presented to the emergency department in Landspitali university hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland for horseback riding related injuries. 1085 were women (58.7%) and 764 men (41.3%). The most frequent age-group for women was 15-19 years compared with 40-44 years for men. A total of 191 (10.3%) patients were admitted for their injuries. The avarage ISS score for those admitted was 7.7. Most patients presented during the weekends and in the months of march, april and may. The most common body areas injured were lower extremity including pelvis 40%, head 16% and upper extremity 14%. The average lentgh of stay for those admitted was 3.0 days, 8% were admitted to the ICU and about half of the patients needed one or more surgical procedures. The accident related mortality was around 0,5% in our study.


Horseback riding accidents are about three times more common than motorcycle accidents per hour ridden according to our study. The accidents are serious with a high ISS score and mortality rate compared to other non-motorsport related injuries. It appears that increased emphasis need to be put on preventive measures to decrease the mortality and morbidity of this popular hobby.

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Correspondence to Jon M Kristjansson.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kristjansson, J.M., Kristjansson, W. & Mogensen, B. Horseback riding accidents in Iceland 2000-2008. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 18 (Suppl 1), P14 (2010).

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