Top 10 Most Dangerous Horse Riding Events

The Top Ten
1 Cross Country

The reason it's more dangerous than Show Jumping is because the jumps are solid. Yes, Show Jumping is dangerous, yet Cross Country is the same thing, except the jumps aren't dismantled when you crash into one. Thus, rotational falls are very common, and riders crash headfirst into fences. Many horses and riders break their necks or backs on Cross Country simply because the jumps are solid.

Ok, ok. Cross Country. You are going 45 miles per hour, jumping the same height as Show Jumping, BUT you have wider, solid fences! I event, so obviously, I know they are both hard and dangerous, but Cross Country doesn't even begin to compare to Show Jumping! You don't even have a little area to jump for Cross Country. You have HUGE fields! Cross Country should definitely be the most dangerous!

2 Barrel Racing

I did barrel racing when I was 4-8 years old, and I'm starting again in a couple of weeks. But this is extremely dangerous. I have almost fallen off multiple times, and I would always do a full-out gallop. People would always say it's super easy, but let me tell you, galloping while doing sharp turns is extremely difficult. I don't even know how many times I came close to breaking a bone. I would also do barrels bareback and use nothing but my legs to turn. That is very hard, but luckily, I never fell off.

I barrel race, trick ride, and jump hunter and cross-country. My boyfriend is teaching me to ride a bronco, but hands down, barrel racing is the most dangerous. Horses who know they get to run full speed get very hot-headed. My gelding has been known to push through the bit just to get a larger stride into the second barrel.

I have fallen on metal barrels and have broken multiple bones, including a chip in my hip. Once, when we were turning on a dime at the third barrel, my horse slipped and rolled over me. Luckily, he only got my right leg and not my whole body. The sand was soft enough to not snap my leg, but my horse's head hit my nose and broke it. The doctors told me if I ever break my nose again, the bone will go to my brain and I will die. Barrel racing has been more painful than falling onto a log on my jumping course.

3 Wild Horse Race

These horses that are being raced are wild. They have hardly been handled by people, never had a saddle on them, and never been trained. They have been taken from their homes and put in a strange environment only to be tacked up and raced around by some cowboy.

One of the most important things about horseback riding is trust, and these horses have no trust for these guys. Their instinct is to run. They are going to do everything in their power to make sure they don't get put anywhere new, don't get a saddle or bridle, and don't have a person on them. Just getting them that far is highly dangerous. Then they must actually be ridden. They will rear and take off running as fast as they can to get this over with and to get the rider off.

It takes a lot to stay on the horse, and it would be extremely easy to fall off and get hurt or trampled. When it comes to danger, this event has no end. There is not a single second where you are safe and can relax, unlike the other events which are all dangerous, but this one is a little more dangerous in my opinion. That being said, I honestly hate this event and think it's cruel, but I do respect the strength and skill it takes to be successful in it.

4 Horse Racing

This may be the most brutal horse riding sport there is. Not only is it cruel, but it's also a way to get badly injured or trampled to death. Even when you're wearing helmets or body protective gear, you will still get hurt.

I used to ride horses competitively. After a bad fall from a high jump, now I just ride on trails and find somewhere to jump over obstacles or canter and gallop long distances. I happen to own a few horses on a farm with sheep, goats, and cattle, including a rescued Thoroughbred racehorse named Ranger. Sometimes he spooks at small things or he just acts stubborn for no reason, so I just jump off, click my tongue, and say "come on!" in a sweet, high-pitched voice, similar to Judy Hopps from Zootopia. It works... sometimes.

It just saddens me how racehorses get treated badly, plus racing costs so many lives yearly.

5 Steeplechase

THIS is by far the most dangerous horse sport. Have you ever watched it? It combines the high-strung horses running at full speed that we see in thoroughbred racing with jumping almost cross-country-like obstacles. If a horse stumbles at an obstacle, the others are almost surely stepping on him and also falling. Horses and riders get badly hurt and die. This is the discipline I think should be banned for the well-being of horses.

6 Suicide Race

Absolutely awe-inspiring. The only event in the world where the 12,000 spectators also receive an adrenaline rush too.

I can't believe that today's society lets something like that actually happen! Typical.

7 Show Jumping

I recently started lessons a few years ago, and I am currently learning how to jump at a gallop. I am basically someone who is just trying to ride horses for a living, and I don't have any interest in many equestrian sports. It's a good thing that I have such a strong, iron-willed, and loyal horse. His name is Steele, and he is a brown lesson pony that's about my size.

Learning to jump is pretty difficult, as you have to steer with the reins and stay balanced (on an English saddle, by the way) at the same time. Even when I started lessons, I had to hold on to the pommel when I was trotting to stay balanced. The upside? It's the least intense out of most equestrian sports. If you're thinking of fox hunting and cross-country, that's something else.

8 Pole Bending

I did pole bending when I was little. Being a little kid, I galloped and almost fell off the horse multiple times from the sharp turns.

Pole bending is very dangerous. You are typically going very fast, and the horse is doing 12+ lead changes, which can cause them to trip. With the addition of speed, that can be pretty dangerous.

Not a danger? Explain to me then how your horse can slip and fall on you? Pole bending should be treated the same as barrel racing because it has the same exact risks!

9 Eventing

Cross Country is one of the most dangerous sports in horse riding, but it is also part of Eventing - along with Dressage and Show Jumping. I think Eventing should be closer to the top. (This coming from an actual Eventer - I have almost fractured my nose, been thrown into jumps, and almost got a concussion.)

Cross Country is the most dangerous, but Eventing has Cross Country, Show Jumping, and Dressage. I think Eventing is the most dangerous and life-threatening discipline.

Think about riding a horse over tons of jumps, not just any jumps, but eventing jumps, with logs, water, tree branches, trucks, brick walls, etc. Lots of fun! I love it, but everybody has their opinion and what they think. Definitely check out horse eventing on YouTube.

10 Dressage

Yeah, it may be the hardest to do, but it's not as dangerous. Of course, it still is.

The Contenders
11 Mounted Archery

Doing archery on horseback with no hands on the reins, having to steer only with your feet, and shooting a deadly weapon. It can be very difficult to get a horse trained well enough to steer without reins and with special mouth cues, and to teach them not to spook when you sit on them sideways and shoot an arrow at full speed.

12 Vaulting

My friend did vaulting, and she's broken many bones from it. It was so unsafe her barn shut down because of all the accidents.

Doing gymnastics on a horse while it is moving. I do regular gymnastics, but for me to do it on a moving horse, yeah, I could never.

I do vaulting and I've done it for a long time. In my first year, I would've said it wasn't dangerous, but now I've seen my friend crack her skull and neck.

I also pulled another friend by the arm out from under a horse when he tried to kick her after she fell at a canter. Some situations are more dangerous than others. Not all horses are experienced, and our most experienced horse (for vaulting) died.

13 TB Racing

Obviously the most dangerous. Imagine this: You are crouched over a two-pound saddle that must feel like a postage stamp. And your postage stamp is moving at 40 miles an hour on top of an unpredictable 1000-pound animal. You are surrounded by 15 other riders on tiny saddles and horses. At any moment, another horse could pull up in front of you, knock your horse off balance, and off you go.

For the horse, who thanks to horrible breeding has delicate legs that can easily be injured, interference can knock them over, break a leg, and do I really need to explain what happens next?

14 Bronc Riding

I ride saddle bronc and I think that you can die or break something if you land the wrong way or if you get stepped on. This should definitely be at the top of the list because it is way worse than all of these events except the suicide race. I've been riding at the high school and amateur level for 3 years now and I've been in the ER 2 times for breaking bones and 3 times for a concussion.

You can get hung up and get dragged around the arena, you can get kicked, you can get trampled or stepped on, you can get kicked or stepped on the head, you can land wrong and die or end your life. Nonetheless, it deserves a higher rank.

15 Trick Riding

Although I don't do trick riding all the time, it is still an incredibly difficult and dangerous sport. You are literally hanging off the side of a 1000kg animal upside down while it is galloping at 45 km/h!

I do trick riding, and in my opinion, this is definitely the most dangerous type of riding. Imagine hanging off a galloping horse!

16 Reining

Why is this at least not in the top ten? I get that jumping, racing, and barrel racing are up higher, but still! I do reining, and it is awesome but challenging! You have to do fast and slow circles, lead changes, spins, and, of course, sliding stops!

17 Bull Riding Bull riding is a rodeo sport that involves a rider getting on a bucking bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal tries to buck off the rider.American bull riding has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports." To receive a score, the rider must stay atop the bull for eight... read more

If you've ever seen 8 Seconds, you know what I mean. Even world champions die from bull riding.

Bull riding is a very dangerous sport. It can break bones and mess everything up.

18 Cart Racing
19 Jumping

I do jumping! I think it should be at the top of the list!

20 Polo

If you fall off the horse in polo, you will most likely be trampled by the horses following you because polo is all about working in lines on either side of the ball. I know multiple people who have passed because of accidents in polo and many more people injured. I should know, I play it myself.

This sport should be listed as number one on the most dangerous scale, but it isn't because the person who created this didn't do their research. The one thing they got right is that this is a fast game, but they forgot to include the mallets and hard balls used that could both cause concussions or other sorts of damage.

21 Bareback Trick Riding
22 Endurance Racing

As someone who still rides recreationally, I still participate in some events, such as endurance racing. I mainly do hunter pace events and find them so fun, as you feel like you are flowing naturally with your horse.

The course itself runs through small towns (no time to stop at a nearby bar or pub), woodland areas, and open fields for cantering and galloping. The main problem with hunter pace events is that you have to set a fast pace throughout. I always have to trot through wooded areas at a faster pace. One time, I was riding my pony through one and I got a nice face full of spiderwebs. Lovely.

English saddles are highly recommended, as you must be good with balance. There are stops along the way, but you are constantly in a hurry, so you have to dash through to the finish. Love this event to bits, but it is pretty dangerous if you don't know the trails very well and get lost as a result.

23 Goat Tying

I am a barrel racer, pole bender, and goat tier. Barrel racing is very dangerous and I have personally been fallen on. Although barrel racing is dangerous, I have been more seriously injured in goat tying. This is when you run your horse full speed and step off to tie a goat. I have gotten a concussion, broken and bruised ribs along with serious knee problems just from the get-off. Also, the tying part is dangerous. I have broken a finger by tying it in the rope and torn ligaments in my shoulder just flipping the goat.

24 Horse Diving
25 Roping

Calf roping, steer roping, breakaway, and team roping are all super dangerous. I have witnessed arms torn out of the socket by not getting the dally in team roping or getting a bad loop and tearing something. Also, you are running a horse like six times your weight while spinning a rope, holding on, aiming, and controlling the horse. Many fingers and arms have been broken.

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