Context In the sport of horse racing, the position of the jockey and speed of
the horse predispose the jockey to risk of injury.
Objective To estimate rates of medically treated injuries among professional jockeys
and identify patterns of injury events.
Design Cross-sectional survey from data compiled by an insurance broker. Information
on the cause of injury, location on the track, and body part injured was evaluated.
Setting Official races at US professional racing facilities (n = 114) from January
1, 1993, through December 31, 1996.
Participants A licensed jockey population of approximately 2700 persons.
Main Outcome Measures Annual injury incidence rates per 1000 jockey-years, as well as injury
type, cause, and location on the track.
Results A total of 6545 injury events occurred during official races between
1993 and 1996 (606 per 1000 jockey-years). Nearly 1 in 5 injuries (18.8%)
was to the jockey's head or neck. Other frequent sites included the leg (15.5%),
foot/ankle (10.7%), back (10.7%), arm/hand (11.0%), and shoulder (9.6%). The
most frequent location where injuries occurred was entering, within, or leaving
the starting gate (35.1%), including 29.5% of head injuries, 39.8% of arm/hand
injuries, and 52.0% of injuries to the leg/foot. Most head injuries resulted
from being thrown from the horse (41.8%) or struck by the horse's head (23.2%).
Being thrown from the horse was the cause of 55.1% of back and 49.6% of chest
Conclusions Our data suggest that jockeys have a high injury rate. Efforts are needed
to reduce the number of potential injury events on the track and to improve
protective equipment so events do not lead to injury.