• Roe JP, Taylor TK, Edmunds IA, Cumming RG, Ruff SJ, Plunkett-Cole MD, Mikk M and Jones RF (2003). Spinal and spinal cord injuries in horse riding: the New South Wales experience 1976-1996. ANZ J Surg 73:331-334. Summary: OBJECTIVES: The objective of the present study was to determine the incidence of acute spinal cord injuries (ASCI) in all forms of horse riding in New South Wales (NSW) for the period 1976-1996. Other aims of the present study were to compare and contrast ASCI with vertebral column injuries (VCI) without neurological damage and to define appropriate safety measures in relation to spinal injury in horse-riding. DESIGN: A retrospective review was done of all ASCI cases (n = 32) admitted to the two acute spinal cord injury units in NSW for the cited period. A comparable review of VCI cases (n = 30) admitted to these centres for the period 1987-1995 was also undertaken. RESULTS: A fall in flight was the commonest mode of injury in both groups. Occupational and leisure riding accounted for 88% of ASCI and VCI. The incidence of ASCI is very low in those riding under the aegis of the Equestrian Federation of Australia - two cases in 21 years; and there were no cases in the Pony Club Riders or in Riding for the Disabled. The difference in the spinal damage caused by ASCI and VCI is in degree rather than kind. Associated appendicular/visceral injuries were common. CONCLUSIONS: No measures were defined to improve spinal safety in any form of horse riding. The possible role of body protectors warrants formal evaluation. Continued safety education for all horse riders is strongly recommended. Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery, the Royal North Shore Hospital, Departments of Surgery and Public Health and Community Medicine, the University of Sydney and The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Prince Henry/Prince of Wales Hospital, Little Bay, New South Wales, Australia.