Ground Safety Skills Among North Carolina 4-H Horse Program Participants

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Title: Ground Safety Skills Among North Carolina 4-H Horse Program Participants
Author: Beck, Courtney Hathaway
Advisors: Jim Flowers, Committee Member
John Rayfield, Committee Chair
David Jones, Committee Member
Abstract: Horses play a large role in the economic and recreational lives of many Americans. However, there are inherent risks associated with horse activities. According to the Children’s Safety Network (2005), one in three equestrian-related injuries occur while dismounted. Despite this risk, the topic of horse ground safety has been neglected in both extension and agricultural education research. The objectives of this study were to benchmark the current level of horse ground safety skills among participants in the North Carolina 4-H Horse Program and to determine if background factors affected safety skills. By understanding more about the current level of horse ground safety, programming can be developed to address the weaknesses and increase the safety of this sport. The sample for this study (N=63) was drawn from attendants of the 2007 North Carolina 4-H Horsemanship Camp, held in June. Participating campers completed the researcher-developed questionnaire which consisted of 21 questions. The purpose of this form was to collect information about the campers’ horse and 4-H background. Immediately following completion of the demographic form, the campers completed a skills test. The skills test was broken into three sections (stall safety, leading safety, and grooming safety), and each section was scored by trained horse industry specialists. The stall skills section had the highest mean score, followed by the grooming skills section then the leading skills section. Scores in all three sections were found to be less than acceptable. Of the background factors investigated, three were found to lead to significant differences in safety scores: owning a horse, ever taken riding lessons, and currently taking lessons. The background factors investigated that did not lead to higher safety scores were riding discipline and participation in 4-H Horse Program activities other than 4-H Horsemanship Camp. The researcher concluded that campers who participated in this study received safety scores that were lower than desirable, and that owning horses or taking riding positively influenced ground safety scores. The researcher proposed the following recommendations: young equestrians need formal instruction on ground safety, emphasize the educational benefits of participation in 4-H horse shows events as they relate to ground safety, evaluate youth horse programming to ensure it is meeting their educational needs and learning capabilities, and parents would benefit from ground safety training.
Date: 2008-11-18
Degree: MS
Discipline: Extension Education

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