At least 12,000 a year by the European Union’s accountant-based statistics agency, Eurostat — almost 10 times the industry consensus in 2008, when the number was estimated at 6,000 deaths per year.
The number is the high-water mark in terms of the number of horses involved in racing in the EU, but it also represents a serious underestimate of the true scale of death and injury in horse racing. As an example of the extent of the problem, the Eurostat figures show that 6 percent more horses died than would have been expected because of injuries in the same period in 2001 because:
• More horse-racing accidents are reported to Eurostat than have actually happened.
• Fatal injuries that have been reported by accident control systems (ECS), rather than to doctors or ambulance services, are underestimated.
• The number of race horses treated for injuries in emergency departments in 2002 was inflated by the fact that a fraction of patients are treated and discharged by ECSs and their casualty reports.
• The number of racing licences has fallen by 20 percent since 1995, even though the number of horses in racing has risen.
What is the Eurostat statistics on horse-racing injuries?
Eurostat collects and monitors statistics on every accident reported by the ECSs of the 27 European countries whose citizens ride horses. It also monitors deaths reported by ECSs.
The statistics are used to monitor the use of ECSs at all levels of racing and of ECS services, such as accident control centres. The data is used as the only measure of how well ECSs are performing.
A further important source of the statistical data are ECS reports from doctors, ambulance officers and racehorse veterinarians, who are members of ECS organisations and are therefore involved in every race. Many ECS accident reports reflect only minor injuries — bruises.
Eurostat’s figures on the annual number of horses killed or seriously injured in horse racing and ECSs are different. The horses dying or needing emergency treatment are counted in Eurostat, but the ECS figures are not. In the event of an accident involving a horse, Eurostat only records injuries. But as the horse’s owner or rider is not included, it only counts the deaths that a horse in the race would have sustained if the accident did not occur. So the ECS figures have only a limited range of information to work with.
What counts as an incident in horse
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