Another entry for the February Helmet Story Contest. Please submit your entry no later than February 29th, 2012 (must be a minimum of 500 words AND include a photo) for your chance to win a Riders4Helmets Saddle Pad (your choice of AP, Dressage or Western) and a $50 Equestrian Collections gift certificate. Good Luck!
I have been a big proponent of riding in helmets since I started with horses again after a 20 year break. When we were kids we never used helmets as they were “for English” and in our county only the rich kids could afford to ride English. Even when I saved all my pennies and bought a very used English saddle my parents said no because the outfit, helmet and boots were too expensive.
After getting out of horses for the usual reasons of college and career I finally got another horse 8 years ago. IN the meantime I had taken up mountain climbing and bicycling and had a very bad accident on the bike where the helmet saved my life. Once I started riding again I learned that I was more fearful as an adult than I had been as a child so a helmet seemed like a good idea.
Well this weekend I am sure it saved me from at least more stitches if not my life.
My sister, brother-in-law, nephew and I were riding on a wonderful ride in the Gifford Pinchot national forest to Tarbell Mt. There were no other riders to be seen only a couple of Mt. Bike tracks. WE rode to Hidden Falls then turned to go back. I was riding my 7 year old Haflinger pony. She is usually so stalwart and trustworthy. She doesn’t like to lead and usually we ride last as she has to trot every few minutes to catch up with the other horses. When we were about 3 miles from camp without incident she looked over to the right, I looked to see what she was looking at and suddenly she lurched forward.
I wasn’t expecting this as she never shies, and it was forward so I just came off the back of the saddle, my boot came off the right foot and when I landed I felt relief that I didn’t seem to be hurt. But what I didn’t know until after was that my left foot was still stuck in the stirrup! It must have scared her even more so just as I was sitting up she let loose a kick that connected full on with my forehead and my helmet.
I can still feel the percussion of the full hoof mark on my face. Of course it started bleeding right away and of course my medical kit did not have any cotton in it at all! An alpaca glove and my 12 year old nephews shirt had to act as a pressure bandage after my sister slipped a flap of my face back in place. They tried to get me to ride the pony out but my face hurt so bad I knew there was no way, I started walking and we came to a logging road that my sister and her husband recognized as one they could drive up. My nephew and I waited while they rode back and brought the truck and trailer up for us. It was a long, cold, painful wait as you can imagine. It took us another hour to get the horses loaded and drive home and get to the hospital. 13 stitches and lots of x-rays later I got to go home. I still can’t believe how lucky I was.
The next day I looked at my helmet and the entire front brim was shattered. There were many other radiating cracks. The helmet had not moved off my head or out of place with the fall or the kick. I have taken a lot of flack the last 8 years for always wearing a helmet on the trail, in the arena and even in shows. Now even my sister has asked for a helmet for her birthday and my nephew is changing his 4-H Public Presentation about helmets and trail safety.