On March 22 2009 I had an accident that has since changed my life, without my helmet on that day I would probably be in a lot worse condition then I am now.
I was eventing my new horse Pohlands Vanity Faire for the first time, I had practiced all sorts of cross country jumps, to prepare for the event, including water jumps, entering and leaving water obstacles.
I was confident in my mare, she was bold and confident. The water obstacle was later on in the course and I remember feeling how awesome my horse felt, I made a decision to enter the water obstacle at a collected canter, which was a mistake on my behalf, and should have come down to a trot or walk, but I didn’t expect for a minute that my horse would stop.
I was confidently cantering towards the water obstacle when half a stride out she slammed on brakes, and she did it fast and hard. I had no time to react and fell forward over her head and neck and landed head first in the water obstacle (luckily it was pretty shallow!)
I don’t remember anything from there until I reached the hospital. The first thing I remember was I was lying in a bed strapped to a board, not being able to move my head and neck.
I was scared!
I was x-rayed many times to determine my injuries, and was very lucky to walk out that night with a neck brace on. I have severe muscle damage on either side of my spine, which runs from my neck all the way down my spine. I have received treatment, but to this day I suffer from tight muscles that never release, which has in turn affected my vertebrae to sit on top of each other with no support. I now have arthritis in my neck at the age of 26. I receive treatment of Electric Muscle Stimulation, traction and physical therapy 2 to 3 times a week. This has helped a lot, but will never heal me completely. I suffer from severe headaches at least once a week, but at the same time I am so grateful that I could still do what I love. Two months later I did my next eventing competition. I was nervous. There was no water obstacle included in the course, but the thought of what happened still haunted me. I made it round the cross country course clear. I was so emotional from the nerves. I climbed off my horse and cried for joy! The horse community is so strong, people were coming up to me and hugging me with excitement that I had made it round safely!
I was extremely lucky that day. I still have the helmet (NOT IN USE) it is reminder of that day. It’s cracked and could very easily be pushed in half.
I am thankful that I was wearing a quality helmet that properly secured.
I never ride without a helmet on now, not even walking down to the arena. I try encourage my barn friends (lots who don’t wear helmets) to ride with them on. You just never know when something is going to happen!
- Kerry Lammerding