Riders4Helmets

Riders4Helmets
I wanted to write about this today because I think tomorrow's going to be crazy busy.  Yay!

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  Honest.  I've got personal investments in helmet-wearing.  I get twitchy when I see people on horses without helmets.  Or bikes.  Yeah, bikes make me nervous, too.

I think I've said before, but I'm not an awesome rider.  I'm awesome with my Kid, but damn if we don't have a great relationship.  That makes up for a lot of my lacking skills.  But this is a key point, because my riding skills had nothing to do with my helmet wearing.  It just makes it interesting that the situation happened at all.

When I rode for Augusta State University's Equestrian Team (President!), I was actually taking lessons.  This hasn't happened often because I'm generally poor as shit.  But somehow, I guess I was working a bajillion jobs, maxing credit cards and working at the barn, I was able to take lessons at this point in time.  This was.. 2004/2005?  Around then.  This was when I rode Duke, the Selle Francais that stole and then broke my heart. Requiescat in pace, big guy.

I took lessons under two different trainers.  The trainer for this lesson I didn't much care for.  She was good, but she was pushy and bitchy and conflicting - which, I guess, all the greats tend to be.  Anyways, I had my lesson on Duke and was finishing up all that post-ride stuff when one of the other students found me and told me that my trainer had requested I hop on another horse.

I went out to the ring to see what was going on.  I'd seen someone come in with a trailer, but a lot of people trailered in to take lessons with this lady.  No big deal.  The horse was actually a fancy little Connemara mare.  Gray.  Dappled.  Gracie, maybe?  She was on trial with another rider.  The other rider was currently in the ring on her, warming her up for me.  I guess, at the time, I was a better rider than the lady who wanted to buy the mare.  But I wasn't the best rider in the barn, so I'm not sure why the trainer asked for me.  Maybe because I was nearest in body structure and riding style to the potential owner?  Regardless, she asked for me.

After the potential owner had warmed the mare up, she dismounted.  We didn't have a mounting block in the ring at this time, so I mounted from the ground and she held the stirrup on the right side.  I proceeded to ask the mare to trot and did a few crossrails to get a feel for her.  As we went to the outside line of verticals, I remember asking her to trot in and canter out.  She jumped fine.  I've never been good with ponies, though, because I feel incredibly uncomfortable without a neck in front of me.  I remember that we finished the line and I shifted my weight in the outside stirrup.  Was she bulging?  Was I trying to get her to bend?  What was I doing?

The saddle gave.

My next memory is in the emergency room.

What I've pieced together:  I never felt the saddle give when I mounted, so I never checked the girth.  I shifted my weight through that turn and the saddle moved with me.  Brief glimpses eventually came to me, months later.  The mare galloping on the far side of the ring with the saddle flapping underneath her.  On my hands and knees in the sand, my head screaming, taking off my helmet.  Sand in my helmet.  Climbing the fence of the ring.  Crying.  My ex-fiancé was with me, but we were in my car.  A manual, which he couldn't drive.  That didn't matter, though, because I didn't know who he was and I wasn't going to let him into my car.  I finally conceded and I drove us to the emergency room.  That's where I "came to."

I remember the pain.  Slapping the doctor's hands.  I'd landed on the small of my back and cracked my head into the sand.  I'd nearly broken my back.  I'd actually bruised the bone, which, prior to this, I hadn't realized was even possible.  I was having muscle spasms and couldn't stand upright.  I had a concussion and temporary amnesia.  I had radiographs and scans.  My ex told me that during the drive, I asked the same five questions over and over.  They were all about Duke, my lesson with Duke, and what happened.  I didn't remember riding the pony.  I still don't, mostly.

I have memory issues.  I tell people the same things repeatedly.  I have a hard time remembering names.  I take a lot of notes.  I have arthritis in my lower spine and some mornings are more excruciating than others.

Here are the key points:
  • It was a PONY, which means that I fell a max of four and a half feet... onto a comfortable layer of sand.
  • I did nothing wrong and the pony did nothing wrong; it was a freak accident. 
  • If I got a concussion from falling four and a half feet into sand while wearing a helmet, what would have happened if I hadn't been wearing my helmet?



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3 comments

  1. I got a concussion once, holding a horse for the vet, passed out from him cutting the horses eyelid and squeezing fly eggs out, hit the cement barn floor... yeah I should wear a helmet all day!

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    1. Oh, I love gross stuff like that! I had to hold my barn owner's horse while the farrier cut a chunk out of his hoof. She had to walk away before she barfed. I haven't seen too much gross horse stuff, but a whole lot of small animal nastiness.

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    2. Blood doesn't bother me or gore. But maggots and stuff with eyes I have issues with. I think it has something to do with taking a chunk of my own eye out with my thumb when I was 5. eyes are amazing though and heal quickly!

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