Helmet safety by Sarah
I was riding in my instructors paddocks with friends of mine, everything was perfect, clear blue spring day, perfect temperature, great friends and best of all, the sweetest old horse you can imagine. We had been riding and having fun for several hours before we decided to come back to the stable. On the way back, we chose a different route, one that ended us up in a tight corner and on a steep hill just below the stable grounds. I was about 2 places behind the first rider when she opened the gate from horseback. When it was my turn to go through the gate, I didn't realise that it wasn't open wide enough for the bigger horse and being an invincible teenager, I didn't stop to open it wider or get off. As I was going through, my stirrup got caught on the latch which secures the gate shut, I just assumed my horse was being naughty as he wouldn't move forward (Yet more proof horses are smarter than humans). He felt the drag on his saddle, did the smart thing and stoped. I told him to go forward numerous times before he gave in and went. He pulled and pulled at my insistance, being a 600kg horse, it didn't take much. As the stirrup gave, my horse was sling-shotted forward. And ended up bucking up the hill. I came off after the second or third buck I think and my head landed on a rock. My friends looked after my horse for me and called my mother to come and take me to the hospital. Fortunatly I had only a minor concussion, but my helmet had a nice dent in it. My saddle on the other hand was practically destroyed. As I figured out, the stirrup leather didn't give to the horse's strength (it was still hanging on the latch when I came back out later that week, my friends thought I should see where it was), but the connection to the saddle did. It turns out, when the repairer opened the saddle up to fix the stirrup bar, the tree of my saddle had also broken by the force. I still have that helmet and that saddle (Obviously not in use anymore). Every time I look in my tack room to get another peice of tack, I see those two items and realise that if I didn't have such a sweet horse who inevitably took great care of me, as he didn't panic, or a good helmet, I probably wouldn't be riding or possibly even walking today. They are the best reminder an *invincible* teenager can have to be careful and wear a helmet. 5 years later and I have never not worn a helmet, and have constantly tried (sometimes in vain) to get others to do the same. Thank you Jessica for making others aware and helping to change the way they think and for the help you have given me through your newsletters.
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