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Saved by my Helmet - Horse Fell by Dawn

In April 2002 my then-16 year old Arabian gelding Chivas and I were almost halfway through a 50 mile endurance ride in north central Texas. While flying along at a fast extended trot, Chivas suddenly seemed to stumble. By the time I realized it was more than a stumble (turns out he'd stepped in a hole hidden in some grass), and that we were both headed for the ground, I barely had time to push off from his neck in an attempt to land as far from him as possible, in the hope that he would not fall on me (he missed me). I hit the ground head first, midway between the top of my head and my forehead. I came to rest on my face. I rolled over carefully, with my neck hurting pretty bad. Another rider had been with me, and saw the fall. I decided to lie still in case I'd injured my neck...the other rider got my horse, who thankfully was ok. My face immediately began to swell, and in no time my right eye was swollen shut and I couldn't breathe through my nose. Turns out that after my head hit, my right cheekbone hit the hard ground. To make a long story short, I got an ambulance ride to the ER, where they found that my neck was ok, but a CT scan revealed that I'd broken my right eye socket when my cheekbone hit the ground. As for my head? No pain, no concussion, nothing. My helmet didn't fare so was totally caved in where we hit, and split in half down the middle. I hate to think of what would have happened had I not been wearing one...a bad concussion at least, and probably a LOT worse. Wear those helmets, folks...most endurance riders do, but not all. And I still cringe when I see casual trail riders, especially families with children, going down the trail with no helmets. No matter how bombproof a horse is, "stuff" happens. And ANY horse can trip and fall.

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