Three accidents in two years and lessons learned by Jonnie
I grew up without helmets, and had my share of wrecks on horses, as I would ride anything that came my way. I learned to tuck and roll when I came off and just roll onto my feet and keep moving. I never hit my head, nor did I think I ever would.
Years have passed, and I am now a mother to older children, one in college, and wife, rancher, trainer, and slower then I was back when life had no consequences to my actions of killing myself on a horse.
With in the last two years my rider's helmet has saved me in three accidents. The first two were Wild Mustangs I was training, and those I account for being green and reactive. The last one was by all accounts never going to happen to me, and I would of bet my life on it, glad I didn't.
I am saving my retired helmet, to show my future students, young and old, why wearing one in so important. The tell-tell crack on my helmet is located at the base of the back of the helmet, near my neck base. Which is a very dangerous place to have a rock hit your head. Yes, a rock. I was riding at our local County Fair, I was riding in the warm up arena, one that is suppose to be safe and well groomed. I was warming up for a class, and dressed up and getting ready to ride my well trained, and well known Pony Stallion, he has never ever bucked in all these years of riding and even in the most crazy of atmosphere, yet that day he went nuts on me. Why he did is still not clear, but what is clear was he went into some sort of wild bucking spree, and that I came off, I usually move pretty fast, and know several safe ways to dismount fast, and my ponies and horses are trained to allow those dismounts. When I knew I was going to go head first over his head, I tried to grab for his neck he stopped instinctively and back up just one step, leaving me with a arm full of air, and the ground below. I tried to duck and roll, but at my age the reactions are slower and with a pony the ground comes up quicker. A good sized rock from no where was right where my head landed. Another rock was right were my vertebras connect with my hips. I was dazed and shocked, as I rolled over and stood up. My sweet adorable Stallion was standing there looking at me like " Why are you there?" He was so calm and so sweet walking beside me as I exited the arena on foot. I was in pain, but just in my hips and I had no idea about the rock that had cracked my helmet. The rock my back landed on was large and flat, (thank you God) and only left a huge black bruise on my back and some stiffness to my walk for a few days. It wasn't until I was starting to feel dizzy and sick to my stomach about twenty minutes later, that I recognized the concussion warning signs ( I have had them before ). I decided not to participate in the Fair classes, something I had worked all summer to do on several ponies, and asked that my helmet be put away in the trailer. That is when my youngest Daughter goes" Hey when did this happen?", the group I teach and my family were all there at the stalls, and there wasn't one word spoken in the group, only the stares as my daughter turned the helmet around for me to view the damage. The looks at one another in silence said it all. No one here at this facility or in this family will ever go without a helmet, and they go on as soon as the horse is tied to the rails to be groomed or cleaned. And do not go off until the horse is totally untacked and being put away. You will never know what, when, whom, or why things happen, even with the safest, stillest, calmest, and most trained horse or pony you have can have something go wrong. We always were helmets around the green ones, but now have stepped up the rule to the reliable ones as well.
Why take chances, we only have to take a few minutes to protect our life, or the quality of life we have. We can not predict our animals behaviors or control everything around us every minute. The fact is stuff happens, be prepared.
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