helmet saved my life while carriage driving by kathleen
John Henry, my mule, and I were walking down a country road hitched to my road cart with a girlfriend riding her TB mare on my right. We heard a car come up behind and my friend said "car" and we both moved over on this 2 lane country road with houses on both sides.
The next thing I knew my entire cart seat had rotated on the axel and the seat back was on the ground and John Henry was bolting forward and bucking a little. I was still sitting in the seat and had the reins...this is a good thing! Anyway, by pure instinct I pulled on my left rein and circled John Henry in a yard on the left - all I could see was the bottom of his feet and the underside of his stomach. It was lucky that this house is new construction and the usual roadside drainage ditch had been upgraded with a culvert pipe buried the entire width of the yard road frontage. This meant that JH just was able to bolt and buck his way into the front yard and when I got him stopped we were both still together and he idn't have to jump a ditch.
I rolled out on to the lawn and quickly went to JH's head and talked to him - he was shaking and ready to bolt again. I looked for my girlfriend and she was on the ground on the other side of the road and had hit her head on an old stump. Her horse had vaporized - I couldn't see her anywhere. By this time people were coming out of houses and surrounding my girlfriend and I was yelling for help. A nice young man came and stood in front of JH while I unhitched.
BTW, none of my zilco harness broke which probably meant that we had a good outcome. My road cart was broken in half where the shafts bend by the dash. The car rear ended us with such force that between the harness and JH's back holding the shafts in place the force of the collision made the shafts bend upward and they broke like 2 pistol shots in the night. This enabled the seat to rotate on the axel and I hit my head on the top of the car. After JH pulled us off the car he went forward and bolted for no more than 20 steps but the seat I was still sitting in rotated all the way to the ground where my head was draging on the pavement. THANK GOD I had an up-to-date approved helmet on or I would either be dead or a vegetable.
My girlfriend [also in a helmet] was taken to the hospital but came home later and seems fine. Her horse [TB mare] was hit by my cart wheel high up on her hip and was very lame at the scene. A nice rescue squad person had found her and brought her back. With the help of all the people at the scene my trailer was fetched and we loaded both equines and took them back to my barn where I called a vet. JH seems fine but the TB is in need of TLC - she should be ok too. On reflection I called my horse chiropractor for JH because of all the force that must have been transmitted to his back in the crash.
My cart was fire wood - it's only wood - thank goodness my friend was OK and our equines look like they are going to be fine too.
My trainer came over 2 days later to hitch up with me. I rode JH the next day on the same road to see if he was still OK in traffic but I really wanted my trainer for the first time I hitched and went in traffic.
The person that hit us was a little old lady who lived on the same road. She was devastated at the scene but unhurt. She called me that night and told me that the sun was in her eyes and she was adjusting her visor and just didn't see us...the road was very straight with great sight distance and it was the middle of the afternoon. Both my friend and i work for state government and had the day off for Veteran's Day and were taking advantage of the wonderful crisp fall day with a bright blue sky.
Thank goodness everything turned out OK - it could have been much, much worse.
WEAR YOUR HELMET when riding or driving ANYWHERE!
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