When we get on horses we immediately accept the risks that come with it. Everyone hears all the horror stories. Many of us have seen them. New advances in technology allow us to be safer, but that still doesn’t guarantee that you will survive a tragic fall.
Think back to the last big fall you remember- Karen O’Connor at Morven (Karen was seriously injured and has withdrawn from the world of eventing. She hopes to continue her career as a show jumper but can no longer turn her head from side to side.) Andrea Leatherman at Ocala Horse Properties (sustained a punctured lung and a concussion from a rotational fall. Her air vest saved her life) Caitlin Siliman at Windurra (Caitlin fell and sustained injuries just below her helmet. She was out of action for quite a while)
Technology in helmets, xc vests, and air vests have saved many of our favourite eventer’s lives more than once. But is this adrenaline filled sport worth the risks? Yes, we love the horses and the cross country but are we willing to risk our lives for the one thing that makes us the happiest people In the world? How do we try and ensure our safety as much as possible?
This subject truly hit home when my boss had a mishap while riding the other day resulting in broken jaw. Her jaw will be wired shut for six weeks (that way she can’t yell at me anymore!) and she has to drink out of a straw exclusively. As terrible as it sounds it just reminds you of how quickly things can take a turn for the worse.
Now I’m not advising any of you to stop riding! Actually the opposite! I think every rider should take the proper precautions while riding so they can avoid tragedies. Such as:
- Helmets are a must- not buts about it!
- Always purchase a well fitting xc vest- proper fit is KEY
- Buy an air vest – yes, they can be pricey but you can’t put a price on a life!
- Don’t ride unless you feel comfortable- I’m not saying bow out on every big jump! But don’t ride under dangerous conditions, on a horse you’re not ready for, or at night when you can’t see.
- Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride- The more you ride the more comfortable you are on a horses back
- Allow your horse proper turn out- At our farm all hot horses must be hacked or turned out before we ride them.
- Make smart decisions
- Try your air vest out before you use it! (This one is KEY)- I had a horrible incident with falling with mine and I was afraid to wear it for a long time. It sounds like a gunshot and it hurt too!
- Be careful about your airvest going off- I’ve seen many a horse spook at an air vest going off and for this reason Kate and I don’t wear ours on babies. But this one is by your own discretion
Be safe out there!