My fourteen-year-old daughter, Tracy, and I were attending the Westbrook Farms Benefit Horse Show in Kinross, Michigan: a wonderful show whose proceeds help handicapped riders in our area. It was a misty day, and Tracy was riding an unfamiliar pony. She’d begun her course before she saw there were people with umbrellas at the end of the arena. Of course the pony had seen them and begun to buck and dance.
Tracy did her courtesy circle and jumped the first jump. But when they landed, the pony stopped dead, tucked her head, and tossed Tracy to the ground, directly on her head–which, thank heaven, was in the mandatory ASTM/SEI-approved helmet with chin strap fastened properly.
When I reached her, Tracy was gasping for breath. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital–where, blessedly, except for some muscle swelling along her spine, she checked out in fine shape. With the emergency-room doctor’s OK, she walked back out on her own two feet. She returned to the show and a warm greeting from her friends, giggling in part excitement and part relief.
Just hours after the accident, Tracy was back on her trusted regular mount, Cheyenne, an American Bashkir Curly horse, to finish the show. She won the Grand Champion title!
Thanks to that ASTM/SEI helmet, we are all winners that day. So to any rider who chooses not to wear a helmet because it’s “uncool,” Tracy and I say, “Please think again. Otherwise, one day you may have a similar story to tell, but with a much different ending.”
From: Practical Horseman, January 2001