View Full Version : Another helmet motivator

Jan. 15, 2011, 03:09 PM
Well every horse riders nightmare happened to me a week ago today. I was walking my horse out in the field when he all of a sudden freaked out. I've never felt anything like it. While full speed we were ramming the horse and rider next to us and I didn't feel I could safely remove myself without falling under the other horse. I remember thinking run him into a tree or he's going to kill himself. That's the last thing I remember. I was found under a tree with a broken nose, and a broken neck. I guess I did find a tree to stop myself just not the horse with. I crushed my first vertebrae and fractured my second in multiple places. In the hospital I was told I had the same injury as Christopher Reeves. Which terrified me. By some miracle, I am not paralyzed. I'm in a lot of pain, but I can slowly walk and am expected to make a full recovery. There was a lot of talk about safety factors while there and I decided I wanted to share my story. I know Ive always thought "that'll never happen to me." They showed me my helmet, it took a lot of the force. My doctor said if I had not had that helmet on, I would have been killed instantly. Thank you Charles Owen. This also made me think about airvest. Im a lower level rider and I always said, it's stupid for lower level riders to wear vest, and the cost is crazy. How stupid is it to think like that. The cost of your health and your life is UNMEASURABLE. And I was just walking when my accident happened. I don't know in my situation if the vest would have prevented my broken neck or not bc I can't remember if I was on or off the horse when I hit the tree. But Ill tell you this. If I get back on a horse, (which I know I will, but the family doesn't want to hear right now) I will be investing in an airvest. And I might look like a dork wearing it at the lower levels and when hacking out but my life is worth a whole heck of a lot more than $600 bucks.

Just thought I'd share my story so that it might help remind people when they are contemplating wearing a helmet or not. I keep reliving it while stuck in bed and thought I'd start a discussion.

Jan. 15, 2011, 04:12 PM
You are very lucky!!!

and you won't look like a dork.

We all need to step on that notion, hard.

You won't look like a dork in a vest, in a helmet, in any good safety gear, doing anything on a horse.

Best of luck in your recovery!!!

Jan. 15, 2011, 04:40 PM
Very scary, glad things were not worse for you. Bravo for posting your story, sometimes our love for our horses ( and our own egos ) blinds us to the fact that they can be very unpredictable and dangerous animals. For the life of me, I do NOT understand people who wear hunt caps at shows and/or do not wear helmets at all when mounted.

Jan. 15, 2011, 09:08 PM
Good to hear that you're recovering.

The air vest would have had no effect whatsoever on your broken neck. It simply does not offer that type of protection.

Jan. 15, 2011, 09:28 PM
Where's the little icon for "gives me goosebumps".

Speedy recovery to you.

Jan. 15, 2011, 09:43 PM
Wow. Gives me goosebumps, too. I broke c-7 in about 8 pieces 10 years ago, suffered some nerve damage but no spinal cord damage. I'm so glad your spinal cord is intact! It was a car accident but my family is still not happy when I jump or do more dangerous horse sports, especially since they increase my pain.
Recently, my horse blew-up right after I mounted due to a perfect storm situation and I thought I was a goner, managed to stay on. I'm still a little shaken up and have been taking it a little cautiously when I get on him lately. I'm sure I'll get over it soon, I'm usually pretty fearless.
Good luck healing, it's a long but rewarding journey. Do your PT, walking,yoga, swimming and pilates as soon as they let you. Exercise bike too.
I totally feel your pain. Jingles!

Jan. 15, 2011, 09:58 PM
Wow!! I'm so glad you are okay!!! Please take it easy and get better soon!

And yep... I will be another one that won't think you look like a dork!! Better safe than sorry!

I hope your recovery goes well!!! And I know RFI will post on here soon and give you some encouragement as she went through the very same thing. (I think anyways...).

Stay safe!!

Jan. 15, 2011, 10:05 PM
Thanks for sharing your story. I never look down on anyone wearing safety equipment, period.

I'm so glad you are going to be ok, and that your spinal cord is still with you! Gah, scary stuff.

Jan. 16, 2011, 11:38 AM
First, I am so grateful you are going to make a great recovery; scary, scary business these broken necks. Hope you have a neurologist who will answer questions (and you will have plenty) about general stuff as well as riding.

Last Dec 26th (2010), I was bucked off my horse - he spooked, bucked, I grabbed him in the mouth, he bucked BIG TIME and I did a rotational fall right onto my head. Same injury as yours, C2 broken in 3 places, hairline in the C1. No paralysis and I healed in time. After 5 days in ICU, the doctors decided to put me in a halo despite my (um - cough cough) advanced age (was about to be 60)...was in the damn thing right at 17 weeks, but came out fine. Am now riding and running again...but taking things very, very slowly.

I'll be happy to PM or post here if you need an ear that's "been there" - someone else on COTH did the same for me all those long, long days, weeks, and months...and kept my spirits up and my attitude going forward.

My best wishes are already going out to you!!!

Lynda :cool:

Jan. 16, 2011, 11:51 AM
Its nice to hear others stories. How did your family handle you going back to riding? I know it's only been a week and I should not have started the "Im going to ride again" conversation so soon with my family. But it's all I can think of. I miss my horses so much. Im only 29 years old, I can't imagine never riding again. I know Im so lucky that Im not paralyzed but as a horse person, if I never ride again its as if I am paralyzed. My non horsey family does not understand that. And I know they are going through a lot. Sometimes I think its harder for them watching me go through this, than for me myself to go through it. The gelding I fell off is 4, I just got him off the track last April and he is my dream. I finally braved up to start taking lessons with my idol trainers and to allow myself to think most my riding dreams were possible. My mare was retired with a SI injury and I had so many "I wish I had done _____" moments, that with him I wanted to say I had done everything i wanted to do. The other big issue is that I own my own dance studio and this injury is obviously making work quite impossible. So I think that adds another extreme to the situation. I just worry they will never understand that I live and breathe these creatures. Every time I closed my eyes in the hospital I imagined the feel of my horses. They are what have got me through so many things and definitely through all the pain.
Sorry for the long sob story. I don't think I can have this conversation out loud with any of my horse friends without losing it, but I had to get it out. It's still so early in my recovery and emotions are so strong right now, hopefully this conversation with my family will be better down the road. Thanks for listening!


Jan. 16, 2011, 12:06 PM

You know your family and how much you can possibly expect them to absorb right now - broken necks are lethal and that's likely all they can deal with at the moment...in my case, all my family are athletes, though completely nonhorse people - my children, brothers, sister...I do have several cousins who ride, but that's it. I was adamant that I would ride again and while still in ICU explained to my very loving, very distraught husband that I wanted to send Rasta to Lellie Ward while I couldn't ride. We are far from wealthy - I am a public school teacher and Billy is retired. The economic downswing hit his retirement fund bigtime. Still, without batting an eye, he agreed - of course, I thought I'd be riding again as soon as I came out of the halo - not so. What we thought would be 4 months of training board was extended to 11 months...and worth every single penny. Lellie is bringing me back into riding slowly, systematically, and as safely as she can. She put all the buttons on Rasta, and now is teaching them to me. He also came off the track and is sane, but very much a track horse. Like you, I love him completely. Right now though, Lellie is my security blanket, my very staunch friend in going forward...and my family trusts her decisions. It scares them that I'm riding, but they know at soon to be 61, I know what I need...

So, take your time in measuring out what you say to your family. You can vent and whine and cry and cheer here on COTH. I would never have made it without my COTH friends.

We're here for you. :) :yes: :cool:

Jan. 16, 2011, 03:00 PM
...the content of our work is much different but at the same time, we teach! I broke my neck on 12/26/09 and went back to work - halo and all - 1/25/10, 4 weeks after the accident. Teaching first grade is never easy (I always say that my babies help keep me in shape :lol:), but I wasn't prepared for how exhausted I would be by 11:00 that first week. Little by little, things improved, although I would retire to my favorite chair as soon as I finished my afternoon walk, and sleep for a couple of hours.

Maybe you can do something similar...but give yourself time at home before even thinking about returning to your studio. I forgot to ask - are you in a halo or a neck brace? Did you have surgery?

I'm sorry to hear you're in pain...talk with your doctor about better pain meds. You don't want to be doped up all the time, but pain shouldn't be a part of the equation right now either.


Jan. 16, 2011, 03:19 PM
Thankfully I am not in a halo. I did not have surgery. They are keeping a close eye on it as one of the vertebrae is close to an artery. They are re xraying this week to check that it hasn't moved anymore, but it is doubtful that it will since it hasn't so far. So they think the best option is to let it heal on it's own. Hopefully I will keep surprising them with a fast recovery. The neurosurgeon just shakes his head and continues to remind me that it's a miracle Im walking. Yesterday would have been a week for me. I was hoping to teach from a chair tomorrow but it's crazy how the smallest things exhaust me. Im not good at sitting around..... Im going to try to go to work for about an hour tomorrow. It's hard when your business is on yours and yours only shoulder. I teach all classes myself. Luckily I have a working student (just like a barn one!) who is taking care of things while Im not there and is going to be my "body" when I can. It's good to hear other people's experiences. I appreciate you sharing your stories.

Jan. 17, 2011, 09:59 AM
OMG, you girls are making me weep. Hayley, be good to yourself....remember, the rest you take now will pay off in the end. You have a great mentor here in RFI. Good healing.....:sadsmile: