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12 y.o. killed while riding a motorcycle - yes, HR

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  • 12 y.o. killed while riding a motorcycle - yes, HR

    I read the following article on the Toronto Star website, and found it interesting, and relevant to the equestrian community. I grew up in a family where we had ponies of the four-letter word variety; my first lessons were on ASBs, and my first almost-horse was a little palomino mare who taught me so many lessons about respect, heart and friendship. As an adult, on- and off-track TBs have become an integral part of my life.
    I am the little girl who drew horses on everything - that child is still alive and well inside of me. Say the word "horse" and you won't shut me up for at least the next hour, if you're lucky. In other words, they are not a passing fancy - they are part of the fabric of my life.
    Read the following article, and substitute the word "horse" for motorcycle. How would your life, as an equestrian(ne) be different had you our your family agreed with the writer's philosophy?
    I am by no means saying that he doesn't bring up some valid points - I am a firm believer in helmets and proper footgear, and in good horses...but how would your development as a rider / horseman have changed had you waited until you were"mature enough" to understand what you were getting into. I am not going to bring in the analogy that the young man may have been overmounted on his bike...I am more thinking about the idea that we shouldn't expose children to the "risk" of horses before they can decide for themselves.
    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
    Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

  • #2
    I am very sorry for that family, and obviously for the writer who, as most of us, sees a story like this and tries to estimate the risk to his own family. I disagree with him but I agree with feeling scared and wanting to keep my family safe.

    I am glad my family let me ski (very dangerous and people do die), ride horses, swim, backpack and all that, all potentially dangerous. Other than whenI was jumping I never wore a helmet.Isat on my pony BAREFOOT readinga book while he grazed!!!! (my family would NOT have tolerated that,had they known but it sure happened)

    We all have to estimate risk and decide the level with which we are comfortable, including the level to hwich we expose our families. I feel bad for this author's family and agree with the OP - you gotta live at some point! And teach your children to live as well. I will say I hate it when people say "he died doing what he loved".....I mean, I love horses but sure don't wwant to DIE doing something horse related! That does not bring me much comfort when I hear that!!

    Interesting article though, OP and definitely HR!


    • #3
      Heavy discussion prior to my 3rd cup of java. I disagree, to some extent with the writer's resonse to the family saying the child was doing what he loved and the writer said something about "he was trained to love" or something of that nature.

      My 5 year old daughter LOVES horses. She was not trained to love them in the sense of I made/make her ride. I have them at home, she loves to be around them and ride.
      My responsibilty as her parent is to make certain she has the tools to deal with it. At 5, in our case, that is: a suitable pony, hawk eye supervision, appropriate activities for her level, and not allowing her to be overfaced. Parental judgement comes in to play. I know the risks, she is 5. I minimize the risk every time by making certain we have the proper tools (helment, lunge line, proper attire etc).

      She wants to do gymnastics, too. That is a risk. Some kids are flipping around that balance beam etc. Potentially dangerous. We go ice skating, she wears a helmet My brother takes her fishing on his boat, she wears a life preserver. Etc etc. We have a pool at home, she has a lifevest there, is taking lessons, we lock the pool gate. As a parent, I take the precautions I need to minimize the danger that I can control without putting her in a hamster ball.

      Sometimes freak accidents happen. I don't know if I think letting a 12 year old race motorcyles is a great decision for a parent to allow. But the same cam be said for allowing our 12 year olds to jump 800 pound ponies etc around obstacles.

      My life/youth would have sucked without horses. My parents did the best they could: got my with a reputable trainer, made certain I had what I needed to participate in the sport (which I am still doing 30 some years later). I rode my bike 3 miles to the barn, sometimes with a little Jack Russell in a basket. Not so safe looking back.

      Children can not decide for themselves (until they are 18). Until then, it is up to the parents to decide what is best and make every attempt to insure their kids are as safe as possible. Hopefully, there are trainers/teachers etc in whatever endeavor a kids choses that will also help guide and educate the parents.

      I won't comment on the parents choice of allowing a 12 year olde to "race" motorbikes, I just do not know enough about the sport etc. To an uneducated observer who does not know all the facts, it does not seem like good judgement. I am certain the parents will be forever second guessing this decision.
      Come to the dark side, we have cookies


      • #4
        Well he could have been struck by a car playing street hockey or skate boarding down the street.
        I understand wanting to keep your child safe but to keep them absolutely safe would mean keeping them at home and wrapped in bubble wrap until they were an adult. Kids are like horses as in they will find a way to hurt themselves if they can.
        As a young teenager I also rode without a helmet and with shorts and sandals or flipflops.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dare1 View Post
          As a young teenager I also rode without a helmet and with shorts and sandals or flipflops.
          Yup. We would go and ride DOUBLE on some of the lesson horses in the evening when I was a bit older and house sitting. I look back and cringe. I would shake my beginning to wrinkle finger at young-uns doing that now. It was part of the fun of my childhood, which thankfully, I made it out alive!!
          Come to the dark side, we have cookies


          • #6
            I feel for the author's panic. Something like this happens and the idea of your child dying will keep you up at night, but regarding his assertion;

            "I am the father of three children and it never once crossed my mind to deliberately expose any of them to a game or activity in which they could be badly hurt, or worse."

            Does that mean (and I wrote this in the comments) that his kids don't ride bicycles, ride horses, roller blade outside, ski, surf, participate in sports like gymnastics and football, etc.?

            I realize his panicked, but his position doesn't make sense outside of that.

            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


            • #7
              REALLY, this makes me glad I never wanted to do the children thing. I was fortunate enough to grow up when things were a bit more laid back...
              Somewhere in every situation there is a balance between reasonable and unreasonable risk, but honestly I wouldn't have a clue. Can my imaginary kid do short stirrup? Can he/she do Childrens hunters? Ride a bike where they choose? Skateboard? Climb a tree? I think we have moved towards over protection, but maybe not......
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


              • #8
                Does the author send his children out the door to school? Drive them anywhere in a car? Have they ever flown on a plane? Life in and of itself is risky. So long as this kid wasn't shoved out onto the track against his wishes, he probably was doing what he loved...not something he was taught to love. I was never taught to love horses; my daughter wasn't taught. Most the kids I've taught over the years didn't have a "horsey" person in their family to teach them anything about except to be afraid. And those children, against everything they were taught, still could not be taught to fear the horses.

                We take reasonable safety precautions and do all we can as parents to keep our kids safe while allowing them the freedom to live. What sort of existence does a child have when s/he is denied that freedom? I know several kids whose overprotective parents prevent them from doing even little league type sports. These kids sit in the house, play video games, and often develop social anxieties b/c they are denied the chance to be physically active and learn beneficial lessons from sports, physical activities, play in natural settings... I'm not saying ALL kids fall into the aforementioned description, but some do.

                DD will be riding so long as she wants to, with her helmet, on appropriate mounts, in safe situations (not riding holding scissors, or jumping bonfires, or jousting...). I will sign the waivers and celebrate her accomplishments with her. And I will pray for her safety as I watch her beam over having unlocked some secret in the saddle.

                I am so sorry for this family's loss, but I think the writer of the article is the one who is confused. Just my opinion...


                • #9
                  I don't have kids, but I think the risks need to be thought out.

                  Some experienced kids racing thier appropriately sized ponies on good footing I have no problems with or cantering around a novice or maybe training cross country course might be fine. Turning those same kids loose to race race-fit TBs or to run Rolex would be a problem do to the increased danger.

                  Racing 500cc bikes IMO is more like the race-fit TBs than ponies. They make smaller bikes that a kid would have a better chance of controlling. FWIW, my brother had a dirt bike when we were kids (not sure the cc, but definately way smaller than a 500) that he rode in the fields and woods and I was frequently a passenger. He still rides a street bike and I am getting ready to learn to ride a 650cc street bike - 500cc is a good sized, powerful bike and IMO not appropriate for a 12 year old especially on a dirt track in company.


                  • #10
                    I agree and disagree with the writer. I grew up on dirt bikes not horses and loved every minute of it. You also can't make a child love something that they really don't love. My daughter,now 12, loves horses but she really doesn't have a thing for riding. We have a farm our horses are at home and she has a med pony but it's not her passion and she rarely rides. I tried when she was younger and really wish she was in it more but she's not.

                    That said I dont agree with putting a 12 yr old on a 500cc motorcycle. This is lime putting your 12 yr old on a ottb that has more fire than brains. Would you do that? Knowing a lot about motorcycles that size is not appropriate IMO for a child that age. I rode an xr 80 at 12 yrs old. The point is we as horse people find the closest mount possible for or child's level and development. A 500 cc is not it IMO and my eyes got huge just seeing that that was what the child was riding.
                    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                    • #11
                      The writer says

                      In the end, what matters is that a 12-year-old boy is dead before he really started to live. And that’s tragic

                      I have to disagree... while I know nothing about motor sports and whether this was an appropriate level bike and/or risk for him, to fear everything and to do nothing that has a risk to it is not living.

                      There have been people saying for some time that the newer parenting model that takes so much more risk out of the lives of kids leaves us with grown-ups who do not know how to take risks and gain from it. Hopefully not stupid risks, but where would we be if no on ever took a risk. And at what age does he think the kid can decide?
                      Last edited by Drive NJ; Mar. 14, 2013, 04:14 PM. Reason: typo


                      • #12
                        Anyone remember Jessica Dubroff?
                        I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


                        • #13
                          She was a 7 year old trying to fly across country. I think her instructor was flying when the plane crashed. So the analogy fails on a number of levels -she was too young to fly, she was not flying the plane. This kid was 12 years old.

                          For the record, my dad had no choice but to get me riding lessons. I was riding the balcony rail at the apartment when I was in single digits. A blanket was the saddle and twine with two loops were the stirrups. If there's anyone to blame it's Krista DeLima for coming to school with a cast on her arm from falling off her horse.

                          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                          • #14
                            I'm from a less risk-adverse era and thus see the writer as just another hand-wringing nanny-stater who can't comprehend motivated families and/or is trying to boost readership by manipulating people's emotions.

                            We all take chances. In spite of all precautions, sometimes bad things happen.

                            When I was about 10, I made a go-cart with an old gasoline washing machine engine on the back. I was trying it out on a back road, heard a "whump" behind me, and glanced back to see the engine engulfed in a ball of flame. I bailed out and came home singed, scuffed up, and much wiser about home-made gas tanks. Had it happened a couple of seconds earlier when I was crossing a culvert, I might not be here today.
                            The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                            Winston Churchill


                            • #15
                              How about these 2?
                              "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                              • #16
                                I get where he is coming from

                                I did all the crazy, stupid things on the back yard pony as a child and my parents never knew about half of them. And I have thought back on them and am amazed that my friends and I came through them alive.

                                I get what you all are saying about you can't put 'life' in bubble wrap and agree with that. But I also get what I think the writer is saying. I 'think' what he is saying is not overfacing kids who do not have the age nor maturity to understand the risks associated with being overfaced.

                                My husband and I owned a 54 stall training facility for 12 years and sold it last year to downsize to a nice private 12 stall facility . Over the years I have been amazed at how many parents put their children in situations that were truly overfacing them. I can give you countless examples but here are a few:
                                • 10 y/o in lesson program and doing well. ready for 1st horse. I owned the lesson horse the child had been riding. Horse for sale for $3000. Safe, sound, nice horse and excellent 1st horse. Parents wealthy - $1M home on 100 acres down the road, own plane and landing strip, hanger, barn, etc. Dad thought $3K was too much. I always told any parent to buy the best trained, sound, safe horse they could afford as it was their child's life at risk. Dad didn't want to spend more than $1K on the horse. went to the auction, bought a 3 y/o, put in training w a lessor trainer at another barn since mad at me for not reducing my price. (note - I am not a trainer, was just barn owner but had very competent trainer in my barn teaching & training) kid was on the horse w/in 30 days. got bucked off and severly broke both legs and pelvis. several surgeries, lots of rehab learning to walk and will have issues for the rest of her life. Child LOVED horses and riding. Child trusted and loves dad. Child was in no position to understand being overfaced. Child impacted for life.

                                • Shows and Clinics at my barn. I hate, hate, hate a child on horse well beyond child's skill level. Ex: 10ish child at gate scared to get on the horse. Dad yelling at the child to get over it and get on the horse. Horse is at least 16.2h. I require helmets so fortunately the child had a helmet but only after dad went off on me for my stupid rule when I stopped them on the way to mounting block to inquire about where was the child's helmet. Horse jigging around and not standing. Child tells dad he is scared the horse is going to "take off on me again'. Dad yells at child to get on and 'be a man'. I ask the dad if everything was OK and he said it was just his 'chicken s**t' son not wanting to get on. "MY" impression was the kid either got on the horse or would be taken behind the wood shed that night and taught a lesson type of situation. So I was not leaving that kid. I stick around and try to calm the horse. I ask if I can just lead the horse around for a minute since he has been standing at the mounting block for several tense minutes. Dad says fine, whatever. Kid looks grateful. lead the horse around and he seems to calm. Tell the kid to come over and I ask him out of earshot of dad if he is OK to get on. Kid says, well, he just takes off with me sometimes and I can't stop him. Dad starts getting impatient. I go over to dad, compliment him on his lovely horse and ask if it would be OK for me to lead the the child on the horse for a few minutes until the child relaxed a bit...show environment, excitement, nerves, etc. Dad says whatever. child gets on without too much incident and horse seems calm. I'm holding the horse and we are walking calmly around. get the kid talking and relaxing. horse has been perfectly fine through this. ask the kid if he was ready to go it alone and he said he would rather not. we keep walking and talking. Kid does not like horses, does not want to ride, has fallen many times and is just getting over a broken arm. I'm thinking that horse is being pretty good this whole time and we have a kid who is being made to do something he does not love. Dad comes over and says they need to get some warm-up as the class is coming up. I let the horse go and kid is still just walking. Dad asks the kid to trot and kid does nothing wrong in asking - doesn't jab, yank, hit or anything other than cluck and start posting. horse takes 5 strides and then is off like a bolt of ligtening across the arena. Kid is terrified and screaming but unbelievably does not come off. Horse is not bucking but is on his own run around the arena completely unconcerned about the child on his back. fortunately everyone else in the arena keep their wits and horse gets cornered pretty quickly. I get to kid first and he is in tears. Dad gets there and says 'that wasn't so bad. good job with hanging on. now that that is over let's get to work' I throw the flag and tell the dad that their day is over.....farm liability, worried about someone else getting hurt if it happened again, refund of all fees, etc etc etc. Dad not happy but leaves pretty quietly. Never saw them again and I often think about that little boy. I worry as to what ever happened to him and to his horse. I fear nothing good came to either.

                                So I don't think the writer was saying that all kids should be put in bubble wrap but rather that parents have to have the objectivity and common sense to look out for the child's best interest minimizing the risk of any chosen activity. In my two examples I had Dad's that had egos that took away their objectivity and common sense. While a child may LOVE to do something and a parent may want to indulge the child in that LOVE, a parent still has to be the one to judge when, where, how and why it is best to do so, or not do so. It is when that judgement is blurred and the child is overfaced, thus increasing the risk, that I think the writer is questioning. Well, at least that is when I question and scratch my head at some of the things I'm seen parents do.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BEARCAT View Post
                                  We are increasingly living in a risk-obsessed society. Every day, "news" bombards us with micro-incremental statistics that make us wonder if every nip of bacon or booze is shortening our lives, and by how much.

                                  It is a complete mental fabrication that anything, anywhere can be made completely "safe." I personally believe this entire idea is a product of the advertising industry. Let's face it, people have been asleep in their beds and an airplane fell on their roof and killed them!

                                  "Helicopter" parenting, where kids are never allowed to explore the world and their own judgement and capabilitites, but instead have every moment of their day choreographed and supervised by adults, is one reason why adolescence now extends to age 35 and every day things seem more idiotic. How can one develop "adult" skills if one is never allowed to learn about the world to mentally grow?

                                  Pretty soon the only "safe" activity will be IPhones--which is just the way industry wants it. Units of production/consumer-pods, nothing more. Orwell was right!


                                  • #18
                                    "I don’t believe a 12-year-old – any 12-year-old – is mature enough to understand the meaning of death, which is something that can happen in a motor sport."

                                    Tell that to the thousands of children whose parents have died serving in the military. Tell it to a child whose parent or grandparent (or pet) has died.

                                    And if we're going to protect them by forbidding motorcross or horseback riding, what about football and soccer? Or crossing the street?

                                    How does a parent protect a child from death? I understand the desire, but the reality??
                                    Equine Photography in the Northeast


                                    • #19
                                      OK, former eventer and wife and Mom of motocross riders chiming in.

                                      I met my husband when I was 16 and riding my crazy horses down the side of the road with no helmet. He was already racing motocross and pursuing a top ten national finish. I went on to event a crazy little Arab at Training level, who tended to hang his knees every now and then. We both survived with the grace of God.

                                      Fast forward to now: my daughter is 13 and rides with me, but has little interest in jumping; she likes to game her pony and show in open shows. She never rides without a helmet, as do I. My son has been racing since he was 7, and is now 16. He's small for his age, but his Dad and he are talking about him moving up to a bigger bike, which makes me a little nervous, but I know it's inevitable.

                                      That being said, I LOVE to watch them ride and race. They both wear the latest in protective gear. Last November at a big race in Florida my son crashed and was taken to the hospital. Hubby (who was set to win his class) had to forfeit and spend the afternoon in the ER. Son was fine with a very slight concussion.

                                      At the same race, a 16 year old kid who was on track to become a pro was killed. I follow his Facebook page now. Unanimously, the postings talk about how much he loved motocross, and how even though his life was short, he lived it to the fullest.

                                      Many of the motocross Moms I know can't even watch their kids ride. I am the opposite, I love it. I love watching them soar through the air. Dangerous, yes. But so many things in life are. Drugs are dangerous, and kids do those, too, and without adult supervision or protective equipment. I like that my kids are thrill-seeking in a way that is healthy.

                                      I feel a life lived without passion is missing something. If I could choose, I would choose to die doing what I loved, instead of in a bed at a nursing home. My kids were never allowed to ride over their heads when they were young, and now that they're older, they are making decisions to pursue their passions, knowing the risks. As a mom, I say go out and live.
                                      Graphic Design & Websites


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                                        I agree and disagree with the writer. I grew up on dirt bikes not horses and loved every minute of it. You also can't make a child love something that they really don't love. My daughter,now 12, loves horses but she really doesn't have a thing for riding. We have a farm our horses are at home and she has a med pony but it's not her passion and she rarely rides. I tried when she was younger and really wish she was in it more but she's not.

                                        That said I dont agree with putting a 12 yr old on a 500cc motorcycle. This is lime putting your 12 yr old on a ottb that has more fire than brains. Would you do that? Knowing a lot about motorcycles that size is not appropriate IMO for a child that age. I rode an xr 80 at 12 yrs old. The point is we as horse people find the closest mount possible for or child's level and development. A 500 cc is not it IMO and my eyes got huge just seeing that that was what the child was riding.
                                        I know nothing about motorcycle racing, so I'll take your word for it. My husband's 500c old Yamaha, fool around bike, is certainly way too big and powerful for my 11 year old son to possibly handle.

                                        But, I too, do not agree with the author's general premise of not allowing kids to engage in anything that might kill them...ummm...that would pretty much rule out getting out of bed in the morning and, even if you went to that extreme to keep them safe, they'd die young from diseases relating to being too sedentary.

                                        The author also makes it sound as if parents are forcing their children to get involved in potentially dangerous sports...I've never seen that be the case. It's more often the kids begging to do something that scares the parent and the parent struggling with the decision. I know when I begged and begged and begged for riding lessons when I was about 8, my father was freaked out because some high profile man's (Governor of NY, maybe, I don't remember?) daughter had recently been kicked in the head by a horse and killed. I finally wore him down, but I was most certainly not pushed against my immature judgment to do something potentially life threatening.