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August 2015

Deadly impact: Skull - 1, Helmet - 0

The outer shell of the helmet cracked and fell away from its foam inner shell. (Click to enlarge.) (Originally published July 2009.)

The Thoroughbred gelding had been jumping the green and white, two-foot flower jump for days. This was just another routine schooling. As the horse cantered the line, his rider balanced over the balls of her feet in a classic two-point. She shortened the reins for better contact, looked ahead, and prepared herself for liftoff. The horse pricked his ears toward the jump, boldly cantered forward, then skidded to a halt, swerved right, then left, then right and, feeling his rider come unbalanced, scrambled away from the jump. She hauled on the reins, but the gelding continued his mad scramble. The rider slammed to the ground, head first. She didn’t move. Others in the arena ran to help, but seconds later, she stood up on her own. She was shaken and covered in the mud of the puddle her body hit.

Except for a bad case of road rash, and later, a stiff neck, she was injury free. Somebody started laughing. Pretty soon everybody in our arena started laughing, partly in fun, partly in relief. As the rider tried to pull muddy strands of hair out of her face, she unstrapped her helmet. She stopped laughing. A six-inch spiraling crack fractured the helmet’s surface. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
Those of you who think you don’t need one, think again. My daughter’s helmet saved her life today.
Read also:
Traumatic brain injury survivor Courtney King-Dye opens helmet conference
Fractured skull: She vows to wear helmet next time
Check out this life-saving video: Every Time, Every Ride

SmartPaks video: How to properly fit a helmet

(Karin Livingston was a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and is the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet.)