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[RC] Learning from Riding Accidents - DreamWeaver

How about how to avoid going to the emergency room due to a horse related cause (or even more specifically an endurance horse related cause)? I've only ever had one horse related riding accident that resulted in a visit to the emergency room. :-) We also had the step-in-the-hole at a 14.5 mph trot (love that gps) and flip thing at Bryce one year (it was a darn good thing I landed underneath Rocky and broke his fall so he did not get hurt). I got back on (the morning of day 2) and finished all 5 days with a few bruises, but otherwise fine.

The one emergency room visit I certainly could have avoided had I exercised any sort of good judgement that day. I should have not even started that day after seeing my juniors horse acting up. I really blew it and feel really bad about the whole thing and know that it took more work and time to get Chief to completely trust me again, he's such a neat horse and deserved better. We were at the top of a steep hill. He was annoyed (moreso than I knew, since I wasn't paying enough attention) from the other horse getting too close to him. I should have gotten off and led him down. I learned the hard way that you cannot ride a new horse the same way you ride your older experienced horses---you really gotta listen to every subtle little hint and take it seriously. Just because one horse tells you things in a certain language doesn't mean that another one will, and even the same signals might mean completely different things to each individual horse. I also managed to land underneath Chief and he also did not get hurt (it's a good thing Weaver hasn't done this to me yet, or I would be squashed like a bug!).

As far as how to avoid accidents in those two cases, there really isn't anything I could have done to have avoided the one with Rocky except leave well enough alone. I saw the hole and pointed it out to the other two riders shouting "hole" as I moved Rocky over with leg, the opening gave way and we flipped. I doubt he would have hit the hole at all if it had not have been for rider error. yet, there have been other times where I have moved the horses around an obstacle and we haven't bought the real estate. And who knows, had I not moved him over he may have hit it in such a way that it would have broke his leg.

One thing I learned the hard way (another emergency room visit) is I will not ever load or unload anybody elses horse in a trailer again. It took me a long time to even be able to load my own horses and go into a trailer with them again without being a wreck, and they have never once done anything to make me feel that way.

If I have an accident every 9000 competition miles (when my first one was), then I'm good for awhile longer. It really is important to have good health insurance. At least with this endurance rider, ground accidents or accidents with other peoples horses are what my problem has been, not actual riding accidents involving my own horses on rides. I am always so amazed at how many 'near-misses' you see at every ride. It is really a miracle that more people aren't hurt.

Oh yeah, and starting late only works on some rides. On multidays, like Cuyama -- we started late. Heck, we waited for 70, 80, 90...probably 100 horses to go. Then, we still got passed by 20, 30, 40 more. You've got half the riders waiting to start late so that idea goes out the window. Then, it gets even more interesting if the front runners get lost and they get to pass you two or three times. It's all a learning experience. The first day I didn't even mount and just headed down the trail at a walk. I keep telling my husband what an bundle of energy Chief is at the start and how he spazzes when he gets passed and my husband keeps reminding me that Rocky used to be like that and I argue yeah but not for this long and he says oh yeah, for this long and tells me how bad my memory is <G>. I sure don't want to get hurt again and don't mind starting in the back and walking down the trail for a half an hour or more and then getting on when the horse is calmer. If I get on and let the horse go, he'll just learn that when he gets wound up and acts stupid he gets to go. I don't want to ride a horse that I have to pull and fight, and I'm sure not going to "let him go to get it out". That is often what I've seen gets people hurt, and their horses get into trouble or become injured too.

The most important lesson I've learned this year about avoiding accidents -- a horse that is already strong can be made even more difficult to manage by feeding it the wrong things before a ride. (like too much molasses for example <bg>)

Karen
in NV

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REAL endurance is eating egg salad sandwiches for 3 days straight!
~ Heidi Sowards

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