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Arena footing can take you by surprise

It was a quite Sunday evening that I chose to take my Japanese exchange student for a ride. We had the covered arena all to ourselves and as I was saddling up my Standardbred gelding for our ride I sized up my friends head for a helmet. I had to show her how to properly wear it as she was attempting to perch the helmet on the back of her head so not to crush her perfectly groomed bangs. My friend rode first while I glanced around the arena for garbage & debris pick-up as our arena was covered, it was not enclosed and the recent rain storm had blown in some bailing twine and stray branches into the arena. I noticed a few wet spots but didn't think anything of it. My student wanted to see me take my horse through his paces as she was only able to walk-trot. So I hoped on and began to go through a level 1 dressage pattern. We made it through the 1st half and I'd just picked up the canter to begin a circle when we hit a wet spot in the arena.

All I remember was my horses head coming up and his backside completely falling out from underneath me. I don't know how long I was out, but my trusty steed wasn't moving and was lying on top of me. My head was throbbing and I couldn't see straight. My friend was in a state of shock and I don't remember hearing anything, and she wasn't rushing to my side to help either. I don't remember how I got up, my horse unsaddled or how on earth I made it home, but I do remember the half-inch gash just above the visor on my Troxel helmet.

After explaining the fall to my doctor and showing him the helmet, he said it saved my life. All I walked away with was a mild concussion and bruising on my leg. My horse lucked out too and didn't have a scratch on him, just a little sore in his back for a few weeks. I am so thankful I was wearing my helmet and I still faithfully wear one every time I ride. I don't remember seeing the wet spot in the arena as I was riding, but upon later inspection the following day other riders told me there was a skid mark in the corner resembling a sliding stop. The trainer at the barn inspected the arena carefully and determined that there was not enough fill dirt in the arena and the hard clay underneath was saturated with water from the rains; it was just a matter of time before a horse went down.

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