My name is Tim Harvey. I own and operate Western Safety Stirrups, LLC with my friend and partner Robert Oaks. I want to share how I came to invent our Western Safety Stirrups and why Troxel Helmets made that possible...
2 1/2 years ago I was riding in the mountains where I live on my mustang Atlantico. Tico for short. Tico was still pretty green at the time but I had ridden him in many different situations including a 4th of July parade. Though he was nervous at times as mustangs oftimes are due to their heightened sense of self preservation, he had never offered a buck or to run off. I did not think this ride would be any different than others I had taken with Tico leading up to this one. I was riding with my wife Trudy and our friend and neighbor Sally Moulton. We had ridden quite high up a mountain through an area that had been recently logged.
We live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the terrain here can be very rugged, especially in logged areas with logging operation remnants with lots of slash and skidder tracks. We came to an especially steep section with a large log over the trail. Tico stepped over the log with his front feet and the log was literally against his belly. When he stepped over with his last back foot, he stepped on a branch that came up and jabbed him in the belly! It was simply too much for him. He blew up and began wildly bucking down the hillside.
Now, I'm a pretty fair rider but I don't know anyone who could have stuck to Tico on that ride! It was as steep as the scene in Man from Snowy River but my horse was bucking! Even Jim Craig could not have stayed on this one though! I was thrown quickly but my left foot was caught in my stirrup. Attached by my left foot, I was repeatedly slammed into the ground like a cracked whip as Tico bucked and careened down the slope. I bounced off rocks, stumps, logs, etc. Luckily I was knocked out on my first impact with the ground so did not feel the terror my poor wife and friend experienced watching this all unfold. After several bucks, my foot dislodged and Tico and I finally and thankfully parted company. Trudy looked down the slope and I lay on the mountainside in a motionless heap. Trudy thought for sure I was dead!
For the moment, I was blissfully unaware of her terror. My first recollection as I came too was hearing a faroff gurgling sound with a roaring sound in the background. I was on my back and Trudy was kneeling next to me. She was talking and obviously trying to keep me still but I could not hear her words over that strange sound. I slowly began to realize the sound was emminating from me as my body tried to get air into my lungs through the blood in my mouth and throat! I was literally choking on my own blood! With Trudy's help I managed to roll over a bit and curled into a ball with my knees underneath me. Blood was streaming from my nose and mouth.
After what seemed an eternity of trying, I finally managed to get some much needed air into my lungs. But it was overwhelmingly painful to breathe! As I became more aware of what had happened my thoughts turned to Tico. Where was he? Was he OK? My first uttered words were to ask about Tico! Trudy assured me he was all right and standing just a short distance down the hill. As I aired up and became more conscious, the pain began to set in with a vengence. I began to consider my predicament. I was 2 or 3 miles from the nearest driveable road and I knew I was seriously injured. I did not know it at the time but I had 8 broken ribs, a severe concussion, my lower lip was almost torn off, my left leg was sprained in almost every joint. I had cuts, bruises and contusions everywhere on my body. It would take many stitches in the hospital to close the wounds to my lip and face.
There is no cell service up where we were and there was no way I was getting back on a horse. I would have to get out of the woods with help from Trudy and Sally or wait hours for help to arrive. Our trailer was several miles away in the opposite direction of the nearest road which was a 2+ mile walk down a logging trail. Trudy and Sally discussed our predicament and it was decided that Sally would ride to get the trailer and would meet us on the dirt road at the end of the logging trail. Trudy helped me to my feet and I leaned on Tico for support. With many stops and lots of help and encouragement from Trudy, we walked down that logging road to rendezvous with Sally and get to the nearest emergency room.. The entire time, as I made my way on that longest of walks, a single thought washed in and out of my brain like waves lapping on a beach. That if I did not have my Troxel Sierra helmet on, I would not be making this walk! Mt head involuntarily would go to the helmet still on my head. I could feel the damage to the helmet and thought about what might have been! That helmet stayed on my head until I was at the hosital emergency room and the doctor removed it when I was exrayed! After that crash, I tried to figure out what happened and what I could do differently to avoid accidents and injuries like this in the furure. I came to realize that accidents can and will happen. We cannot prevent the unexpected. What we CAN do is prepare ourselves as best we can to prevent an injury with the right protective gear. My Sierra helmet saved my life. Of that there is no doubt. It was crushed and broken where I impacted the ground as Tico's bucks slammed me into the ground head first! Without that protection, it would have been my skull that was crushed and broken.
I thought about the fact that my foot got caught in my stirrup not allowing me to get free of Tico. This entrapment resulted in me getting dragged down the mountain. I thought why aren't there safety stirrups for western riders like there are for English riders? It did not make sense. Trudy rides in an English saddle pretty much exclusively. She is about the best rider I have ever known and she NEVER rides without peacock stirrups on her English saddle! I looked for a safety stirrup appropriate for my western saddle. There was very little available and nothing that was simple. What was available was either VERY expensive, unattractive or simply not an option. Most were breakaway designs which I feel are dangerous in their own right! Who wants to ride with stirrups that are designed to disconnect from your saddle? That simply does not make sense to me! I determined to design a true Western Safety Stirrup that would be aestetically pleasing, provide a safe release in almost any situation and be acceptable, affordable and available to all western riders. After all, what good would a safety stirrup be if most people cannot afford it or won't put it on their saddle because it detracts from the aestetic so important to many of today's riders.
I think we accomplished our goal admirably with the Free Ride Western Safety Stirrup! Our safety stirrup would not be available today if it were not for my Troxel Sierra helmet! So now, I have head to toe protection. Every ride...every stride! I have a Troxel Sierra helmet on my head and my feet in Free Ride Safety Stirrups! Thank you Troxel! Your product saved my life and I hope to return the favor by helping to save others with our Free Ride Safety Stirrups!