First of all, I want to establish that my horseback riding lessons began when I was 50 yrs. old and I've always worn a helmet. I'd never had a broken bone in my life. Here's my story:
The day after Thanksgiving 2009, it was my second time to ride this particular horse for my riding lesson. When I'd asked for the trot, I got a spooked gallop instead and within 3 seconds, went from one end of the paddock to the fence. Having not ridden a canter yet, this gallop frightened me stiff and I nearly popped out of the saddle. I was wearing my trusty Troxel Dakota helmet and I thank God for that habit. As the horse turned sharply left at the fence, I flew over it and landed 6 feet down on the back of the helmet and my back. My life changed after that fall. Never had I experienced such pain. I saw a bright white light and felt I was drifting into unconsciousness. I was transported via Emergency Response, as Stage 2, to the nearby Trauma hospital. The results were six broken ribs, broken left wrist, fractured C-3 spinous process (back of neck), fractured T-3 and T-4 (mid spine between shoulder blades) and bruises. I wore a wrist cast for six weeks. Also, I wore an Aspen CTO brace from my neck to my waist for six weeks to see if the spinal fractures would fuse on their own, but instead they required surgery to implant two rods and six pins to keep it straight. I continued to wear the brace another five months. Being sensitive to certain medications, the pain meds were necessary, but getting off them was torture. Once I was out of the brace, I had to slowly regain muscle strength and flexibility.
Although I'm on the other side of this experience now, in reflection, it made me stronger in ways I never imagined. I know God spared me paralysis, memory loss or mental incapacities, and many serious impairments and allowed me an opportunity to rekindle my artistic interests. I still contend with some muscle/nerve pain issues, but they are so minor in comparison.
My Troxel helmet was part of saving my life that day. It was a typical riding lesson day, but within seconds, a near tragic fall occurred. Never take your riding for granted when you lack all the skills to handle a horse that gets spooked. A body vest would have been good, in my case, but that's hindsight now. A helmet is ALWAYS necessary, no matter what kind of riding one does. I'm thankful to be able to share my story and for each day God gives me to live. Thank you, Troxel.