Laure emailed from Lexington, Virginia, of “The Day I Wasn’t a Turkey”
Okay, I’ll admit it, having begun my riding career at 40 (I’m now 52), in India of all places, I have NEVER ridden without a helmet, and Troxel is the brand I wear. Despite coming to riding late in life, I decided I wanted to learn to jump, so I’d be able to manage the steep, and often challenging, up and down creek-laced terrain here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Learning to jump in my 40s gave me plenty of opportunities to be thankful for my helmet, but my real “ah-ha” moment came a couple of years ago, after I had become a fairly competent rider. I was out riding in the mountains with a friend, on her quarter horse, Nelson, who has a bad habit of bucking (hard) when left behind. Up until this point however, Nelson had never bucked me off.
We were cantering along a somewhat rocky trail when we flushed a flock of turkeys, causing both horses to leap sideways. We checked our horses, but then my friend cantered on ahead. Nelson slammed into a buck and I went flying off hard onto the rocky ground. I lay there a moment dazed, then tried to get up. I managed to crawl to my hands and knees, but couldn’t get any further.
A few moments later my head cleared. I was lucky to have only dislocated my jaw—I now understood how a clip on the jaw knocks out boxers. I was scratched and bruised, but no bones broken, and more importantly, my head had not turned to pulp. We switched horses, rode 5 miles home (at a leisurely pace) and then I drove myself to the emergency room, but thanks to my helmet, after a couple scans and some ibuprofen I was cleared to go home.