Real Rider Stories: Elizabeth De Lavalette


The importance of security gear…

I’ve been riding horses for over 45 years and I’ve had my share of falls but never anything that a good physical therapist couldn’t set straight. I had a horse that I trusted as much as he trusted me and I rarely wore a helmet. When this beloved Selle Francais had to retire for navicular issues in 2011, I moved up a young horse I had recently acquired. He was 6 years old with a mental age of about 3 but sweet as a button. When he moved from the country to a very URBAN situation, (kids on bikes, rollerblades, strollers, cars, busses,…) well, things got a little sticky.

Some little voice said “Change your helmet, buy an air vest.” I did and it was a good thing. He got me off once after about three months. No scares, no bruises. I let his trainer spend a little more time with him. We got through the winter, he improved, I trusted him a bit more… Then one day, after a blissful workout, we were walking back to the stable. I remember waving to a friend who drove by in his car… But that’s the last thing I remember.

A year later I have my memory back. I have all my language skills back and it’s only when I’m really tired and/or stressed with issues at work that my memory slips but I’m here and I can still ride and drive my car, work and do everything else I used to do. This is because I was wearing a top grade helmet and an air vest… And I’ll never ride without them again, and neither will my kids… And yes, of course, I still have the horse and he’s still sweet as a button, but no longer afraid of little kids on wheels…


Our readers also play an important role in our blog. They write about their experiences in the amazing life that it is to have a horse. Life isn't always simple when you're a rider, and there are a great many beautiful, dramatic and enriching highs and lows.

  • Deanna Groshong

    wow, what happened during your fall? I’m really curious, did he kick you in the head???
    I ask because last sunday I was kicked in the face by my mare and can fully appreciate these stories.

    • Tabby Jacobs

      Wow Deanna, that sounds awful! Were you ok?

  • De Lavalette

    I don’t think we’ll every know what happened but we’re 99% sure it me just collapsing from exhaustion (and work/family related stress) and not the horse. He remained calm throughout. My stables mates found me when the horse wandered home alone. I had no bruises, scratches or external markings. There were no dents in the helmet. I just fell in such a way that I bruised the frontal lobe and also had some residual damage to the back of my brain. Helmets: always wear them!!