Real Rider Stories: Elizabeth De Lavalette

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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…

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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!!