24 JUNE 2016 | HorseIllustrated.com
but we had been “mudding” many
There was a large puddle along
the ATV track that I didn’t think
twice about when we started
through. Instantly, we got sucked
into boggy mud that felt like it had
Aeowyn panicked and threw
me o;. The puddle was only about
as long as her body, but with the
mud sucking us down I couldn’t
move to get out of the way. She
reared up and twisted, falling flat
over on top of me. She struggled
for a while, but got tired. So we lay
I don’t in any way blame her
for this. It wasn’t her fault—it was
mine for not riding with a buddy
or being more careful. However,
as I lay there listening to Aeowyn’s
heartbeat, I couldn’t breathe. I
couldn’t move anything but my
right leg, and in her struggles,
she kicked me in the ribs, head,
knee and legs. I was lying directly
underneath her length-wise,
which most likely saved my life.
Eventually I blacked out. After
a while, she was able to heave
herself up and out. I came to on
the bank, coughing up spurts
of black water. We were both
covered in black muck from head
After a short rest I realized I would
get hypothermia if I didn’t get
moving, so I dragged myself out of
the mud. Slowly getting to my feet,
I quickly realized that I wouldn’t
be able to swing my hurt leg up and
over my huge horse’s back.
Aeowyn was waiting for me a
short distance away and watched
me get up before coming over to
greet me. She looked concerned,
checking me over with her nose.
Finding that my phone was
destroyed, we started to hoof it to
the nearest road. She took baby
steps beside me the whole time
since I could only shu;e along.
She would nudge me forward with
her nose whenever I stopped.
Eventually, we made it to a country
back road about a mile away.
Looking like monsters from the
black lagoon, it didn’t take long to
flag down a random truck. A very
kind young man allowed me to
get his phone all muddy so I could
make a call. He was even nice
enough to wait until my ride came
to pick us up.
The result: brain damage. I wasn’t
wearing a helmet; I hadn’t worn
one since I was a pre-teen. My
doctors felt that I’d received
multiple undiagnosed concussions
over the years that compounded
on each other from being thrown
from horses and one car accident.
I ride western, and the
stereotype is that you have to be
tough enough to not wear a helmet.
I disagree; I wish I had been strong
enough to be safe no matter what
my friends thought of me.
My experience has lead me
to three pieces advice. Rule one:
use basic safety tools such as
helmets. Two: ride with a buddy in
potentially unsafe riding territory,
and try to choose safe routes.
Three: carry your phone in a
Because of my injuries I had to
wait to get back on Aeowyn. Her
courage and friendship saved my
life during the accident. She has
never once faltered since then,
and it’s her steadfastness that has
helped me to heal.
Riding is a lifestyle, not just a
hobby for me. Every doctor I see
asks the same question: Do you
still ride? And I can honestly say,
“Always and forever”—just with a
helmet now. HI
After her accident,
that no matter how
much you trust your
horse, it’s smart to
wear your helmet.