Of course, my mother was doing her best to
keep two reckless dummies safe who wanted
nothing more than to go fast and jump
high, ideally helmet-less. Of course, she was
imagining explaining to judgemental parents
everywhere—or an emergency room full of
surgeons—why she hadn’t done absolutely
everything in her power to protect us. She
knew what we hadn’t discovered yet: bad
things can happen.
Horse people don’t like to talk about
it (my stomach churns just typing this),
but bad things can—and do—happen.
After implementing The Vest, my (
hel-metless, vest-less) mother was riding a
horse that bolted and dumped her, cracking a few
of her ribs and confirming: Horses are bigger than we are. They get
distracted. We get distracted. They stumble. We make bad decisions. They
spook at blowing leaves. And no matter how much we love them or they
love us or how seasoned we are, they can really hurt us.
To no one’s surprise, despite The Vest, we still regularly landed in the emergency room. The Vest could not save us from sprained ankles, broken bones, split
lips, stepped-on legs, or the myriad of other lumps and bumps the barn delivered.
One year at camp, my sister’s girth broke. Neither her helmet nor The Vest could
have prevented that. Bad things can happen.
And the bad things accumulate. You have enough tough falls, hear of enough
freak accidents, and suddenly you’re the kind of person who immediately dis-
mounts a rearing horse if you feel unsafe, with a matter-of-fact, “I’m 30.”
Suddenly, you no longer prize the spookiest horse in the barn. Suddenly,
there’s too much to lose, and you realize you want to be riding (a sweet, older
draft cross) with your kids when you’re 60.
My friends and I all carry this tiny cringe in our rides, even if the reckless
children in us hate to admit it. We know bad things can happen. But we love
our horses and this sport, so here we are, tromping back to the barn with a fresh,
un-cracked helmet in hand.
By the time I turned 13 and we bought our second horse, The Vest had quietly vanished. But 17 years later, packing for a weekend of learning to foxhunt,
I found myself hallucinating (very mom-like) about all the bad things that
YOUR HORSE LIFE
could happen. Nothing was going
to stop me from my weekend of
equine bliss, but I ended up in my
mother’s garage, rummaging through
a graveyard of tack trunks to pull out
a familiar item. I literally blew the
dust off, and there she was: my old
nemesis (see evidence above).
Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a
new, current model for some of my
more daring equestrian exploits. I get
it now. After all, they’re breathable!
EMILY BOGENSCHUTZ lives in Texas and is
a freelance writer, recent hunter-turned-jumper, and professional sneaker of saddle
pads into the washing machine. Follow her on
Horses are bigger than we are. They
get distracted. We get distracted. They
stumble. We make bad decisions. They
spook at blowing leaves. And no matter how
much we love them or they love us or how
seasoned we are, they can really hurt us.