Jess Leroy from Team Leroy Eventing - Tumbles and the importance of Riding Hats!
How many times have you thought to yourself, I should probably get a new hat? Mines getting a bit old/tatty/worn/taken a knock or two….
Well, if you're anything like me, you've probably thought about it a lot. But, how many times have you actually driven to the tack shop and gone to get yourself a new hat?
Again, if you're anything like me, probably not nearly enough - you've probably thought to yourself, "oh it will be fine, I'll get myself a new one next pay day" or, "I really can't afford one yet, my horse needs X, Y, Z", or, "I'll get one next time I go competing". These are all things that I thought until last weekend when I thought to myself “Why? Why did I not buy a new hat sooner?".
I've been telling myself I was going to buy a new hat at Badminton Horse Trials this year but in reality I think I should have bought myself a new hat about a year ago, I've been lucky, until last Sunday.
Smokey had lost a shoe, so I wasn't intending to do a lot of work with him, some walking in the school and to make it slightly more interesting include some poles. We didn't even get to the poles, in all honesty I hardly made it onto his back. I always use the fence of the school or a mounting block to hop on and on Sunday I’d decided to go for the school fence option. 1, 2, 3…. foot slipped, kicked Smokey, got on (just), galloped off and then Black. There was a big smash in there somewhere but I have no recollection of it. I have no recollection of anything after my attempt of getting on.
The next thing I know is I was sat by the stables with my Dad shining his phone torch into my eyes telling me to look up – down – left – right. Apparently I called my Dad and told him I was in trouble, I have no recollection of doing this, I also took a photo of where I’d fallen, again, no recollection of doing this. After a sit down, a strong cup of tea and a limp and bruised hip I got back on and rode Smokey again – after all, as most riders will say; “If you’re not going to hospital - you’re getting back on”. The day carried on as normal with a lovely afternoon spent seeing my old competition pony in the Kent downs.
It was only after I got home that evening and started making a roast dinner that things were starting to strike me as abnormal, I’ve never felt so nauseous whilst preparing spuds! A bath and an early night were on the cards in the hope that it would all pass and I’d feel miraculously better on Monday – I didn’t. I felt worse. My whole neck had seized up and I could hardly move. Oh well I thought, I took a big whack, I’ll be fine. Armed with my neck warming pad hidden under a big scarf I tottled off to work for the day.
It was only on Tuesday when my head was still pounding that I thought things were still not right. I had a conference call at 6pm to the States so decided once I’d taken the call I’d take myself to A&E and get checked out – just incase. I wasn’t expecting to be taken to see a nurse within 10 minutes of arriving at A&E and I was even more surprised to be taken in to see the consultant within half an hour of arriving. A full check up with the consultant and I was expecting to be off home again with the ‘You’re fine.’ Sadly not, she marched me straight down for a CT scan….
Unfortunately, it turns out that my fall was much bigger than I thought, I was knocked unconscious for some period of time, my whole morning is a vague blur and I have about half an hour of my day thrown into total darkness. I have concussion, whiplash and some changes to the tissue. The doctors seem confident that I will make a full recovery but they have warned me that it may be slow and could take me between 2 weeks and 6 months before I am ‘myself’ again.
I’ve taken the decision to keep my feet firmly on the floor for a whole week – a tough challenge with the eventing season looming but I am doing everything I can to get myself better. I have Tweseldown coming up this weekend (2 full weeks from the fall) and it is still hit and miss whether I make the event. I am going to see the Osteopath on Wednesday morning and will take it from there. The support from everybody has been immense and I’ve hugely appreciated it.
I would never dream of getting on a horse without a hat on – I dread to think the outcome if I did not have a helmet on. I should have replaced my riding hat sooner though as it get’s a lot of use - A lesson learnt, and unfortunately learnt the hard way. The BHS recommend changing hats every 4 years - sooner if it gets used regularly but please, change your hat immediately if it has had any fall in it or if it no longer fits, yes it may cost you £100 or more, but you only have one head and £100 is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of horses.....
For more information on helmet guidelines visit:
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Jess wears eGlove EQUEST GripPro in Chocolate for Eventing, and Champagne for Dressage