Eventer’s safety warning after kick causes liver injury

  • An eventer and trainer who suffered broken ribs and a lacerated liver when she was kicked by her own horse believes that “body protectors need to become cool”.

    BHSII Tara Williams’ two-star ride Zeitgeist (“Jerry”) had been turned out on her arena on 9 June as he had been suffering from a slight lameness.

    When he started “jumping around”, Tara walked towards him.

    “I was just trying to catch a horse as normal, and he turned round, slung his legs out and caught me right in the ribs,” Tara told H&H.

    “I was lying there and could feel my whole rib cage was concave.”

    Wiltshire-based Tara was taken to hospital in Swindon, where it was found she had broken four ribs and suffered lacerations to her kidney, as well as her liver, then moved to Bristol Southmead Hospital’s trauma unit.

    She is still (15 June) on bed rest and is not likely to be able to ride again for some weeks.

    “I’d just entered the two-star at Nunney this weekend, and entered Barbury arena eventing and the Burghley young event horse class,” Tara said.

    “The doctors are now saying eight to 10 weeks before I can ride again; it’s so frustrating.”

    Tara said she is always more than conscious about safety when working with horses as well as riding, but that this incident has made her more determined.

    “I wouldn’t have worn a hat or body protector for just getting a horse in from the arena,” she said. “But it makes you think: ‘what if it had been a bit higher, or further over?

    “Most people in summer ride in just vests or T-shirts with no other protection.”

    Tara said she has been looking into protective clothing made for cyclists or other sports; lightweight “skins” with padding sufficient to protect someone handling a horse, rather than something designed to prevent injuries in a fall.

    “I might even look into developing a range, of breathable ‘skins’ that people can wear while handling horses,” she said. “If I’d just had a bit of something to make sure his hoof hadn’t hit my ribs, just a gilet with some padding in the right area would have done it. These things happen, but all it needs is for a kick to be in the wrong place.”

    Jerry has since been diagnosed with very mild PPID (Cushing’s syndrome), so he and Tara are “on box rest together”, but she hopes to be competing again before the end of the summer.

    “When he comes back into work, I’m going to be body protector-ed up to the eyeballs,” Tara added. “I can’t afford to be off work.”

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