A rider who found herself trapped under her horse after a rotational fall over a gate has credited her body protector for saving her life.
Katie Dickson shared the story of her accident in support of the British Equestrian Trade Association’s (BETA) first safety week, which runs from 26 April until 6 May.
The aim of the initiative is to encourage riders to ensure their safety equipment is properly maintained, fitted and fastened, as well as being up to the appropriate standard.
Katie suffered a dislocated hip and smashed pelvis in the fall last September but says without her Helite air jacket, it would have been a very different story.
She told H&H she and a group of friends had taken their horses on holiday to the Peak District and, while out on a ride on her gelding Joey, she leaned down to open a gate.
“We were having a lovely time,” she said. “I’d already opened about three gates and it was my turn again so I leaned over – and my horse went into a blind panic.
“It’s completely unlike him, he’s the most laid-back horse, but he tried to jump the gate, was too close to it and ended up stuck on his belly.
“I went over his head and he rotated and landed on top of me.”
Katie, who was trapped underneath Joey, remembers everything about the incident.
“He was struggling on top of me and I just knew it was going to hurt when he shifted his weight to get up,” she said. “He caught my left hip – I heard it crunch – and completely shattered my pelvis.
“But without my air jacket, it would have been so much worse.”
Katie said she had decided some months previously to wear an air jacket at all times while riding, so her husband had bought her the gilet-style Helite vest for her birthday.
“I had 650kg of horse wriggling around on top of me and not a mark on me above the waist,” she said. “All the paramedics and doctors who saw me were worried about spinal injuries; they couldn’t believe that every part of me wasn’t broken.
“There’s no doubt; the air jacket saved my life.”
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After a long stay in hospital and rehab, Katie is now at the point she is nearly recovered enough to ride again.
“I want to spread the word,” she said. “It can happen to anyone, at any time. The more people who wear the right safety equipment, and properly, the better.”
Katie also said that as she had been reading the map, and her companions were less confident, it was difficult for emergency services to find them until some passing cyclists provided their grid reference.
“There must be a map-reading app that can tell you your grid reference,” she said. “That was another lesson, as we couldn’t tell them where we were.”
For more on the first BETA safety week, see this week’s H&H magazine, out 26 April.
Also in this Thursday’s edition, don’t miss our full Badminton preview, including cross-country course walk with Mary King and full form guide for every horse and rider.