Rider highlights dangers after fall at ‘unsafe’ cross-country fence

  • A rider still suffering the effects of a fall at an improperly secured cross-country fence in June has warned others to be aware of what they are jumping.

    Karen Campbell was at a riding club camp with her gelding Rian and had already jumped the small tiger trap “several times” when his foot got stuck in the obstacle.

    As the fence moved, the six-year-old also got a hind foot caught in the structure of the fence, making it impossible for him to save himself and he fell, landing on Karen.

    “I remember hearing him hit the fence and thinking ‘oh s***’!” Karen told H&H. “The next thing, I was on the floor, surrounded by people.

    “He kicked me on the head and stood all over me as he got up; I was lucky I was knocked out by the initial impact so I absorbed it with no fractures.”

    Rian escaped serious injury, sustaining only a slight swelling to his belly and a nick by his mouth.

    But Karen, who lives in Scotland, has not yet completely recovered.

    “I’ve got post-concussive syndrome, which means concussion symptoms lasting for ages, so I still feel a bit stupid, and my memory’s shot,” she said.

    “I get headaches all the time and neck pain but it is improving every day, it’ll just take a long time.”

    Karen is now riding again but says the accident has changed her outlook.

    “We were on a proper cross-country course, but this fence had been added for a different riding club’s event,” she said.

    “At the time, I thought ‘that’s a bit of a rubbish fence’ and in hindsight, I shouldn’t have jumped it. It was open enough for him to get his foot stuck and although it was pinned, the pins only went a couple of inches into the ground.

    “It tipped forward and came up under his belly and because his foot was stuck he couldn’t retrieve it, then his back leg got stuck – he had no option but to fall.

    “I look at jumps differently now, even showjumping or working hunter ones, and think about the what-ifs.”

    Karen said she is concerned not just about the fact the fence wasn’t properly secured, but its overall design.

    “It wasn’t constructed well enough to be jumped,” she said.

    “Had it been more safely made and better pinned, he would probably have scrambled over, or I might have been fired out of the front rather than ending up underneath him.

    “But if it had been properly pinned and open like it was, would he have broken his leg? I don’t know. I’ll certainly think twice about jumping anything like this in future, but it worries me that things like this are being included in events.

    “Don’t take size as indication of safety – this fence was less than a foot high – and be savvy about what you’re jumping.

    “It might be fine 99% of the time, but it’s the other 1% that’s the problem. Just be safe.”

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