Rider’s hat ‘saved her life’: calls for others to always wear one

  • A rider is urging others to wear safety helmets after her hat “saved her life” when she was knocked unconscious in a fall.

    Anne Johnstrup of Gloucestershire had just got on her seven-year-old 16hh Hanoverian mare Rosetta when she was bucked off on 24 October.

    Anne told H&H: “My friend, Vicky Stacey, helped me get on with a mounting block and I don’t remember another thing. I had just landed in the saddle and apparently Rosetta went down the centre line bucking.

    “I’ve never known her to buck but we think the exercise sheet she was wearing had come loose and moved and caused her to spook. I was knocked unconscious and have no memory for almost an hour but I was told I came round quite quickly.”

    Vicky, who is an accident and emergency consultant, called an ambulance.

    “I was lucky to have my friend beside me. I was taken to hospital and had a CT scan that found I had concussion and had broken my pelvis. I was told if I hadn’t had my hat on I wouldn’t be here now and I just thought ‘oh my god’,” said Anne.

    “I was sent home from hospital and had to wait for my pelvis to heal. It will still be a few more weeks until I can ride but I’m now walking without crutches and getting better – I’m very lucky. ”

    Anne said she is looking forward to getting back on Rosetta and will be replacing her hat, which was cracked in the fall.

    “The great thing is because I have no memory of the fall I have no fear of getting back on but I do worry about the pain my pelvis will give me,” she said.

    “I put up a post on Facebook to remind others of the importance of wearing a hat which has had a lot of comments agreeing. The pressure a fall can put on your family if they have to look after you and that’s if you survive. Head injuries can be horrendous.”

    Anne said it is concerning riders still take off their hats in prize-giving line-ups and to salute in dressage.

    “An accident can happen so quickly. Why do we still accept that men undo their chinstraps and take their hats off to salute? I know it’s tradition, but isn’t it time to get rid of it? You don’t always get a warning a horse is going to spook,” she said.

    “Just don’t take the chance and put a hat on, it just takes seconds. I hope by speaking about my experience I can raise awareness and save at least one person’s life.”

    Do you always wear a hat out riding? What about a body protector? Write to hhletters@ti-media.com for a chance to see your views in H&H magazine and win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger (please include your name and address; letters may be edited).

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