A rider who was seriously injured and spent six days drifting in and out of consciousness after she was kicked in the head has served a riding hat reminder to other equestrians.
Holly Williams has credited her hat and the emergency services for saving her life when she was kicked in a freak accident while turning out a horse in May.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” she said. “It was an evening after work and I went up to ride, as I normally do, and the horse Herbie – who I had on loan – was lovely.
“I had a lovely ride, a nice canter and I remember putting my saddle away. I normally put my hat in my car once I’ve ridden, but I couldn’t be bothered to take it off, so I decided to keep it on while I led him up to his field. What are the chances?
“We have to go through a gateway [on the way to the field] and I remember laughing as he grabbed some grass, then everything went completely blank.”
Holly was found face-down by the gateway by a passing walker. The damage to her hat and her other injuries led medics to the conclusion that she was probably kicked in the back of the head.
“Thank god for that walker,” she said. “She called the ambulance, with the help of my yard manager, and I was taken to hospital. I had an MRI, which showed a bleed on my brain.”
Holly spent the next six days drifting in and out of consciousness, and spent two weeks in Royal Surrey County Hospital in total. She had to re-learn how to do simple, routine tasks, such as writing, hoovering, walking down stairs and making a cup of tea.
Three months later, Holly is continuing to make good progress. She is receiving help from an occupational therapist and is “getting her life back”.
“It’s hard, but I’m glad to be alive,” said Holly. “If I hadn’t had my hat on, I would have died.”
She has shared her story to make others think about wearing a helmet when handling horses, and to serve as a reminder for riders and yards about having emergency contact details in an easy-to-find place. She is also encouraging equestrians to read the small print on their personal accident insurance to ensure they are covered for all eventualities.
“If I can get a message out there for people to wear a helmet, and if it makes the difference to just one person, it will be worth it,” she said, adding that no matter how well you know a horse, accidents happen.
“I’d had the horse on loan for about three months and I’d grown to know him and to love him. It seemed really out of character for him,” she said.
“The ambulance and hospital teams have all been amazing – if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive.”
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