Scare at the country fair

Canada
June 14, 2011 2:57pm CST
This past weekend was the huge annual fair out where I used to live in the country. It's a four-day event, well-attended by all of the neighboring communities. Both of my daughters were there on Saturday. During the presentation of ribbons for one of the equestrian competitions, the announcer asked people not to yell or applaud because it could spook the horses. The youngest rider, who finished in last place, was a little girl either 3 or 4 years old. She was walked up, on her horse, by her mom or her trainer (or both!) - not sure. Anyway, as they reached the presenter, her horse reared! The mom/trainer must have panicked because she just let go of the reins. The horse was not saddled correctly because the saddle immediately slid out of place with the little girl's foot still caught in one of stirrups. She landed on the ground and it appeared that the horse tried to stomp her. My younger daughter was sitting quite close and, as the mom/trainer and the ambulance staff ran in, she said someone picked up the little girl's pink riding helmet and it was all broken up on one side. My daughter said it was dreadful as the little girl was screaming and crying and then, just as fast, she fell totally silent. They worked on her on the ground for quite some time and then took her away in the ambulance. The announcer advised the crowd that she was conscious and able to move her fingers and toes... and then he said, "THIS IS WHY we ask you NOT to spook the horses!!" I had tears in my eyes as I heard about this that night and then I thought... the announcer (who I'm sure was as traumatized as everyone else), clearly blamed the audience for the accident. A horse that is improperly saddled is a danger to ride... they can be in pain, even with a lightweight rider. Anyway, through some personal contacts, I was able to find out that the little girl will be ok... she has a broken collarbone... but will recover. I've never ridden competitively but I wonder if there are any kinds of checks or safeguards done to ensure that all horses that enter the ring "should be" safe to ride??
2 people like this
9 responses
@AmbiePam (49077)
• United States
14 Jun 11
I'm so thankful that little girl is okay. I've had a broken collar bone so I know she's in pain, but it could have been worse. As for the announcer, it certainly was mean to blame the audience. The moron who placed the saddle on the horse should get a "good talkin' to".
2 people like this
• Canada
16 Jun 11
I'm really thankful too, AmbiePam! I had a bad fall from a horse when I was taking riding lessons a few years ago and I admit it really traumatized me. Unfortunately, the farrier had sent an apprentice to tend to the horses and he did not do proper hoof care... so many of their horses were lame. My horse ended up falling because he couldn't get proper footing (they told me it was like he was trying to walk with tennis balls under his feet) and I hit the ground hard. He nearly came down on top of me but I was able to just roll out of the way at the last second. I can't imagine the pain that tiny little girl was in :( I wish I knew if the person that saddled her horse even had a clue what they were doing.
@katsmeow1213 (29047)
• United States
16 Jun 11
This was difficult to read. I imagined being there and seeing it for myself.. so terrifying! I think witnessing such a thing would give me nightmares. I'm glad the child will be okay.. that could have turned out so much worse. I do believe the fault lies on whoever did the saddle. Also.. if the horses can be spooked that easily.. why are they subjected to large crowds? For safety reasons, shouldn't they only choose horses who can handle loud, sudden noises.. as everyone knows crowds cannot easily be controlled.
1 person likes this
• Canada
16 Jun 11
I understand what you mean about nightmares, katsmeow... when my horse and I fell during a riding lesson, I went over his head and hit the ground and, as I looked up, I saw this massive animal falling at me. I rolled the little bit that I could and he crashed down right next to me - but fortunately not ON me. I can still picture it crystal clear to this day and it happened about 8 or 9 years ago! I haven't been riding since the accident either. It can really be traumatizing! My daughter's heart was just broken for the little girl, as she related what had taken place. She kept saying "Mom, she was so cute up there on that huge horse, in her little pink riding clothes and helmet... and suddenly everything went SO wrong!" I honestly don't understand why the horses would be spooked so bad. Maybe something happened at the fair earlier in the day but it's really, really not normal. I agree with you... I have to wonder who saddled that horse.
• United States
18 Jun 11
That's just awful. I'm glad you're okay. I've never ridden a horse in my life.. except for ponies at the zoo or something. I was seriously debating getting my daughter some riding lessons, I thought she'd love it. Of course it's beyond expensive.. and now after reading this I realize it can be dangerous and now I'm not so sure I want to do it!
1 person likes this
• Canada
19 Jun 11
Riding lessons are really fun :) My niece took them for awhile, when she was 9 I believe, and she adored everything about them... but she was actually allergic to horses and had no way to know that until she started riding. The most important thing is to really do your research before selecting a stable. I made the mistake of choosing the one that was easiest for me to get to. I put convenience over common sense and proper information. It was a family-run business and the parents were aging so they handed over most of the business to their eldest daughter. The girl was still young for all the responsibility and she seemed to cut corners on some of the very important aspects. She was mainly a riding instructor (both English and Western) but, when it came to the administrative tasks, she seemed to drop the ball. The reason for my accident was the farrier. The regular guy had not been able to shoe the horses that week and he sent his apprentice. Apparently, that guy had a lot of personal and emotional problems and he didn't always do the job properly. Without his boss to supervise, he didn't take care of the horses that day and really rushed the job. When I arrived for my lesson, I got a horse that was lame. As it was explained to me later, it was like the horse was trying to walk on four tennis balls under its hooves because they were not cleaned out properly before the new shoes were put on... so he had NO stability. I told my instructor during my lesson that I could feel him slipping all the time and she blamed me -- she said, "You are not pushing him hard enough so he doesn't know what you want him to do. You're making him unsure." I didn't agree with her but I pushed him harder and, while at a gallop, he finally fell, taking me down with him. The instructor fully blamed me for it and she never even checked to see if I was seriously injured. I did ride back to the stable that night and I did show up the following week (I was going with the "get right back on the horse" mentality). However, the mother came to see me when I arrived. She told me she had heard about my fall and apologized profusely. She also was the one to explain about the farrier. I believe she was afraid I would sue them. Anyway, I relate this to say - don't be afraid to get your daughter into riding, if you think she'd like it. I agree with you that it's really expensive (which was mainly why I didn't start riding until my mid-30s) but there are excellent, top-notch stables that will mean she'd have an amazing experience. I'd get some references and really check out places before you choose
• Philippines
16 Jun 11
Oh, I was frightened by the story too. I cannot believe a commotion will happen and I was there. I will be seeing everything that will going to be happen. On the other side, I know the audience can be responsible for this as animals can be really get spooked once it heard a loud noise. And it is dangerous if the horse, aside from a bull, to get panicked because it might reach anyone. My heart was beating fast because there was a little girl in the story, but I am glad she is now okay, according to you. Moreover,in regards to if a horses is safe to ride, we can never tell. My own dogs bite me when I stepped into his tail, so compare to horses, the latter is more dangerous. I do not know what is safe in horses, even trainers became a victim once they get panicked, isn't it? So we really don't know. All animals are dangerous if they are frightened or not in their normal state.
1 person likes this
• Canada
16 Jun 11
grecychunny, you really made a point when you said "all animals are dangerous if they are frightened or not in their normal state." You are so right! Nothing can be taken for granted. Just because a horse is normally calm and docile with the child rider, doesn't mean it won't react as it did. There are reasons horses try to throw their riders and one could have been that improperly secured saddle. I don't want to lay blame on any one person, of course, but it was a horrifying thing to have happen at a fun day. Yes she will be ok for sure... she has to recover from her broken collarbone but that seems to be the extent of her injuries (aside from the expected bumps and bruises, of course).
• Philippines
17 Jun 11
You know based on your discussion, now I decided to be really careful with animals. I use to touching bomb sniffing dogs when I see one in the mall, but I know since we do not have same level of intelligence, as I am human, they might be dangerous and not friendly once they got frightened. We need to be careful with any animals we see and touch.
1 person likes this
@bmorehouse1 (1029)
• United States
17 Jun 11
It was wrong of the announcer to blame it on the audience. Of course horses get spooked, but you should also have a horse that has been well trained in these events. I have a niece who started riding when she was three years old. She is now 14 and rides in many competitions. I know they take all the precautions that they can to ensure that she is safe, but of course there is always a chance that something will happen. There are so many factors to think of, but yet we all take chances evry day when we climb in a car. I'm just glad the little girl will recover, but I have a feeling that if they don't put her back on a horse right away that she will never ride again. I wish her the best.
1 person likes this
• Canada
19 Jun 11
I agree with you, bmorehouse1, that there are many excellent equestrian facilities that are so professional and I bet your niece just LOVES riding! It's a great sport. You're absolutely right that there are dangers to any sport and there is always a potential for injury (I mean, my older daughter dislocated her knee trying out for badminton, of all things... no one would have probably expected that!). After my riding accident, I did get right back on that same horse - for much the same reason you mentioned - I figured if I didn't, my riding days could be over. Honestly, I gave up my lessons but I had as much distrust about the running of the stable as I had fear of being up on the horse. I do hope to give it another try, with a different stable, once I have the budget again for riding
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
16 Jun 11
Wow...that was a scare. Horses can be very unpredictable. Event the most well behaved horses can get spooked or get something in their heads sometimes. I have rode a couple of horses and they have acted out but nothing like that. I am glad to hear that she is ok. I think the only safeguard would be to practice with them in similar environments ALOT. "Nice" strangers is a good way to train them too. Having people that they have never seen before come and visit them. They need to be socialized too. If there are going to be different people riding them..they need to be used to that. They will actually attach themselves to an owner and not be happy if they are mounted by someone else.
1 person likes this
• Canada
19 Jun 11
Horses are very social creatures, that's for sure. I think the problem at a country fair like this one is that many families bring and compete with their own animals. They are not necessarily representing an equestrian facility, I don't believe. I would have to inquire further to find out if those who take part are qualified instructors/trainers. My daughter definitely got the impression that, when the horse reared up, the handler didn't seem to know what to do at all
@savypat (20246)
• United States
15 Jun 11
Certianly there should be a sight evaluation when the kids enter the ring, that would be pretty easy to arrange. Maybe that pony was one that bloated up when saddled and then releasted his breath during the ride. If that was the case the owner should have known about this little habit. I'm glad the accident wasn't worse.
• Canada
16 Jun 11
savypat, I'm really glad too! I really think a sight evaluation, as you suggest, is the way to go, if it's not being done! As I was mentioning above, I started taking riding lessons (something I had always wanted to do) when I was in my mid-30's. I had a horrible fall as a result of a lame horse that was improperly handled by the farrier. I lost all trust in that stable and the quality of care the horses were receiving. Also, because I - and one of the largest horses in their stables - had come crashing to the ground and my instructor laughed it off and told me "Well the saying goes that you have to fall from a horse 100 times before you can call yourself a rider... now you have 99 to go!", I never went back. I got back on a horse for one other lesson but my confidence is shattered. I want to get back to riding, though, and I hope someday I will. People need to treat horses and their riders with much more professionalism and respect. Just because it's a country fair, it doesn't excuse them from having the proper practices in place.
• United States
15 Jun 11
That's horrible. It sucks that the announcer would blame the audience since it could also be the person who saddled the horses fault as well. I'm glad that the little girl is okay. I would hope that there are checks and safeguards done to ensure that the horses are safe to ride because if there weren't then I think that the family could hold the people in charge of the fair in trouble.
• Canada
16 Jun 11
I'm sure the announcer was in as much shock as the rest of the audience, viewing what happened to the little girl, but competition equestrians are usually stable with a normal round of applause, etc., in the riding arena. I'm wondering if the woman leading the little girl's horse was an actual trainer or a family member -- because her reaction didn't seem to be one of a professional :((
@Masihi (4228)
• Canada
14 Jun 11
Ouch, that is one scary incident, for sure, I hope there's no serious head injury found after a full examination. Did they close down the event? I think that would've been the best thing to do.
• Canada
14 Jun 11
My daughter had tears in her eyes just telling me about it! Since the competition was over, they were just awarding the prize ribbons and that little girl had finished in last place. So, her ribbon presentation was the last thing to happen. Such a sad note to end on :((
@KrauseHome (35034)
• United States
20 Jun 11
Glad to hear that the little girl will be OK and I am sure this was a very Scary experience for the Mom, and everyone who was there. To have to experience something like this would not be good. I have heard that the way a saddle is places is important and helpful for the horse and the rider. So in the future if this girl really wants to ride again, her and her parents can learn from this and make it a pleasant experience next time.