Not always happy hacking… what to do if you have an accident

It’s been a while since I have written a blog for B&W Eventing. The rather tired excuse of ‘I’ve been busy’ really is the only one I have to give, but is very true. But with the New Year a memory it’s time to kick on and think eventing. Over the winter Wanda has been ticking over and we welcomed out new member to the team, Weenie. Weens is a former 2 star event horse on loan to me by Nicole Mills. I will be blogging more about her later.

photo courtesey baileys horse feeds

As the weather hasn’t treated us kindly our paddocks and farm tracks are a compete mess. Regretfully this has made me return to the roads in order to get Wanda fit.

As many of you know I had a nasty accident in November 2013 on Wanda when we were hacking. We were hit by an overtaking car and I was hurt quite badly. Wanda is also not that keen on road work and the whole incident has made her quite nervous. Together we try our best to look after each other but it’s so disappointing as I used to ride everywhere on her, even when I was very heavily pregnant.

The whole accident has made me very aware of road safety and I have been really well supported by Hanna Campbell, a Director and Solicitor at the legal firm HorseSolicitor. I’ve asked Hanna to share her expertise and write a brief guide of what you should do in the event of an accident. It is really worth taking the time to read and digest as from my experience it is hard to remember what to do when in shock and having to handle an upset or injured horse (let alone if you are hurt too).

For more information about Horse Solicitor visit www.horsesolicitor.co.uk

Stay safe, remember to wear your high viz and enjoy your roadwork!

X

Nikki

Horse Solicitors Guide to what to do in the event of an equine road accident

At HorseSolicitor, as specialist equine lawyers, we deal in a variety of horse related accident injury claims. The majority of the hacking related injury claims arise as a result of road traffic accidents (including hit and run untraced claims), dogs that fail to respond to recall, or scrambler bikes off-roading.

In all of the above mentioned hacking cases, the below steps should be taken immediately following the accident, to provide the rider with the best prospects of pursuing a successful claim for injury and any associated financial losses.

It goes without saying but in case of serious injury then someone needs to call 999

Even if it’s not a 999 scenario you should report the accident to the police using the 101number

Take details of any other parties involved in the accident. The more information you can get the better but you need at least their name, address and vehicle registration number (if relevant)

See it there are any witnesses who will give you their details. Here you want name, address and phone numbers.

Take photographs of the accident scene and any vehicles and animals involved. In the case of vehicles you should try to get pictures of the number plate, any damage, and its position on the road

Call HorseSolicitor (01446 794196) sooner rather than later. People are usually far more willing to admit liability for something they’ve done in the immediate aftermath than when you try to bring a claim 2 years down the line.

It is important to note that in untraced cases, where the person responsible for an accident drives off or cannot be traced, it is still possible to claim compensation if the accident results in personal injury. The vehicle does not have to hit the horse, merely frightening it through negligent driving and causing injury to rider as a result is enough. In untraced cases we do not know who the person responsible is and therefore cannot obtain their insurance details to make a claim against their insurer.

However, an organization called the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) exists to compensate victims of negligent untraced drivers (and uninsured drivers). MIB claims are subject to different rules and timescales to standard personal injury road traffic accident claims and expert advice is essential to avoid falling foul of the pitfalls.

HorseSolicitor specialises in MIB untraced driver and hit and run claims.

Types of claims that can be made to the MIB under the untraced drivers’ agreement include:

– Hit and run accidents

– Driver spooking a horse resulting in injury but failing to stop

– Objects negligently deposited on the road arising out of the use of a motor vehicle which results in injury

In all of the aforementioned cases, traced and untraced, a Claimant should keep a record of all losses incurred as a result of the accident because their claim will consist of 2 elements, general damages and special damages. General Damages relates to the compensation that a Claimant receives for their pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Special damages relates to the compensation that they will receive for their financial losses, which includes compensation for the gratuitous care that family and friends provide during the course of their rehabilitation.

By following the steps outlined you will ensure that you do not prejudice your case and that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Whilst it is not always possible, particularly in cases that tragically involve the euthanasia of our client’s horse, it is our job to put the Claimant back into the position that he/she would have been, had the accident not occurred. As riders ourselves we are passionate about insuring justice for injured riders.

On contacting us we will be able to offer representation on a no-win no-fee basis if we feel that there are good prospects of making a successful claim. If a Claimant is unsure as to whether or not he/she has a case they should call us on 01446 794196 and one of the team will be able to advise.

Any questions in relation to the above should be sent to hanna@horsesolicitor.co.uk

A not very happy hacker…

As many of our regular readers will know Wanda and I were unfortunate enough to be involved in a car collision while we were hacking just before Christmas. Luckily neither of us suffered major injury but I had quite a lot of leg pain for some time after wards and Wanda was sore for quite a while. We were both very lucky not to have been really badly hurt. Since the accident I haven’t been keen to hack on the roads and Wanda is definitely nervous about vehicles approaching us from behind.

It’s a real shame as she has always been such a great and very calm hack, I was even hacking her at 34 weeks pregnant. Although we are based on a farm the majority of our hacking is on busy and quite narrow roads. To get off road we have to hack at least 4k to the next village. So the winter has been a tricky time for us as we have struggled with high winds, rain and vehicles!

As the eventing season approached I set about planning Wanda’s fitness regime and wanted to factor in more long hacks to strengthen and condition. Although I can hack out with Coco our groom (riding my Niece’s horse) this wasn’t always convenient and I realised I was making excuses about not hacking. ‘It’s too cold / wet / windy / I’m too busy / I need to do more schooling’ were the usual excuses I made to veil the deep thoughts of ‘I don’t want to go on the road in case we have an accident and we get hurt again’ and ‘hacking isn’t fun anymore as I makes me feel dizzy, scared and sick’. I think this echoes a lot of rider’s views about road riding today… I hear it many times on social networking sites.

Things got to a point where I really felt I needed to try to do something positive to claw back the enjoyment I had from riding Wanda out and possibly begin to get her more settled about being on the road. I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘happy hacker’ sort of rider. I spend a lot of time training but I do enjoy riding with no pressure and just enjoying my horse, this was the one thing I was missing from hacking. I just wasn’t sure how to approach my problem which was even more exasperated when we had a lorry accident on the way to BD regionals in February. At this point I knew things had to change.

Sometimes I think people are destined to meet, through one way or another and some of my closest friends I’ve met by a chance encounter. Via a friend, Liz, whom I know via Facebook, I met Ferris Jay who works with a wide range of therapies and thought she might be able to help me out.  Amongst other things Ferris works with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a simple and effective tool for clearing negative emotions, limiting beliefs, fears, phobias and trauma.  While it may sound too good to be true, I decided that it was worth having a go. I certainly couldn’t continue with the way things were.

A few weeks ago I had a Skype video chat with Ferris and outlined my situation and my worries about road riding. She asked me how I felt when I rode on the road. I could describe the feelings quite well… claustrophobic, shaky, lack of breath, panicked and like all the surfaces around me were hard and unforgiving.  No wonder Wanda felt nervous, I was incapable of riding with any form of confidence at all and at worst case froze every time a vehicle went past.

So, how does it EFT work? Following our conversation Ferris had a clear idea of the anxieties I had and we went though a really simple sequence of verbalising a statement about how I felt, then tapping on particular acupressure points whilst focusing on the issue at hand. This may seem a little too simple yea? Well I have to say it was quite a release to verbalise and say out loud the things that had been bothering me for so long; to the point I was having nightmares about them.

The session in total lasted just over an hour and although it may seem strange doing this while on Skype, it was a really good way to communicate with Ferris who is now based in Ireland… funnily enough she has lived just down the road from me for the past 5 years!

We left the conversation on a positive note and I was all set to give hacking a try again. Unfortunately my planned hack for the next day didn’t go totally to plan as I ended up with a sick child to look after, but I did get out a few days later. I didn’t ride on my own but I wanted to test myself in company then gradually remove the safety net of having another horse between me and other vehicles. However, I came home from our ride with a new found understanding about how I needed to address my emotions and stress reactions in order to support and guide Wanda. I felt more responsible in ensuring that I was going to be the confident one that would tell her that it was ok to be around cars. This sounds quite softly softly for me as most of the time I’m a very black and white thinker and tend just to get on with things. I think it is just testament to how much accidents like these can damage both your horses and your own confidence.

The knock on effect has been interesting. I think I am riding with more confidence, when I get a few nerves I think I’m able to tune into these and try to focus on banishing them. Like a conversation with nerves, something like ‘ok so I hear what you are saying but I don’t think it’s helpful so can we move on please’. I’m by no means nerve free but I have a strategy to ditch the negativity now.

I wouldn’t say that I am 100% over our accident. I’m still not keen on other road users coming near us but I think I’ve accepted that it’s more dangerous to revert to pure panic than it is to try and ride objectively and deal with the matter in hand.  I definitely have the feeling that I am there to guide and support my horse which is reassuring in its own way. I really appreciate the insight that Ferris has given me into new ways of dealing with negative feelings and stressful situations and I will be continuing to have sessions with her until the last bits of nerves are banished.  As I’ve said I think the shock of the accident will stay with me for some time to come but at least I feel now I am making tracks towards healing the stress and enjoying my horse.

More information about Ferris Jay can be found at www.ferrisjay.com

A really useful BHS site with road riding information and a section for reporting horse related road accidents and http://www.horseaccidents.org.uk

A company selling Hatcams to use out hacking and some Highvis kit http://www.thehacksafecompany.co.uk

Equisafety… suppliers of a wide range of high vis kit http://www.highvisibility.uk.com/equisafety

 

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray…

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Today  I thought I would start off my blog with this very apt Burns quote. As many of my regular readers and social media followers know I have been prepping for the British Dressage Regional Championships at Addington. I really had put a lot of time into this competition and knew it would be tough to achieve a top ten score. In previous experiences most riders seem to drop 4-6% below their usual scores so it was important to me to be as near to 70% as I could.

After some intensive lessons, test practice and endless visualizations I felt really prepped for my test, riding at 1pm just after the judge’s lunch break. Our preparation went well on Saturday despite the lousy weather and Wanda was sparkling and looking amazing. She cleans up so well and I always try to have her as professionally turned out as I can.

She was still very clean when I fed her on Sunday, which turned out to be a lovely day with sunshine and no wind. At this point I almost felt that things were going too well and was waiting for the hiccup. Thinking this was just nerves kicking in I banished those thoughts and focused on last minute grooming and plaiting. Everything was going like clockwork as I loaded her up, got into the cab and started to turn on the key… and nothing but a cranky noise and a lorry that sounded like the starter motor had gone with all sorts of unknown hieroglyphs appearing on the dashboard. Cue major swearing and grabbing of the lorry manual as I tried and tried again to start the lorry. At this point I was about to call mum and ditch the lorry for our trailer, there was no way I wasn’t going to get to compete. Last try of the key and with a splutter the damn thing started. Thanks lorry… proof that I’m not great with dealing with changes of plan or shocks pre competition!

The journey to Addington isn’t far, about an hour and a half for us so we had plenty of time to get to our destination. Feeling more confident I calmed myself down and focused on the drive. Disaster was about to strike about half an hour from the end of our journey. Just after a roundabout we had a collision with a car who decided to undertake the lorry at high speed. I ended up having to emergency stop and it felt like poor Wanda was about to join us in the cab.

I’m lucky enough to drive Mum’s lovely white Oakley and was scared to even get out to view the damage, let alone check how my precious horse was. I am pretty calm in major stress situations and took the driver’s and witnesses’ details, checked Wanda who had broken her bungee tie up and had a lump of forelock plait missing (I think she balanced on her head to stabilise herself) and was soon on my way. It wasn’t until I arrived at Addington that I realised I was physically shaking and was immediately sick! I decided to re check Wanda and then go off for a little walk, finding out at that stage that the arena was outside for our test – a brave decision given the recent weather.

I realised at that point I was in a bit of a muddle and tried my best to keep visualizing the test and keeping to time and focus. I also felt quite sleepy – adrenalin does that to me so I decided to have a can of Red Bull… mistake! This just gave me palpitations and nausea. I tried to ignore this and it was good just to crack on, give Wanda a final polish and get us both dressed and ready. As usual time ran away with itself and I was soon on and heading down to the warm up. From this point I just felt wrong. I can’t really say more than I felt really strange riding. Unlevel, wonky, hands all heavy and low. It seemed like Wanda had her mind elsewhere and her concentration was all over the place. Strategies that normally would have resulted in a content and focused horse and rider just weren’t working. The more this went on the more I panicked, the more I panicked the worse it felt.

I struggle with an old riding injury which means I sit to the left sometimes… this just seemed exasperated to the point of my saddle feeling like it slipped. I was holding my hands low, elbows like rigid plastic, tense in shoulders, collapsing in my core. It felt awful and I really couldn’t find a way to work through it. My warm up time was soon running out and I tried my best to focus. I know Wanda is a willing horse, I just needed to chill out and enjoy the ride. At this point I was glad I knew the test inside out as I think if I hadn’t this would have been the first thing that would have slipped my mind. I was able to turn on the dressage charm  and smile as I entered the arena which did help the stress situation.

The test wasn’t long and I knew what I was doing so in a sense it was straightforward to ride. I tried my best to gain marks where I could, so decent shapes, accurate transitions, keeping the test flowing. I have to say that I was relatively pleased with our performance. There were no OMG moments and it felt accurate, I just knew that Wanda wasn’t swinging through her back and really working as well as she might, due to my inability to ride calmly and softly.

A lovely moment at the end of the test was the judge at C coming out of her box and saying ‘what a lovely horse, I think she’s fantastic, I’d love to own her’. That was very uplifting after such a stressful day but I knew that I was not going to do as well as I should have or wanted to.

My mark said it all. A shade off 65% so respectable but out of the top ten by 1.8% Feeling frustrated and fed up all I wanted to do is pack up and go home. I felt like I’d let everyone down and more importantly my horse. The drive home was awful as I felt so nervous and sad but we eventually got home and Wanda was glad to be back in her stable with food… her best reward ever!

I had an early night and just felt really low. The nice thing about eventing is if you ride a bad dressage, however frustrating that is, you still get to jump and have a blow out. With dressage it’s down to one test. I think that’s why I feel more pressured. I have to say I’ve really beaten myself up about things and felt a bit down over the last few days. BUT I don’t stay down for long… I’m already working out my next game plan, how I can move on from this. It was incredibly bad luck and I think without the accident stress our scores would have been radically different. However, things do go wrong at competitions and I have to learn how to focus and move on and ride effectively. So this is my next plan, some mind work and also some really intensive lessons, going back to basics so I’m riding as straight and evenly as I can, keeping soft elbows but with a strong core. I think this will come gradually and I do forget that I had a baby 7mths ago!

Loads to do and to think about, but not to dwell on, and with the first event of the British Eventing season on 1st March I can’t hang about. In sum, a really frustrating day, but as my friend said, Wanda wasn’t hurt, the lorry is fixable. Time to kick on 🙂