Have you ever taken the time to think about what would happen if you were to have a bad fall when you were at a competition? In particular out on a cross country course falls can cause serious injuries and prompt effective help is something that you want, and you want it quickly.
When competing in unaffiliated events it is important to know what services will be available for you and your horse if you were to fall. As one of the most dangerous sports in the country, with a significant number of spinal injuries associated with riders falling, the first time you wonder if there is a doctor at an event might be when you desperately need them. British Eventing requires a doctor and a vet to attend all their events, and there are rules in place regarding when you are allowed to ride again following an injury. In contrast unaffiliated eventing will provide medical cover at the discretion of the organisers, which may mean that there is not a doctor or a vet present.
Depending on location a medical trauma team can usually attend an event relatively quickly, either by helicopter or by road. They can provide any urgent medical care and transfer the patient to the nearest appropriate hospital. That means that whilst they are making their way to the site of the accident, the first aiders or paramedics who were covering the event will be responsible for stabilising anyone injured. I certainly feel more comfortable when I leave the cross country start box at British Eventing events knowing there will be a doctor who will be with me in minutes if I have a fall and need their help.
I would recommend that every horse rider know some basic first aid, and what to do if someone falls and is significantly injured. Next week’s blog will cover some top tips for you to brush up on your first aid knowledge and key things to remember in an emergency. In the mean time check out what cover the events you enter have and make sure if you have any medical conditions or allergies that you wear an up to date medical armband.