A rider who sustained a hairline skull fracture in a team-chasing fall has shared images of her severely damaged riding hat and said she was “incredibly glad” she had replaced it recently — and that she was “lucky to be alive”.
Somerset-based Susannah Stanning was competing as part of Team Rideaway in the intermediate speed class at the Cotswolds team chase on Sunday (31 October) when her horse Our Kaempfer tripped, fell and landed on her head.
“I remember being pretty convinced he was going to land on me. He cartwheeled over and his hindquarters landed square on top of my head on the floor. It was about as dramatic as it can be,” Susannah told H&H.
“I was unconscious for about five minutes but I was incredibly lucky that they have such amazing medical staff there.”
Susannah, who runs a yard producing team chasers and polo ponies with her husband Roddy, was taken to hospital by ambulance and a CT scan showed she had sustained a hairline skull fracture, and she was diagnosed with concussion. Her horse was not injured in the fall.
“I didn’t have any damage anywhere else, I was extraordinarily lucky,” she said.
“I was kept in hospital overnight for observation but the fracture should essentially heal on its own in time. I was given advice about the concussion and there will be no riding or driving for the immediate future.”
Susannah agreed for images of her damaged riding hat to be shared online and said she had been “astounded” by the response. She is sending her hat back to Champion for the damage to be fully assessed.
“Looking at the damage to my hat I feel incredibly lucky to be alive. I have seen some video footage of the fall and it really could have been a very different story. I only bought my hat three weeks ago when I decided I probably needed a new one, and I’m incredibly glad that I did,” she said.
“I think people have been shocked by the amount of damage to my hat and thought there would have been a lot more damage to me,” she said “I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve not had a head injury before, and it goes without saying how important it is that everyone wears a riding hat with the correct safety standard, and if you have a fall it’s important it gets replaced. I hope some positives can come from this and people learn from my experience.”
Susannah’s husband Roddy, who was at the team chase, added how “brilliant” the medical team was at the Cotswold.
“We were unlucky it happened, but lucky it wasn’t worse and that this happened at a properly organised event with paramedics and a racecourse doctor. The immediate medical attention quite likely made a significant difference to her outcome,” he told H&H. “It highlighted that it’s even more important that you wear a hat at home because you’re unlikely to have any medical cover there if something happens.”
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