Bernadette Kilcer knows a thing or two about “Oh $h!t” moments. Here, she shares some tips for accident preparation and post-fall damage control.
Top photo: From Wylie’s private collection
Contrary to what any teenager (or 20-something male) will tell you, we as humans are fragile creatures. Bones break, muscles tear, and heads bleed. We spend so much time focusing on our beloved four-legged animals, that many times should be bubble wrapped for safety, that we forget about ourselves. I’m very lucky that my dad is a physician’s assistant. Inevitably he gets a phone call that usually starts off with, “Daddy do I HAVE to go to the doctor?” Here are some good rules of thumb he has given me over the years:
1. Have a human first aid kit. While, yes, most of the horse first aid stuff (like vet wrap) comes in handy for humans, make sure that you have a human first aid kit, too. Already have one? When was the last time you checked the expiration date on the medications in it? Those aren’t “recommendations”–if they are expired, throw them out (or if they are pills take them to your local pharmacy for disposal). NEVER throw medications down the drain.
At a minimum your first aid kit should have: pain reliever (Tylenol, Advil, etc), band-aids of various sizes, a snap ice pack, ace bandages, popsicle sticks (they make great splints for fingers), flexible tape, and triple antibiotic ointment.
2. Concussions should always be looked at. Helmets are great protectors but your brain is more delicate than an egg and they don’t like to be scrambled. After each fall your helmet should be replaced. (Some manufacturers offer trade-in discounts, check with yours if they offer this.) Here’s a great YouTube video with information about concussions.
3. Sprains and strains need ice, elevation, and pain relievers. If the pain and/or swelling worsens after 48 hours it’s time to be seen by a doc.
4. Make sure you are up to date on your shots. That way a little scratch doesn’t turn into something worse.
5. Most importantly, no competition is worth permanently injuring yourself. Popping, snapping, head bleeds, and fingers dangling in “funny” directions are NOT normal. Riding through the pain may make you look brave but at the end of the day is it worth potentially never being able to ride again?