Posted by: rstor | October 18, 2011

Susi Rogers Hartley gives her take on riding accidents & talks photography in this month’s Local Rider column…

Popular Para rider Susi Rogers Hartley is launching a competition – find out how to enter here…

Susi Rogers Hartley sustained a spinal injury thirteen years ago that caused paraplegia; she is one of an increasing growing group of riders competing in Para Show Jumping competitions, open to physically disabled and visually impaired riders. However, unusually, as well as being a Grade 1 Para show jumper, Susi also competes in Para dressage competitions – she has classification as a Grade 1b Para dressage rider.

Susi recently competed at the inaugural British Dressage Para Home International Team Championship at Vale View EC in Leicestershire, and Susi’s team came fifth. She is a wonderfully inspiring and dedicated rider – here’s some information about a forthcoming project she is launching:

“Frustratingly, my electric wheelchair broke down again recently – it is very temperamental – but without it, I’m unable to do my horses, which really depresses me,” Susi says. “I have seen a new one from Australia which has the same seat-raise specifications as mine, is said to be very robust, and can cope being rained on! The electronics are greatly simplified.

“So, I am launching a competition to help boost my wheelchair fund – the team behind the RS-tor rider safety aid is inviting people to submit a high resolution photo that shows themselves safely enjoying their horse-riding. Any discipline / activity applies! The winning photos will be used on a calendar that will be available for sale in due course. Please email your photos to together with a caption for the photo, and your name and contact details. We need to receive them by 31st October please, and all photos will be displayed online as well – professional and amateur images are welcome.”

Para riders out of action

I have been concerned to read about two incidences recently whereby leading riders fell from their horses. World Class Performance Para Equestrian Ricky Balshaw (aged 24) was out of action for approximately ten weeks following a schooling accident at home this summer. Riding his potential 2012 horse Lenherr Rocco, Ricky fell off when the horse was spooked while he was warming down on a long rein after a schooling session.  A trip to hospital for X-rays and an MRI scan revealed Ricky has 25% compressions and fractures to two vertebrae (L3 and L5) in his lower back.

He is expected to be back in the saddle in September. Ricky is the second British Para Grade Ib rider to sustain a back injury this year, as team mate Lee Pearson was taken out of action in June, when he crushed three vertebrae in a fall from his horse during a training session.

I am fully aware of the dangers to all riders, and Ricky and Lee’s accidents illustrate the fact that many serious accidents and injuries occur when schooling, in an enclosed area. We strongly advocate the RS-tor rider safety aid’s use to all riders, but especially those with young or unpredictable horses. In a situation like Ricky’s (when he was unseated and then fall gradually as the horse took off) the RS-tor can actually help the rider fall more safely, with many riders who use it ‘choreographing their fall’ and managing to fall on their feet, or fall into a roll. Imagine the difference when comparing this scenario to falling directly onto the head or back, and experiencing a catastrophic injury to the back and spine. We wish Ricky and Lee all the best on their road to recovery.

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