Roger Thompson: Horsin’ Around 4-4-11 |

Roger Thompson: Horsin’ Around 4-4-11

My good friend and instructor, Yvonne South, called me the other night. It was late and I was upset about not getting to bed until she told me the story about her 10-year-old son Riley. I know this is the second article about horses and head injuries but after Yvonne’s call I feel it can not be ignored.

I have worked with Riley at Rodeo Bible Camps for the past three or four years. He even rode my old horse, Nugget, when he was thinking about learning to rope. Riley is a good horseman and listens to every word an instructor tells him about improving his skills.

On Sunday, September 21, Yvonne, Riley and his dad, Randy, had taken their horses to a neighbor’s arena to enjoy some fall weather and get some riding done. Riley, with his new 4-year-old horse, Bear, was making a few practice barrel racing runs. As he turned the third barrel Bear lost his footing and went down.

As Bear got up, Riley’s foot became entrapped in the stirrup. While the horse stood and shook himself the boy attempted to free his foot from the stirrup. Then the horse spooked and ran, kicking wildly at the object dragging along side. The horse ran for about 100 feet before kicking Riley free of the stirrup.

Yvonne and Randy ran to where Riley’s body lay crumpled on the arena floor. The boy was making a whimpering sound while blood streamed from the back of his head and his, blank staring, eyes rolled to the right (a sure sign of brain injury). Yvonne and Randy dropped to their knees beside their son and prayed that God would save Riley’s life, and then called for an ambulance.

In the ambulance and hospital while professionals worked on him, Riley became combative and repeated; “Good morning” and “Stop Bear, stop.” Yvonne and dad stayed with Riley all night until he came to at about 3:00 a.m., and displayed rational behavior. Riley suffered a skull fracture, laceration of the skull, bruised lung, and many abrasions and contusions but was alive. He has progressed well enough to return home to recuperate.

Yvonne is adamant that two things saved Riley’s life: First, God’s almighty healing, and second is the riding helmet Riley has worn since age of 6-weeks-old while horse back. Riley South is a competitor and has set the pace for others to follow and is a champion in every sense of the word. At this writing, Riley is back out in the corral making friends with his beloved Bear.

* NOTE: After seeing the photos, CEO Richard Timms, MD of the Troxel Company, returned a note to the South family. In that letter he stated that there are about 200 deaths per year while riding and about 20-times that many serious, disabling head injuries. He claimed that the company has placed 2,000,000 helmets in the field and there has not been a single death from a head injury while wearing one of their helmets, a record unequalled in the industry.


Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.

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