with Horse and Hound

The Accident that Saved Countless Concussions

 caroline.comic relief.leslie tCaroline Treviranus and Comic Relief / Leslie Treviranus photo

Caroline Treviranus and Comic Relief were an experienced horse/rider team at the 1978 World Championship Three-Day competition in Lexington, Kentucky. It was Caroline’s second World Championships representing the United States, and she had ridden Comic Relief to Horse of the Year status two years earlier.

As the pair entered the stadium jumping arena for the third and final phase of the competition—having completed the dressage and cross country phases—they were standing in fifth place. A few minutes later Caroline lay unconscious in the grass, bare-headed. Her hunt cap—traditional headgear for all show riders at the time—had parted company with her in mid-air, and a whirling fence rail struck her head.

What followed was evacuation by helicopter, two weeks in a coma, and months of rehabilitation for Caroline. What resulted in quick succession for the rest of us were mandates by the United States Pony Club, the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA), and the American Horse Shows Association for the wearing of approved safety helmets. Eventually, as riders became used to wearing safety helmets, their use was adopted by foxhunters and approved as acceptable, indeed recommended attire.

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