Thankfully, I did.
I went on a nonchalant trail ride with some barn friends this afternoon. It was very windy and I requested that we keep it slow, because this would only be Harley's second ride since being well. And we did keep it slow. The ride was uneventful with minimal trotting and mostly walking along very familiar terrain. Harley led for most of the trip and did a cute, little trail trot. I could sit it like a cowgirl and pick our way around trees and puddles. I did not want to foster an exciting atmosphere since the wind was kicking up and some horses find this tempting for naughtiness. Somewhere in the second half of the ride, we switched position and a different horse was in the lead. We all decided to trot and before we really got anywhere there was a thunder of hooves and a yell to stop. Just as we halted I heard the characteristic thud of someone biting the dust. Although I do not hear that sound very often, it always makes my hairs stand on end. Is the rider okay? Who fell?
I turned around to see that my friend behind us had fallen and this was a surprise, because she has the calmest trail horse in the bunch. He is absolutely reliable and steadfast. She was probably the last one that I expected to see on the ground. Thankfully, all of us stopped our horses right away, so there was no danger of her getting run over and she was wearing a helmet (We ALL do, EVERY ride.). Another friend was already off her horse and crouching over the fallen rider. Meanwhile, I turned my horse to block her mount and grabbed his reins.
My friend on the ground was mostly okay, but reported that her ankle was hurt almost immediately. I suggested that she just be still for a moment and rest before she moved. You always want to take it slow, just in case something else is hurt. After we all stood our horses and chilled out for a minute, she sat up and found that she could not put weight on her ankle. Something was definitely wrong.
I have a nice little inside pocket in my riding jacket that is perfect for a cell phone. I try to remember to always keep my phone in this pocket when I am working in the barn, riding in the ring, and especially out trail riding. My previous riding jacket actually had the label "phone" on the same inside pocket. I thought that this was a nice safety hint for anyone purchasing the jacket.
I handed my friend's mount to the dismounted rider who was assisting her and I pulled out my cell phone and thumbed through the contacts as quickly as I could. I called the barn owner and, thankfully, she was still home. We told her we were going out, so she knew that a call from me was probably an emergency. After a quick explanation of our location, she drove the Gator out and picked up our friend, towing her naughty mount alongside the motorized vehicle. We were fortunate to have been in a vehicle-accessible part of the trail and to only have to report a "minor" injury. Of course, my friend did injure her right foot, which means that she cannot drive. Let's hope that she suffered a bad bruise, rather than the other options. Her family came to pick her up and take her to the doctor as soon as they made it back to the farm.
I highly recommend always bringing a cell phone when riding out on the trail. I have heard a few things about the dangers of falling on one's cell phone or the horse being spooked by a ring tone, but I feel that both of these warnings are rare or avoidable: make like the movies and put your phone on vibrate! It is important to have a means to call for help, whether it be from the trail or from the barn, because accidents can happen there, too. Despite our careful, non-yahoo intentions, a fall still happened even on a relaxed trail outing. There have been so many more exciting rides, with lots of trotting and cantering in a big group, that have ended without incident, so you never know when the unexpected could happen. And sometimes the unexpected includes the quietest horse in the bunch kicking up his heels!