Taelor Toomey was just 23 when a horse accident left her with a traumatic brain injury.
Now, as the young horse lover aims to get strength and life back together, she’s keen to speak out about what riders can do to protect themselves.
Taelor won’t be advocating for everyone to wear helmets while mustering but she said she wished more people wore protection when riding for sport, such as campdrafting, and she’d like more high profile riders to wear helmets in a bid to make it ‘cool’ for young competitors.
“I don't want to say ‘when you go mustering you must wear a helmet’ because I never did,” she said.
“My accident happened because I was asked to get on the wrong horse that wasn't mine, that I didn't know and that didn't know me. But when I was 16 one of my best friends was killed at Mt Coolon campdraft. She had a helmet on but it wasn't done up tight enough so it came off before she hit the ground and she died in the arena although they put her on life support and didn't turn it off until the following day and she didn't start breathing like I did. That's why I've always drafted in a helmet.”
Taelor’s accident happened in November 2015 when she was walking a young mare at a property outside Springsure in central Queensland. The mare reared, and Taelor fell, striking her head.
With aircraft unable to reach her, Taelor was forced to wait four-and-a-half hours for an ambulance to arrive. She was unconscious the whole time. After a long and traumatic stay in hospital, Taelor is back in the saddle and working at getting her body to cooperate.
She is still unable to return properly to work as she is too fatigued, and she said that had been one of the hardest consequences of the accident.
Taelor is now working small, two hour shifts pouring beers, and hopes to start part time work this year.
”I am still very much recovering which has been long and very, very hard,” she said.
She said if there was one thing she wished more people in the agricultural industry were aware of, it would be the importance of insurance cover.
“The only way that I came out of this horrible accident with a bit of money in the bank is because my mother took out a trauma insurance cover... for me when I was 18,” she said. “Have your own insurance, don't ever trust anyone to cover you.”
Taelor said farm safety was about more than just helmets and signage – it was about practical things like using the right horse, and knowing your stock.
“I don’t want to say ‘wear a helmet to work’, I want to say – especially to girls – don’t leave your life in the hands of (someone) who tells you to ride the wrong horse or do something that you know there is a level of danger in doing.”
I want to say – especially to girls – don’t leave your life in the hands of (someone) who tells you to...do something that you know there is a level of danger in doing.