Equestrians’ mourn the loss of one of their peers

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Equestrians around the county and beyond are mourning the death of Diana Cavender of the Escondido Mounted Posse after a tragic accident after the Lakeside Western Days Parade on Saturday. As she and her fellow Posse members rode back to the staging area, her horse was spooked. An expert equestrian rider and trainer, she tried her best to get her horse under control, but it lost its footing and fell with Cavender, who suffered a traumatic blunt force injury to her head when it hit the pavement.

Equestrians around the county and beyond are mourning the death of Diana Cavender of the Escondido Mounted Posse after a tragic accident after the Lakeside Western Days Parade on Saturday. As she and her fellow Posse members rode back to the staging area, her horse was spooked. An expert equestrian rider and trainer, she tried her best to get her horse under control, but it lost its footing and fell with Cavender, who suffered a traumatic blunt force injury to her head when it hit the pavement.

This is truly a tragedy and my heart goes out to her family and the entire equestrian community. Although they might not live in the same area, this is a tight-knitted group of riders and performers, as they travel and perform together in many events throughout California and the nation. And this accident is hitting the equestrians very hard. Yet, as they will mourn the loss of one of their highly respected peers, the equestrian community understands. And Cavender, a member of the Posse for six years and with nearly 50 parades under her belt, died doing something she loved with a passion that only an equestrian can fully comprehend.

Any equestrian, whether an avid rider, involved in sports or performances know the risks of riding such magnificent creatures. No matter how trained, or how many performances, there is always the possibility of a horse getting spooked and out of the rider’s control. As sad as this is, this should not mar future performances and the use of equestrian riders in parades. This is a long held tradition in America, and here in East County we have many equestrians that ride in parades, compete in riding competitions, and spend their many hours in life with their horses. It is a bond that cannot be compared.

But this does bring up some safety issues. I am well aware that at any given time, especially in the setting of a parade, to keep a watchful eye, as you never know what might spook a horse, and if this happens during a parade, there is a plethora of people in the way. This year, as always, I station myself at the end of the parade as they turn off Maine Avenue heading towards staging areas. The crowd was thick with people, young children and dogs. With about seven dogs around me, all of them were well behaved, except for one. It was barking and lunging at every siren, loud engine and horse that came by. So much so that the owner of the dog had to keep a tight hold on its collar to keep it contained. Also, I saw parents letting young children run out, which is undeniably reckless. In watching this, I was on alert for a quick way out of harms way just in case. This is not a problem of the performers, this lies in the participants that come to the parade and with Lakeside being one of the largest equestrian parades, people should be more thoughtful in their actions.

It also brings up the safety issue of using helmets. I have been through this drill before with motorcycle riders, and honestly, I believe it ultimately should be up to the rider whether or not they want to use the protection of a helmet. At the recent Miss Rodeo Lakeside pageant, contestants were given an hour to come up with a three-minute speech. One of the topics was on helmet safety in rodeo. Many choose not to wear helmets, as it disturbs the image. But today’s technology has developed the hat helmet. The only way I can distinguish the difference is that during rodeo performances, those wearing a hat helmet, it stays on their head, even when bucked off. This new safety technology can be utilized in every area of equestrian performances. I’m sure they can even be gussied up for the more colorful, or vintage performers. Just like motorcycles and other impact sports, it is proven that helmets can save lives and prevent traumatic injuries when used. I never fault a person who chooses not to use a helmet, but as this issue becomes greater, it is my hope that the newer generation of equestrians will come around and that the technology of hat helmets will provide various styles of them, so that any genre of equestrian performances can still keep its theme in tact and provide an extra cushion of protection for the rider.

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