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My hat saved my life

Surrey based horse rider Holly Williams has spoken out after a freak accident left her in a coma, and thanks her riding hat for saving her life.

Holly tells her story, “The last thing I remember was walking to the gate to turn my horse out. Then it completely went black. From what happened to my hat and the damage I have to the brain, it looked like my horse kicked me in the back of the head.”

Holly fell on a public footpath and a walker found her on the ground, where she was having a fit. The peak of Holly's hat was buried into the ground.


"I don’t normally wear a hat for handling horses but that day I couldn't be bothered to take my hat off. I would have died instantly if I hadn’t been wearing my hat.

I'm so lucky I didn't die, the hat took the majority of the impact.”


In and out of consciousness 

Holly was taken to her local hospital, "I went straight into resus and had scans where they found the brain leak. My body wasn't responding because it was starting to shut down, meaning I was slowly dying. They started getting drips into my body, trying to wake me up.

I was in and out of consciousness but I remember waking up and being like, 'what the hell, where am I?' It was like a film, I couldn't feel my body. I remember the doctor standing over me and looking at her and then I remember blacking out again.

And then I woke up again, I couldn't tell you if it was days or hours later, but I was still there. I thought, 'maybe if I shut my eyes it will just be a dream'. I opened them again and remember thinking, 'I'm still here, something's wrong'.

I felt so cold.

Once I was conscious I had to re-learn to do basic things again and my speech was very slurred. The words were there but I couldn't say them, it was massively frustrating.

It has taken me six months to recover, but I will live with the effects of a brain bleed for life.

I wanted to share my experience to warn other people to be more aware of how they handle horses.

We all think we know our horses because they are familiar to us, but it only takes a split second to change your life. You might worry that you look stupid if you wear a hat and other people don’t, but wearing a hat saved my life and I couldn't be any more grateful.”

Thank you Holly for sharing your story. Working with horses can be high risk and accidents do happen but make sure that you are safe with the correct protective wear and a suitable personal accident insurance policy and to protect your livelihood. 

Get bespoke insurance for grooms here.






What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
  • Riding – including hacking and jumping
  • Hunting
  • Lunging
  • Breaking in
  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
  • Travelling horses both in the UK and abroad
  • Competing in line with your job including: jumping, dressage, eventing
  • Injuries that may happen to you whilst you are teaching - but you must also be grooming as part of your duties and not be a sole instructor

What the personal accident policy doesn’t cover you for:

  • Riding in a race, point to point or team chase
  • Stunt Riding
  • Accidents occurring whilst travelling to and from work
  • Riding and competing your own horse (but you can upgrade when applying for membership to include this)
  • Public Liability – this is a separate insurance policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance
  • Care Custody and Control – this is a separate policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance

If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.


When you are working for other people you do most of the following; muck out, turn out/catch in, tack up, groom horses, exercise Horses (including hacking, jumping and schooling), in the care of your employer/client.




Predominantly ride horses for other people including schooling, exercising and competing.   

 Provide grooming services for someone else either full time or on a freelance basis i.e. an employer or a client.   


Employ staff – have an employers liability policy in your name NO NO YES
Buy and sell horses NO YES YES

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