Owners get helmets for riders in Matheran
Many horse owners have bought them on their own, while a resident of Mumbai has also donated some; the safety gear was made compulsory for riders by police in the aftermath of accidents
Riders wear the helmets bought by horse owners at Matheran
Horse riding in Matheran has inched closer to safety. Following the accident that seriously injured eight-year-old Rasheeda Hasan Radiowala of Mumbai, many horse owners have bought helmets for riders. About 190 helmets were also distributed to horse owners on Tuesday by Samir Bandekar, a resident of Mumbai. But the families of the victims say this is not enough.
Helmets made compulsory
After a spate of riding accidents in Matheran, horse owners introduced the safety gear for riders from Tuesday. mid-day has also learnt that helmets for horse riders have been made compulsory by the Matheran police after the April incident when Rasheeda was injured.
mid-day's exclusive interview with Rasheeda's family had revealed the extent of her injuries - two skull fractures, cuts to the side of her head and clots between her brain and skull - and their decision to not ride horses in Matheran until adequate safety measures were introduced.
Horse owners say
For many horse owners, this will be the first time their riders will wear helmets. "The roads here are not really developed and accidents often happen when least expected. I realised it was better to be prepared than regret later," said Yogesh Ghawre, who owns five horses.
"I placed an order for helmets after I read about the accident in April. My friends also requested me to order some for them," said Rakesh Kokale, another horse owner. "Riders are everything for us. The money we earn from them ensures our survival. We realised it was up to us to ensure their safety," added Kokale. "We realised it was essential to provide safety measures," said Ashatai Kadam, the president of Ashwapal Sanghatan, a union of horse riders in Matheran.
Bandekar, who often visits Matheran, decided to donate helmets, an idea that was on his mind since the first riding accident that he had read about four years back. "I have placed an order for 500 helmets with a manufacturer in New Delhi," he said.
Helmets not enough
But social activists asked why it had taken so long for the use of helmets, while families of victims said they were not enough. "Helmets should have been made compulsory years ago," said Suhasini Shinde, a social activist from Matheran.
"Helmets are not enough. The horse handlers also need adequate training for various situations, and licences. The hospital needs to be equipped," said Hasan Radiowala, Rasheeda's father. "The safety and development of the road and tracks are important. More so, as many a times the lives of children are at stake," said Mahendra Mistry, the father of Cooperage horse riding victim Janvi.
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