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Hondo woman thrown from horse at HCSNA

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

An unidentified Hondo woman suffered serious injuries when she was thrown from her horse while trail riding at the Hill Country State Natural Area Saturday afternoon.

The accident occurred around 2:45 pm on April 7.

According to Park Superintendent Paul Fuentes, the victim was an individual who had brought her own horse to the park, which is noted for its extensive equestrian trails.

"Apparently the horse spooked and the saddle rolled off to the side, throwing the woman off," said Fuentes.
According to Bandera County Sheriff's Department dispatch records, the call came in at 2:41 pm. After they arrived on scene and examined the victim, Bandera County EMS opted to call in Air-Life. She was flown to a San Antonio hospital.

All deputies at the scene were again available by 3:28, dispatch reported.

In addition to park staff and law enforcement officers, responders to the scene included Bandera County EMS, and crews from the Bandera and Tarpley Volunteer Fire Departments.

Dispatch records indicate the 911 call reported the victim was unconscious and had fallen from her horse.

Fuentes praised the efficient response of his staff to the incident. "We conduct reviews regarding first aid and CPR with training on a quarterly basis," said Fuentes. "We coordinate the training with the EMS." The regular training keeps his staff ready to respond quickly in case of emergencies.

Emergencies occur with some frequency, as can be expected with the park's focus on outdoor activities involving horseback riding, mountain bike riding and hiking.

"We have our incidents," said Fuentes. "There are broken bones, people getting knocked out, sprained ankles, cuts, sunburn and insect bites. They're just part of the inherent risk when you have outdoor activities."

However, major accidents like Saturday's are thankfully rare, said Fuentes. "In my 13 years here, I like to say 'everybody made it out.'"
Fuentes also had high praise for Bandera County EMS, both for assisting with staff preparedness and training, as well as their handling of the emergency. "Our EMS services are really first rate," he said. "They always respond within 15 minutes."

Staff procedures were carefully followed Saturday. "Someone goes to the site, someone calls EMS, someone meets them at the gate and guides them in," said Fuentes. "It's all practiced and planned ahead."

Although HCSNA has 40 miles of multi-use trails on over 5,000 acres, the park is designed to insure that emergency vehicles have access to all of the trails. Saturday's accident happened about a half mile from the park headquarters.
HCSNA was acquired in 1976 and opened to the public in 1984. Most of the property was a gift of the Merrick Bar-O-Ranch with the stipulation that it "be kept far removed and untouched by modern civilization, where everything is preserved intact, yet put to a useful purpose." A small portion of the park was purchased by the state.

The "no frills" park has proven popular with people who enjoy primitive camping, backpacking, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, equestrian camping, flora and fauna observation, and limited swimming and fishing across a landscape of rocky hills, oak groves, grasslands, and canyons.

Pictured: Courtesy photo HCSNA
Visitors to Hill Country State Natural area almost always enjoy a trouble-free visit. However, a Hondo woman was air-lifted from the park Saturday afternoon following a fall from her horse.