LIFELINE: Farmer Angie Snell on her quad bike with one of her working dogs. Angie said after a severe spinal injury, a quad bike is the only way she can still work on the land.
LIFELINE: Farmer Angie Snell on her quad bike with one of her working dogs. Angie said after a severe spinal injury, a quad bike is the only way she can still work on the land. Contributed

Quad bike a blessing for farmer with spinal injury

A HORSE riding accident 20 years ago left Angie Snell dependant on using a quad bike to work the land.

Last week the ACCC proposed major changes to improve the safety of quad bikes, including requiring manufactures to integrate an operator protection device, such as a roll bar, in the design of new bikes.

Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, Miss Snell spent school holidays on her grandparent's property in the Lockyer Valley.

While mustering cattle at Mt Mort at 13, Miss Snell came down a hill to cross what she thought was a dry bog hole, instead it was a metre deep, the horse's legs got stuck and it summersaulted and crushed her.

She was left with two crushed vertebrae.

After four months recovering in the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane, the then-teenager learnt to do everything for herself again.

She was told she would never walk again.

"I thought I had a broken leg to begin with, I wasn't overly scared, I was more worried about my horse," she said.

"But by the time I got to hospital I couldn't feel either of my legs.

"I walked out of hospital, well I use the term walk pretty loosely," she joked.

Nine months later she was back on a horse.

Miss Snell completed a Certificate III in agriculture production at Dalby Ag College, afterwards she moved south to Coonamble in northern New South Wales to work on various properties - driving harvesters and roustabouting.

While Miss Snell isn't bound to a wheelchair, she still heavily relies on crutches to get around.

"I started using a quad bike to feed my horses," she said.

"The shed is a fair distance from the horse paddocks, getting the hay to them was exhausting.

"A bloke down the road gave me a quad bike, it was a life saver.

"I soon realised how much I could do with a quad bike - the freedom it gives you.

"I can't stay on a horse for long periods of time, so I use the quad bike to move stock."

Miss Snell said it's "practically impossible" for her to use a ute or a side by side vehicle to do the work she does on her quad bike.

"You don't have to get in or out to open and shut a gate," she said.

"When you're in a lot of pain, the hay is right behind you, you don't have to get off the bike to give it to the horses.

"The quad bike is just a whole lot more accessible for me and even the installation of a roll bar would limit my use."

Now back in Queensland, living on a block of land in the Lockyer Valley, Miss Snell rides a new quad bike, funded by a crowdfunding campaign last year.

"I think it's ridiculous they want to legislate against quad bikes," she said.

"You can't legislate against stupidity.

"If you are sensible on a quad bike, they are safe.

"I got hurt by falling off a horse and it seriously affected my whole life, I never once called for horses to be banned."

The ACCC claims quad bike accidents result in an average of 16 deaths in Australia each year.

To help reduce the deaths and injuries associated with quad bikes, the ACCC is proposing a mandatory safety standard.

Have your say on the proposed changes at www.accc.gov.au.



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