Take an audit of the horse facebook pages, blogs, and websites and you’ll find copious numbers of photos. Now just look at the horse and rider photos. Adults and children riding horses in their backyard, in the arena, around barrels, on the trails, jumping, dressage, and even bareback. Take a good look at a few of these photos and tell me what you notice about them….about the riders. Notice anything?
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate the horses in these photos. These creatures are truly magnificent; They listen and follow their human often a tenth it’s size. What we must also recognize is that regardless of its training a horse is still a prey animal with an innate nature toward flight, not fight. Given the right (or should I say WRONG) circumstances this half ton giant will quickly become dangerous.
Have you ever tripped? Horses do too…they even fall down. We often get complacent and take their docile manner for granted, and that’s when perilous mistakes are made.
Now, back to the riders. What’s present (or absent) from their apparel? More specifically their heads?
That’s it….A HELMET
This has been such a huge topic of conversation lately as the horse world continues to witness fatal accidents; debates over this simple device frequently get people heated on social media.
For most, wearing a helmet is ultimately up to the rider Let me be quite clear….the decision not to wear a helmet is merely a decision. A helmet-less rider is no better nor worse than a helmeted rider…but it isn’t my choice.
In 2010 the International Helmet Awareness Day began in response to a horrible accident that nearly cost an Olympian’s life. A couple years after riding for the US in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Courtney King Dye rode at home when her horse tripped and went down. Dye fell with her mount, hit her head and was in a coma for a month. She survived but she has limited use of her body due to the trauma sustained by her brain. [Sidenote: This woman is an inspiration; she continues to contribute to the horse world while raising her children; she is committed to para-dressage, she trains other riders, and she is active in donating her time to several programs for dressage riders. Visit ckddressage.com for more information about Courtney]. This horrific event inspired a movement to spread awareness for helmet safety.
The truth of it is, so many lives have been saved by simply wearing a helmet. When I was ten I took lessons at a local farm and the rule was that kids must wear helmets anytime they are handling a horse.
That means that I wore my helmet grooming and tacking up as well as riding. This rule saved me from a pretty nasty gash on the top of my head. It was an ordinary day when I showed up to the barn. I stepped into my breeches, zipped up my riding boots, and I snapped on my helmet. I went to the stall to grab Rita, a fiery chestnut mare who was so tall I needed an adult to brush her back and saddle her. I was cleaning her front right hoof when I felt a knock on my helmet and the immediate fussing of my mom as she witnessed Rita’s shod hind hoof make contact with my head. In the summer heat Rita was swatting a fly with her leg and had inadvertently clipped my helmet. Luckily I was completely unscathed and proceeded to my lesson.
My story is a menial drop in the bucket compared to others that I’ve read and heard about. Ask anybody who actively rides…it won’t be difficult to find someone who is still alive and well because of their helmet. I know a few…and if you’re reading this I’m so glad you wore that helmet because I have the pleasure of knowing you and having you in my life! This is why I choose to wear a helmet when I ride.
This weekend is the aforementioned International Helmet Awareness Day…September 16 & 17. That means that you’ll be able to get your hands on some great helmets at great discounts. To find out where to get up to 30% off, visit Riders4Helmets.com and choose your location. This site also provides you with fantastic information and educational resources.
Tell us your story! How has a helmet saved you? How has not wearing a helmet affected your life?