This week there was a photo of Queen Elizabeth riding at age 85. Bless her heart; she has always been a lover of horses. She was wearing her usual outdoor head wear- a scarf. There was some internet banter about the missing helmet.
I notice her family members wearing helmets for polo; perhaps she falls into that category of riders who think that some equine events require helmets, but not others. It’s the ‘Sometimes Dangerous’ argument. I used to use it myself.
But that’s an absurd helmet excuse. And now I am making excuses for the Queen! It’s silly because there are no excuses. The research is in and the potential danger is undeniable. Everyone agrees: the NFL, UCI, NHL, Nascar, Motocross- the professionals wear helmets. And last year, the USEF rule, although some of us lag behind. Helmet wear has to be considered common sense at this point, right?
“Common sense is very uncommon.” Horace Greeley
The Queen gets a wry smile from me, riding at 85. Old habits die hard; at this point, she isn’t likely to give up riding or take up helmet wearing. And just like the Queen, lots of us don’t respond well to being told what to do. I am a bit protective of her and I cringe whenever I see a rider with a naked head. If the Queen wore a helmet, I guess I would be more comfortable.
I think the gold medal absurd helmet excuse is fear of helmet hair. Really? Bad hair? Have you checked your jacket for horse dander and spit? And what’s that green stuff on your boot?
Do you really think an attractive single man is going to (#1) wander into the barn and (#2) decide to not marry you because of helmet hair? Really?
Stop making women look simple and foolish! Horsemanship is not about lounging in the barn in expensive breeches, sipping chardonnay, and having a good hair day.
If I am brought down by tough judging, then I will take my lumps and work harder. If I am brought down by helmet hair, I should get a new hobby. Like shopping.
At the risk of being called sexist for picking on women, I’ll also challenge men who think their manhood is defined by a cowboy hat.
Just for one minute- can we get past our own surface vanity and take some pride in what we are doing- rather than how we look doing it? Better to strap one on, ride well, and grow some character. Accomplish something you can be proud of.
People who are long term relationship material love a helmet, so if you actually do ride horses to attract a date (?), at the very least- you will attract someone worthy of you. And at the most…you will raise common sense above debates about beauty and fashion. I applaud that!
And because I am an equal opportunity blame-pointer, let’s talk about me. I don’t think I further the pro-helmet cause if I am sitting on my High Horse and judging others. It’s a barn version of racial profiling. I admit it. My heart jumps into my throat when I see a kid riding without a helmet. I am not proud to admit that when I see a professional without a helmet, it changes how I think them as well. Again, my bad.
Every year the excuses for not wearing a helmet sound a bit more lame. The groundless debate continues; we are a stubborn crowd. I do wish we respected horses more, and our work with them. Mostly, I wish common sense was more common.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.