Helmet Advice from Your Horse.

Tomorrow is International Helmet Awareness Day. I usually mark the day by writing about horses and helmets.

Every year I read greater numbers of moving testimonials about lives saved, written by grateful survivors who live to ride another day. Courtney King-Dye is more inspirational than ever. Cute photos of kids in helmets are common. Helmet technology and design is evolving, my new one is light and comfortable. On a good day, it feels like more people are riding with helmets.  Sometimes I think there is nothing more to write, but then I look around…

In Colorado, we have a youth riding group founded over 40 years ago. They’re quite famous, performing about 50 events a year, galloping in costume with no helmets. How is this possible? Did I mention they are kids? I can’t watch a minute.

Youth riders don’t always get a lot of help from the adults and Western riders seem to be coming along slower than other disciplines. I am not sure why, they are very bright people, as well as accomplished horsemen. What’s the hold up? I know the hat carries a history and an image, but so does my top hat.

In dressage, top hats are a sign of accomplishment- you have to earn the right to wear one. Cowboy hats aren’t quite the same. Any tourist driving through can buy one, along with a rubber tomahawk.

But neither hat is safe in the saddle and such a silly argument assumes that there is a debate. And there is no debate. We all know head injuries are bad. We all know horses can be dangerous. We all know someone who has been hurt.

We also know that helmet wearers aren’t sissies. Think Football. Hockey. Baseball. Motocross. Bike Racing. Nascar. Skiing. Any X-game (skateboard, snowboard, bmx, etc). Equestrian sports fit into this category more than that other category with Golf. Bowling. Table Tennis. Croquet. Tiddly Winks.

Aww, geez. Now I am poking sports that don’t need helmets. See, this is how the adversity begins. Again, really silly, since there is no debate about helmets and safety. It’s all been said- again and again. Even the rules are changed.

I know I am preaching to the choir here, history tells me that most of my readers are confirmed helmet users. If there is a naked headed rider reading this, encouragement to wear a helmet is the last thing you want to hear. I know, because I used to be you. I also know you won’t listen to me, because you haven’t listened to your loved ones already. You’ve made a choice and probably aren’t any more open-minded about helmet wear than I am.

But I don’t think that you’re foolish to ride with a naked head. I think the choice is more like being willful. Some of us just don’t like to surrender.

Would you be more prone to listen a horse? What would a horse say?

Do all you can to protect your herd family. Do all you can to survive. We need you.

When we’re riding and you ask me to do something, I give to pressure like you taught me. Because we’re partners and giving to pressure feels like cooperating. Maybe you could give the helmet thing a try? For us if not you…

Maybe you could think of a helmet for your head the way I think of horse shoes for my hooves?

Anna Blake, Infinity Farms.

Other helmet posts:

Hard Hats and Hard Heads.

Helmets and Freedom.

Absurd Helmet Excuses.

2 thoughts on “Helmet Advice from Your Horse.

  1. I grew up riding western. Barrel raced a LOT, took risks that (today) make my hands sweat just thinking about them. I never wore a helmet. It was never suggested or encouraged. But like you, we grew up in an era where elbow, knee pads and helmets … basically any sort of safety equipment for most sports, didn’t even exist. I remember buying sheets of copper from the school art department, bending them to make a shin guard and taping those puppies to my shins to keep from splitting my shins open when/if I hit a barrel. I have the scars to prove what an oversight it was not to have any safety gear for that sport. I didn’t start wearing a helmet until I was 54 and came off a new horse. It had been some 20 years since I’d been tossed on my keester and it was a rude awakening. I don’t think you’ll see many western riders don helmets until they make it mandatory for every western show class, and you know it will be a cold day in hell before the western hat industry votes for that. They should start by allowing western riders to choose to wear a helmet in any of their classes without inuring a penalty for breaking the fashion code. Seems like a no-brainer to me (pun intended), but again, I doubt the good ‘ole boys will vote for (little own suggest) that. But hey, you keep right on preachin’ it. You never know who you might reach.

    1. Thanks, and your comment makes my shins hurt! I agree, just because we survived it is no reason to not evolve a bit. I am on a young horse now, happy for a helmet.

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