Helmets: When Complacency and Experience are Killers.

“She had a helmet on and she still got hurt,” the woman said. Well, sure. I take vitamins and I’m still getting older.

If this is logic, then I’m missing the point. I write about the importance of helmets every year; this is the eighth since Courtney King-Dye’s accident and the founding of riders4helmets. Lots of us wore helmets full-time long before that.

To be clear, I wasn’t born in a helmet. When I was a kid, we didn’t have tack, much less helmets. But I’m capable of change. Apparently, that’s a bigger deal than I think; the common reason I hear for not using a helmet is that they never wore them in the past. I didn’t use a cell phone back then either. I changed.

When I’m able to talk helmets with that helmet-resistant rider quietly, they usually give the same reason. With a self-effacing smile, they admit the reason is probably ego. An uncomfortable silence follows. Sometimes I stare, wondering if ego is usually the thing that gets in the way of us caring about our loved ones.

In earlier posts, I’ve ranted about freak accidents and logic. That’s silly, of course. All the statistics are undeniable. Everyone knows everything. Maybe I should be happy that kids think of helmets as part of their riding/superhero costume and just bite my tongue.

I can’t because I’m a horse advocate. I disagree with riders who think what’s on the outside of their head is more important than protecting what’s inside; their intellect, personality, and most important to their horse, the ability to buy hay. What does it mean to have concern for horse slaughter or the plight of the mustangs but take your own life for granted? Why not do all you can to be there for your horse (if not your loved ones)?

I can hear their defiant anti-helmet proclamation. Well, I’m not afraid to die on horseback either. What I’m afraid of is NOT dying. I couldn’t bear living without horses.

International Helmet Awareness Day 2017 (Sept 16th and 17th) is your chance to purchase a new helmet at a special two-day only discount from one of hundreds of participating retailers in 16 countries. Visit http://bit.ly/2xM4EYJ to locate a retailer near you #IHAD #riders4helmets

The new statistic that caught my eye this year is a study conducted by a team of Alberta researchers found that riders who reported an injury had an average of 27 years of riding experience. New riders had a relatively small incidence of injury.

It rings true for me. In my extended circle of riders, there were several injuries this past year. Some were quite serious. Some took place on the ground or at the mounting block. All the injured were experienced horse people with many years in the saddle. The beginners were just fine.

So I speculate. I see a lot of complacency in the horse world. It’s a luxury I can’t afford as a pro. I must keep my focus at all times; I need to see the world with an equine range of vision. Training horses and riders requires awareness. I’m always surprised at the number of times I witness riders unaware of obviously dangerous situations.  I’d call it a passive disrespect of their horses. Sometimes they don’t know better, even after a life with horses. Sometimes it’s laziness. And sometimes we just get bull-headed as we age, set in our ways and unwilling to grow or learn. I suppose there is a certain cosmic balance to getting a head injury from not using your head.

For me, I’m trained to see patterns in horse behaviors and human behaviors. When I see a rider defend their ego, or even just close their minds toward helmets, safety, and common knowledge, how does that reflect on their training methods? How does it reflect on their horses?

I understand how difficult it is to change. Looking back, horses have asked me to change everything about myself. I resisted; it was hard and once you start, the learning never ends. But I still see horses through the eyes of that little horse-crazy girl. The rest of me has changed as horses have asked me to. Like most of us who have applied ourselves, I’m a better person for their equine input. It took another species to teach me humanity. If nothing else, I want to be around to enjoy that, sound in mind, for as long as I can.


I’ll finish this post with the usual list of important information, in hopes that it might make a difference to the people who can make a difference…

Stats and sources:

  • Equestrians are 20x more likely to sustain an injury than a motorcycle rider, per hour.
  • 60 number of deaths/year due to head injury (compared with 8 for Football)
  • 60% of riding fatalities occur from head injuries.
  • 15,000 number of ER admissions for equine-related head injuries in 2009.
  • 2 feet number of feet at which head injury can occur.

45% of TBI (traumatic brain injuries) are horse related. Riding is considered more dangerous than motorcycling or downhill skiing. Approximately 20% of accidents which result in head injury happen while the person is on the ground. They are just as common in professionals as amateurs.

If you have a hard impact blow while wearing your hat, immediately replace it with a new hat. There may be damage to the hat that is not visible to the naked eye.Hat manufacturers generally recommend replacing your hat every four to five years. There is a sale on now.

There is no statistical correlation between skill level and injury likelihood. Professional riders are just as at risk to sustain injury due to a fall as less frequent riders. Head injuries are cumulative. An original head injury can be made much worse by additional concussions. Your injury risk depends on the height from which fall, as well as the speed at which you’re traveling. Even a fall from a standing horse can be catastrophic.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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77 thoughts on “Helmets: When Complacency and Experience are Killers.

  1. I’m one of those that grew up never seeing a helmet for pleasure riding, bicycle riding, etc. etc. and what I like about not wearing a helmet is the feeling of the wind going through my hair when cantering out in the fields. However, I did adapt to change. It hasn’t been easy. It has taken thought to remember to remember. Thanks for caring and continuing the effort to try to find the words that work for others of us old timers, and the young, “it will never happen to me”s.

  2. Dianna Stephens

    I can’t remember how I came across you (60) but I’m really glad I did. Hope we can meet someday. I enjoy and look forward to your blogs. Thank you!

  3. Maggie Frazier

    Years ago I watched a friend of mine take a fall. She was the gal who ALWAYS wore a helmut! This time she had a slight concussion & cracked a couple ribs – her hardhat had a crack in it. Of course she replaced it as soon as she came back to the barn. This barn had a hack-line – at that time no demand for helmuts!
    My grandchildren (3) all learned to ride on my horse & all wore helmuts from the beginning. After one of them asked why I didnt wear one – I thought, yeah why dont I? Now it seems ridiculous that anyone would take a chance on a head injury – especially experienced riders.
    Like you, I rode as a kid – had no idea there were such things!!!! I still know people who just would refuse to wear one – after all, they ride western – know what I mean? As if just because they have that horn & deeper seat – they cant possibly fall off or get fallen on.

  4. Michele

    OUTSTANDING article! ALL riders who ride on our ranch have to wear a helmet, regardless of how many years experience they may have. Bottom line; no helmet, no ride!

  5. Ginny Paschke

    I may look (enter your own word here) but I look better in a helmet than in a wheelchair. There are a lot more things worse than dying.

    1. Janet Guckel

      I rode motorcycles for years and within certain motorcycling disciplines the helmet style is a useless bowl type thing that sits atop one’s head. Fellow female riders would complain that a full face helmet ruined their hair, to which I would reply, “you’d look worse without a chin.”

      The looks over sense trend is still popular. In Arizona (no helmet laws) it is typical to see a motorcyclist covered neck to toes in multiple layers of leather, denim and studs with a completely naked (and, apparently, empty) head.

  6. Lynell Abbott

    I have always worn a helmet. I think most women don’t like them because they mess up their hair-do’s. Fortunately, for me, my hair always looks “bad,” so wearing a helmet doesn’t matter!
    Wait, there’s more! After reading your blog, I have decided to start wearing my helmet while picking out my horses’ feet. I do their feet while all are at liberty. And while all of them are very cooperative, I still feel vulnerable when one decides to join the horse that is getting worked on.
    Thanks for this important reminder that injuries more likely happen on the ground than in the saddle.

  7. Joan Spence

    I never wore a helmet as a kid, never heard of them. Not for bikes or even hockey for Pete’s sake.

    But as an adult I always wear one, even in summer when I need to add a neckerchief as a headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I wore a helmet doing early ground work with the Peach because she was so high energy and unpredictable back then.

    The helmets I chose were as muted and low profile as possible. Then I saw an ad by “the bubble head” helmet maker promoting these glorious wild*ss helmets and I couldn’t resist, “Wear it Loud and Wear it Proud!”. My helmet IS a reflection of my ego.

    Of course our kids and their kids wear helmets even when “only” being ponied in the round pen. Because we love each other and treasure our health far more than our egos or hairstyles.

  8. Tracey Sands

    You hit every single point that needed to be made in this discussion. I especially like the one about staying alive and healthy to care for our horses so that they don’t end up in the slaughter pipeline. That threat is so much more concrete than many people realise. I’m also a latecomer to helmets. When I was a child, we’d hang our helmets on jump standards during lessons and only put them on when the jumping started. My helmet epiphany came when my best friend took a nasty fall during a lesson and we spent 8 hours in the ER. Thankfully, she fell on her hip, and not her unhelmeted head. Nonetheless, we made a pact that day that neither of us will sit on a horse without a helmet. Thanks too for the reminder about replacing our helmets every few years. I think mine is about due!

  9. Janet Guckel

    I made a pact with my motorcycle enthusiast husband, neither one of us would EVER engage in our hobbies without proper protection. I’m a HUGE helmet advocate.

    Most of the people I see being cavalier about this essential piece of equipment are the most seasoned equestrians, especially trainers. I try to be a persistent, yet gentle voice of reason…no one likes a nag, but this seems to be a topic where people, especially seasoned horse people, throw up a lot of resistance…even after I tell them of how the family friend who introduced me and my sisters to horses when we were all kids died at the age of 60 in an otherwise uneventful fall off a horse she was exercising for a friend. She never wore a helmet and it finally caught up with her.

    I love my trainer…she has helped me and my gelding in coming back from a bad accident where I broke bones and we both lost confidence. My only issue with my trainer is that she never wears a helmet. How can I reach her? If nothing else, I’d prefer that whenever she rides my horse she has a helmet on. I’d be devasted if this wonderful woman was seriously injured while working my horse. Is it okay to make that a condition of her contract with me? Does anyone else have this issue with a trainer and how do they address it?

    1. I’d love to hear responses to this, too. I struggle with other instructors who don’t wear helmets; I think it’s our responsibility. Maybe she didn’t read the fine print in her insurance policy… Thanks Janet. And I’d ask her. She can say no… but she might like to know you care.

  10. Kathy

    I, too, grew up in a world of no helmets, no seat belts, the fun of riding in the bed of the truck to town, etc. I do love the wind in my hair. But when my daughter (now almost 24) started to ride, I donned a helmet along with her. It seemed hypocritical to insist she do it and not me. We both did it. Lead by example, a quiet and positive statement. Now it is part of the costume. To forget it is to feel naked. I have been lucky in that it has only saved me from some evil lurking low hanging branches out on the trail, but then I think – hope? I am now old enough to no longer need the sense knocked into me. Thank you.

  11. Dee

    Got bucked off of a horse a few years ago. Broken tailbone, wrist, and a concussion/brain bleed. Had a helmet on, which was badly damaged. I am glad my head wasn’t damaged any more than it was!

      1. Dee

        I was very lucky. Had the brain bleed worsened, brain surgery was the next thing to happen. As it was I was out of work for 5 weeks and have a metal plate in my wrist as a reminder.

  12. Hi Love, I was at a clinic four weeks ago with my young mare, Luna. It was a two day event and she did great the first day except for pinning her ears at a couple of horses that we could fortunately avoid most of the time. The second day was more difficult. It seemed like everyone of the other fourteen horses were bothering her. Just before the lunch break Carson asked us all to stop and he wanted to show us something. As I pulled Luna up to the horse in front of us she was not happy. Then the horse behind us got too close. As I was pulling Luna around to get out of there a third horse got in front of us. The next thing I knew Luna had reared up and was pawing the sky. The last thing I remember was the sensation of falling backwards. Apparently I never let go of the reins and pulled her over on top of me. The result was 8 ribs broken, three vertebra broken, punctured lung and yes a concussion. I was wearing a helmet but I assure you had I not been wearing one I would not be writing you today. The helmet is broken and I will not get on any horse without one now. I am doing great, mucking stalls for two weeks now and can actually sleep the night through, laying on my side. My wife and I are in conversation if and when I start riding again. Keep up the great job you are doing.

    1. Oh, Fred. First and always, I just love you and your mares. I am sorry you got banged up, it sounds painful. But I am so thrilled you are still in the Land of Mares, where you light the world up. That’s just the worst fall, I’m so relieved (along with your wife) that you are on the mend. Not the fault of your mare. As a clinician, I am so careful about this… and finally, give your good mare a scratch from me, and a kiss on your wrinkly old cheek, which is still warm, thank God. Thanks, Fred. Glad you are mucking again.

      1. Actually I love these girls so much if I never do anything more than clean their stalls and play with them in the pasture, I could be very happy. It is an expensive and strange hobby however. I am going to take an at Liberty clinic next spring. I am so sorry I missed you when you were in WA. I did not see it posted until after you had left. Next time.

      2. Yes, I’d do the same when the time comes… Back to From the Mother Farm, Snohomish, WA
        05/19/2018 – 05/21/2018… love to meet you!

  13. I board my retired OTTB at a harness racing barn. The only time I see the trainers, and drivers wearing helmets is when they are “turning” the horses ie going at speed. Even watching them jog with no helmets scares me a bit. That said. We sometimes get an occasional “saddle horse” brought in for board. Since the barn has a outdoor ring, and board is relatively cheap still. Last year we had a teen, sophmore in high school. That had her mare boarded in the rough board barn. She was supposedly taking hunt seat lessons elsewhere, but not on her own mare. Her mother, not a horse person in the least. Not a good person either, by some of the comments made to her daughter. Would drop the girl off and leave. The girl would then tack up, and go of on her own. Alone. On trails. In the ring. Jumping. One day her mother left, the girl decided to pop the mare over some jumps she had set up. You guessed it. Mare tripped, fell. Flipped over the jump and landed on top of the girl. No one was there. The barn owner had been out. The rest of us had done our work, turned out or put the horses back in their stalls, and left. The girl came to. Had been knocked unconscious. Got back to the barn where her cell phone was and called home. Mom came back. Helped put the mare away.Kid showed her the remains of the helmet. Which was broken into several pieces. And then took her HOME. HOME. Again, took her HOME! The next morning the kid didnt get up for school. Mom went in to get and found her on the floor. Rushed her to the ER, which was between their home, and the barn where she had fallen. The girl had a 3rd degree concussion. And pelvic injuries. Missed 6 months of school. Had major changes in personality. The kid had had two previous falls, on the same horse. The doctors told the mom that another fall could kill, or put the girl in a coma. The kid was back riding in less than a month. New helmet. Same horse. And still riding alone, with no instruction. I would often stay later on days she was there riding. Just in case.
    She moved her mare out to an actual riding facility after a bit. Where she would hopefully get proper instruction. And have someone to ride with. My hope was that she would actually realize that she truly was not that “into horses” And was using them more as a way to interest boys. And she was. The mare was an “accessory” for her. Nothing more than a article of clothing she could use, then put back on a hanger and ignore til she needed it again.
    Myself. There are horses at the barn I simply will not handle. For my own safety. If I have my daughter and her friends with me at feeding time. I am always teaching them as I watch them. And I handle my horse, even though he is “elderly” like he is “a horse” Especially on the days he is feeling like he is two and heading to the track. Accidents happen. We all know that. But I need to be here for my family. And my horse.

    1. Maggie Frazier

      I also remember an incident something like that one at the first place I boarded. One of the kids who took lessons from the trainer was riding alone in the arena – her mother outside in the car – and something happened – dont know what – a friend & I were in the barn grooming our horses & heard her call out. The mare had fallen somehow & landed against the back gate of the arena & trapped the girl. Fortunately, for all of us, by the time we heard her & got there, the mare had gotten back up. Both kid & horse were ok – shaken up obviously. VERY very lucky.l Yeah, accidents do happen – but far too many parents have no realization of the “accidents” that could happen around a 1,000 lb animal. Dropping off kids at the barn and not knowing if there is an adult around? Saw that far too often. When I took my oldest granddaughter to the barn starting when she was about 3 – bought a helmut after the first visit. If she was there, I was there with her. I was fortunate in having other horse owners as friends & everyone watched over her.

      1. That’s the deal. It’s all our jobs to watch over the little ones. If mom isn’t horsey, she might not know, or worse, be too afraid to ler her daughter ride.

      2. Maggie Frazier

        Sadly, over the years I spent at 2 different barns – it appeared most parents viewed the barn & the trainers as babysitters – dropped the kids off for lessons or sometimes, left the kids to spend the day at the barn. Very few of them had any concept of exactly what could happen to their child! I do have to say the parents that became involved & actually stayed at the barn with their kid & watched over them – learning how to pick out a stall & groom – they definitely were on the ball. I’m afraid the others treated this hobby like soccer or softball etc. Certainly NOT thinking about the actual living animal that their child was interacting with. Just an expensive “hobby”!
        Boy did they miss out on an absolutely unbelievable life-changing experience!

  14. Thérèse Cartier

    I am 661\2, the 1\2 counts, just like for kids …and still jump, mas to date, 2’9″. I always ride with a helmet and always have. Better thanthat, I ware it the minute I get into the barn. Accidents are what they are, unpredictable. One summer day, way back then, has I was curing a front foot, my horse got anoyed by a fly and knock me straight in the nose with his back knee on the same side….No harm done but a sore nose. i got my lesson and always put my helmett on when taking care of my horse, before, during and after riding. Just put the dam thing on please, your family will thank you for doing so.

  15. I grew up riding saddle seat – so not cool to wear a helmet – still isn’t, and I’m astonished that so many saddle seat riders (even kids!) still don’t wear them! I started wearing a helmet in college 20 years ago while attaining my Equestrian Science degree b/c I was taking classes in other seats, where it was required, too. My saddle seat professor set a great example and wore a helmet even though it wasn’t fashionable or required at the time. I was the only rider in my saddle seat classes who wore one. The first horse job I had was as an assistant instructor for a well-known saddle seat instructor in Louisville, KY – Saddlebred country. I asked her why she made ALL of her riders wear helmets when NO OTHER saddle seat lesson stable did. She told me that she COULD NOT be responsible for a head injury that could have been prevented by a helmet. I took those words to heart. Best lesson I ever learned, and thank goodness I didn’t have to learn it the hard way. 🙂

    1. I suppose I should add that there have been times since college that I have ridden without a helmet – usually at a horse show, when traditional Saddle Seat attire is worn, and come off a couple of times with terrible results. Take it from me – ambulance rides SUCK and are much more inconvenient and embarrassing than just putting on a helmet! I’ve been fighting brain cancer for 8 years, and value my brain more than I ever understood when deciding whether or not to wear a helmet in college. Please, take care of your brain and wear the dang helmet!
      With my show career behind me, I have a new career as a therapeutic riding instructor helping people with cancer and disabilities on horseback and deciding whether or not to wear a helmet is a no-brainer.

  16. Karen

    I have taken a tumble or two in the past, most recently just sitting on my horse bareback, while she was eating grass. She startled at something, sidestepped, and over I went. It happened so fast. Though I wear a helmut religiously riding when she is all tacked up, I was not that day. I did see a few stars. NOW, yes indeed, I wear a helmut EVERYTIME I am on her back. 🙂

    1. Thank you for this comment, Karen. It’s one of the situations that makes me shake my head… and lots of instructors do this, fueling the dreams of little girls. Thanks. I agree. Glad you’re okay.

  17. No helmets when I rode as a kid. No one ever thought anything about it. Now, if i was to ride, I’d wear one. Are there any that have a more “Western” look? I know it isn’t really about the look, it’s about the protection. When I attend the Danada Fest, I’m always kind of uneasy when a rider doesn’t have a helmet on. There was a vaulting group (lots of little girls jumping on and off a moving horse) with NO HELMETS!!! As this is held at a county forest preserve facility, i found it odd that helmets were not required by anyone in the arena. There were several riders who had their helmets on while tending their horses from the ground and while aboard. I’ve seen enough people with traumatic brain injuries (althought not from riding accidents or horses) that have left a massive impact on their lives. I’ve even considered wearing a riding helmet while diving the car (the brim isn’t quite long enough but I may figure something out) as I’ve see a few too many T-bone accidents where either someone knocked heads with their front seat passenger or with the window. Brain tissue is not very good at reparing itself after enough damage. Helmets make sense. If it bothers you about your hair, then forget riding or cut your hear so the helmet doesn’t mess it up. Vanity, do you really want to end up in a wheelchair or dead because your blasted HAIR got messy?

      1. Little girls running next to trotting or cantering horses and jumping on and off, standing on their backs or doing headstands – it just was something I couldn’t watch.
        Surprising that the forest preserve district would accept the risk of law suits for injuries on their property at their own sponsored event.

      1. Thanks for the link. I doubt I’ll be needing one anymore. I do know a couple other people who would be interested so I’ll pass that along.

  18. Joyce

    I have been riding horses for over 50 years and never wore a helmet. As Kathy said, I enjoy the wind in my hair and weightlessness on my head. Helmets were just a hassle. A friend bought me a helmet as a nudge to start wearing one. But at 65, I _knew_ I was an experienced enough rider to take care of myself when riding. Well, yesterday my sweet mare pitched me off while we were cantering up a hill and a rabbit darted out of the bushes in front of her. Luckily, I landed on the most padded part of my body, my derrière. But at my age, I no longer bounce, I thud.

    And then serendipitously, you posted this information today. The line that struck me the most was “riders who reported an injury had an average of 27 years of riding experience.” So, as of today’s ride, I have started wearing my helmet. It feels awkward and heavy and makes my scalp itch, but hopefully that will all pass with use. But al least I am starting to take care of myself for the sake of my horse and my other loved ones.

  19. Terry Golson

    I’m a horse professional and have developed a niche helping fearful adults and their fearful horses (it so often goes together, doesn’t it?) I often wear my helmet when working with these clients. A scared horse can swing a head, or kick out, or bolt and knock you over. So sometimes, even when not in the saddle, a helmet is a smart thing to wear.

  20. Susan Roswold

    A few years ago I was at a poker ride and I was the only adult out of about 200 others who wore a helmet! All of the kids – and me – had a helmet. There was a time when I too, did not wear a helmet. Then one day my perfect, never do anything wrong horse got attacked by another horse while I was on her. She spun and I went down. I didn’t know I had even hit my head but I had a hard time thinking for about two weeks after that. My brain couldn’t quite make connections. Ever since that day I always wear a helmet, and now I also wear an air vest. I decided I really don’t want my family to be burdened with taking care of me because of a head injury that can be prevented.

  21. In my discipline of choice, dressage, helmets have thankfully become commonplace, but we also belong to a Christian trail-riding association where it is not. After bailing off after a punishing run-away through a peach orchard, I sent my story and a photo of my cracked helmet to the newsletter of the latter. Not only did no one seem to be convinced, I actually got a snarky comment from one older guy at the next camp-out! But what did I expect? Nothing changed after one of our local chapter members died; her horse reared up shortly after she mounted at a camp-out and she came off and hit her head on the gravel road….

  22. I was seriously bucked off 25+ years ago. That night I FORGOT to put a helmet on. Halfway to the ring, I realized it and went back to put it on. Thank heaven I did. Since that night, I refuse to get on without a helmet.

    Spin forward 15 years and I got dumped again (different horse). I landed on the road, my ankle broken in 3 places. My helmet was cracked from front to back! That would have been my head. I considered myself lucky to have got away with just broken bones.

    Will it prevent all injuries? No. recently a member of a trail club I am in went out for a nice trail ride with her mare and had an accident. Sadly she didn’t make it but it was not due to a head injury. She suffered internal injuries. She was a lifelong rider and instructor. Accidents happen.

    Wearing a helmet is just plain smart. It is not if you fall off, but when.

  23. Jane Greenwood

    I shared this blog with a group I am a part of where pictures of riders sans helmets is the norm and many snarky comments have been previously made about “having” to wear one. I’ve tried before to make comments about how important it is FOR YOUR FAMILY for you to wear a helmet, but sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you say. However this post is so to the point I hope some will reconsider and start wearing a helmet or at least start making their kids wear one.
    And a comment for Joan, who has just started to protect her precious head. Perhaps you will soon be so used to wearing your helmet, you will do what I have done, gotten into your car and driven down the road into town with your helmet on! I wondered at the strange looks and it wasn’t until I bumped it on the roof when I went to get out that I realized I had untacked my horse, let her back into the pasture and headed to town without even taking it off. Trust me. You will get used to it!

    1. Maggie Frazier

      Now THATS making it a part of you! Good for you. I’m old enough to remember when we did not have seat belts in cars – what a hassle that was at the beginning, right? Now its just an automatic thing to do when you sit in the car. Funny that if something becomes an automatic move – you stop whining about what a hassle or how uncomfortable it is. Eventually!

    2. It’s possible that yours is a bad fit (being a gift) because they make them for rounder heads and oval heads. Fit is great and they’re light these days. Every time I get a new one, it’s better than the old one. Either way, change is good. Your horse thanks you, too.

  24. Chris Thompson

    Here in the UK wearing a helmet is the norm. It is also usually required by the insurers in competitions, and at yards. Even western riders are starting to wear helmets, courtesy of the insurance Companies.

    A few years ago I had to have a back operation, and the surgeon said I was lucky i could still walk. Turned out I had two old compression fractures on my spine, and I did not even realise I had done any damage. He then asked me if I was a horse rider, and when I said yes, he replied that he liked horse riders as they are good for his cash flow!! He recommended that I wear a back protector when riding, as I may not walk away from another unprotected fall. So now I wear a helmet and aa Hit-Air body protector whenever mounted.

  25. Amber

    I’ve been with horses most of my life. I lost my first husband to suicide a few years ago, and my horses became a big part of my family’s recovery journey. I decided my kids didn’t need to lose their mother prematurely either. I now wear a helmet- all the time when riding. No excuses. ☺️

    1. I have strong feelings about what it means to set a good example and you’re doing that, in more ways than a helmet. Thanks for your vantage point on this topic, Amber.

  26. Hi Anna, could we please share this on the riders4helmets website with credit to you and a link to your blog. We were so appreciative of you allowing us to share former posts. Thank you for the consideration.

  27. Lisa

    Horseback riding as an activity surged in 70’s and 80’s. More beginners and novices than ever have decided to take up the reins in cultures that are financially in a position to do so. In recent years I’ve seen so many baby boomer women who could never have a horse in their youth become riders when they were finally able to. When their kids were grown up, and it was their turn. About this time – and not before, a surge in helmet awareness began. In my area of the US, years ago almost no one ever wore a helmet unless you were doing it for fashion in a hunter class. 4H leaders began requiring that all kids handling horses should be wearing helmets. Even so far as to those who were simply leading horses. I always thought the pressure to wear helmets came from these same leaders who were people who didn’t grow up riding, or have a history of horsemanship. And because they emotionally needed to feel safer themselves, they began to project their same need on everyone else. I think this same thinking is in play today. It’s good for me so it is best for everyone.
    I’m a live and let live kind of person. Helmets are a good choice. For some people – it is a VERY good choice. Why do I say that? Because there are many people who choose to ride who are not well trained, have a poor seat, make bad choices, ride a risky horse, or shouldn’t be riding at all.
    Wear a helmet if you choose. If you want to write long essays on how it is good for everyone, by all means indulge yourself.
    But, learn to ride better. And make good decisions for yourself.

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