I don’t usually post on Saturdays, but today is International Helmet Awareness Day so I wanted to talk about helmets. I’m also interested in recommendations for a new helmet (see end of post).
I will admit that I used to ride without a helmet. I’ve posted pictures of this and I don’t pretend it didn’t happen. But that was stupid. I don’t do that anymore. (I do occasionally take my helmet off while standing still on a horse for a picture. This is very rare, it’s a calculated risk, and it literally only happens while standing still for a picture and then the helmet goes back on or I get off.)
I firmly believe everyone should wear a helmet on every ride. Including trail riding. Including western. Including just hacking around bareback. Including dressage. Including every stereotypical excuse.
I’m probably going to piss off people by saying this but I don’t think the whole “I’m an adult and it’s my choice” is valid. It may be your choice not to wear a helmet, but your choice effects others:
Your spouse/family/friends will have to care for you for the rest of your life if you suffer a debilitating Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Or they may grieve for the rest of their lives if you die. Tell them it’s “your choice.”
Unless you’re independently wealthy, if you fall off and injure your brain and have to spend the rest of your life disabled or living in a facility, it’s actually my and other non disabled americans’ tax dollars that are going to pay for that.
Did you know that a horse that killed or permanently disabled someone is a massive liability to sell? Seriously. Your spouse/family/friend may not be able to sell your horse without either lying about what happened and/or risking a lawsuit if your horse injures the next person who owns it. Even if your horse just tripped and didn’t do anything malicious. It’s the sort of thing even a non professional must disclose in selling a horse. Again, unless you’re wealthy and left a will and trust fund for your horse’s care, your horse may end up at an auction house or being euthanized.
And your horse? He didn’t get a “choice” in this.
Yes, you could still get permanently injured even while wearing a helmet. But it’s much less likely. And if that happens, at least you tried.
My Own Story
Two years ago I had a bad fall. Luckily, I was already committed to wearing a helmet on every ride. Even trail rides. Even Western. When I fell off that day, I was riding western, I was going for a trail ride, and I was riding a generally unflappable horse (seriously – this horse is now working in the city as a police horse – that’s how unflappable he was). I had every stereotypical excuse not to wear a helmet.
What I didn’t know that day was that the saddle wasn’t fitting him well (I don’t really know western saddles well enough and thought it fit, but it didn’t. I now get western saddle fit checked by a western trainer). He took off bucking while I was getting on. I fell off and landed on the gravel driveway. I don’t remember falling because even with a helmet on, I got a concussion. I fractured almost every bone in my back (luckily bone breaks heal pretty quickly and there wasn’t any actual spinal cord damage).
I obviously can’t say with 100% certainty since it didn’t happen, but I am pretty sure that I would either not be alive or would have had a TBI if I had not had a helmet on.
As much as I don’t like the whole “it’s my choice” argument, I don’t go around proselytizing. I don’t take up with anyone who chooses not to wear a helmet. If you don’t wear a helmet, I don’t hate you. I know many people – including friends – who chose not to ride with helmets. I don’t argue with people about it. Because, in the end, it is your choice. I just don’t think “it’s my choice” is a good argument.
Finally, I need a skull cap style helmet for cross country. Any recommendations?
Amen! I'm with you on this one. In fact I've given many of your arguments myself.
For skull caps you have to remember just like traditional helmets each style has a different shape (i.e. more round or oval) figure out what shape your head is then try the corresponding skull cap. Charles Owen is a really good brand to look at when determining head shape. Email me if you need help I'm a pro!
Great post! I strap one on every ride. I also don't like the excuse,"But it doesn't look as good as a top/cowboy hat." Yeah, that won't matter if you get a concussion. It's just like wearing a seat belt. Even experienced drivers can get into accidents from reasons out of their control.
I do admit that cowboy hats are pretty cool looking. I've always wanted one, but since I only ride with a helmet I don't know where I'd wear it.