Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Helmet Question

I've been showing primarily dressage and eventing for the last couple of years. As a result, there hasn't been much of s helmet debate in my circles. We ride, therefore, we helmet. The end.
Yes, that *is* blue animal print on my helmet cover...

However, I was introduced to the world of Arabian Sport Horse this year. It seemed a beautiful combination of everything I have always loved most in the realm of horses. 

Now, I have gotten so used to seeing riders in helmets (even Western riders!) that it now jars me to see any rider with a bare head.  My mind can overlook the rider in a cowboy hat, but I feel a tiny bit queasy to see a ring full of riders and no helmets.
There is no real reason that this should bother me. At the places I see this, there is no 'helmet required' rule. Just because I have made the choice to always use my helmet (even in Western classes, even if it is a big-deal show), doesn't mean that everyone else must make the same choice.
Some choices are better than others, right?

On a side note, I saw photos of one of the most talented youth riders I know. She was wearing her fanciest western show gear, and a helmet. I don't know how long I looked at the photos before I realized that she was wearing a helmet in place of her cowboy hat. She still looked perfectly put-together and professional. I loved it!
So, the helmet debate still rages in the Arabian Horse Association. Tempers flare on both sides. There is finger-pointing and name calling. This year, a motion to make helmets required for Sport Horse classes was defeated. My initial thought was, "That is a shame."
Understand, I followed the rise of Courtney King-Dye. I told myself for years, 'We are close in age. If she can do it, why can't I?' Her injury also struck close to home. I've had my own riding accidents, and I was lucky I wasn't more severely injured. Concussions are bad enough. Scary, in and of themselves. Traumatic Brain Injury is a very real danger.
I don't see anything wrong with an organization requiring helmet use at shows. However, many people will disagree. I asked someone why they voted against the helmet rule. I was told it was because they didn't feel like it was right to force their opinion on to everyone else.
You know what? I respect that point of view.
Yup, that one is, in fact, sparkly purple!

I advocate helmet use. I love seeing our top riders sporting protective headgear with their tails. I continue to set the example.
And I find myself back on the fence about the requirement of riding helmets.


  1. I am openly an advocate for requiring helmets. I get that people want to make their own decisions... but associations have a responsibility to advocate for the well-being of their members (in this case both human and equine). I point to two arguments:

    1. Nobody disagrees with national breed associations implementing animal welfare standards because we all want the horses we love to be cared for properly and not to suffer. How is requiring a helmet different than this?

    2. How would it go over if the NFL decided protective gear was optional? You can't tell me that the force of falling to the ground off a moving horse is less than that of a linebacker hitting a running back.

    Anyways, not trying to start a war, but I do believe helmets should be required.

    1. I know exactly where you are coming from. I agree with your arguements. There were some other enforcement issues that came with requiring helmets for AHA SH classes. If I had a good solution for each problem, I could staunchly sit on the "require helmets" side, again. This is kind of an uncomfortable place for me to find myself, which is why I felt so compelled to blog about it.
      At this point, I figure 'we' as competitors should set the example so that the helmet rule becomes a moot point. :)
      And I love the stimulating feedback! I can put out quite a few arguements in favor of such a rule myself. I truly never expected to find myself back on the fence.

  2. I think you should always wear a helmet, but I would never pick on someone for making a different decision.

    1. I gently encourage others to wear helmets, if they have them. Some people are adamantly against them. The requirement at my barn is under 18, while jumping, or while practicing speed events.

  3. I think society often has to pick up the pieces when it comes to traumatic injuries like ones that riding can cause. I'm very pro helmet, but I like the stance that TX has on motorcycle helmets: If you don't wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle, you have to have proof of health insurance on you ;)

    1. That is a very interesting policy TX has! I agree that society takes part of the fall out of traumatic injuries.
      There is always the aguement: "If you don't like the rules, then don't compete at the show". I understand the negative backlash of that arguement as well. Even showing western pleasure, you will see me sporting my helmet, no matter what the level! Who knows who might be looking up to me, and I want to set the best example that I can!

  4. I am an avid helmet wearer and advocate.

    1. I have more than one helmet! It seems like I want to collect them the same way I collect tack and bits! *sigh*
      There are more and more helmet options all the time! There seems to be something for everyone! It amazes me!
      And as affordable as they are getting, price is no longer an arguement. I used to be young and invincible, but I'm still trainable! :)

  5. I think that helmet wearing is a personal choice. At the end of the day its your head. Its up to you wether you want to keep it safe or not. I wear a helmet 99% of the time and would definitely reccomend everyone wear one. There are rides though when I forget or just don't want to wear a helmet.



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