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Young people look up to their trainers and the top riders in their sport–so when those people choose not to wear helmets, it negatively impacts their view of helmets and their importance. Is your trainer setting a good example?
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There are 8 comments for this post
I feel like I am one of the few western teachers/trainers who does wear a helmet when I ride and train. Even if I am just jumping on a horse for a minute or two I usually throw a helmet on even if it means running back to my office and scrounging around and delaying practice.
On the other hand, I also put myself in a hypocritical situation by showing wearing a cowboy hat. If I’m going to insist on helmets when training, why should showing be any different? And yet I don’t want to stop wearing a hat when I show. It’s part of the western tradition, though the riding isn’t any less dangerous just because it’s in a show pen. Today I was also fooling around on a show ground sitting on a friend’s horse bareheaded and wandering around a parking lot–poor form on my part.
Any other western riders want to chime in????
Like most eventers, I’m not big on the concept of bubble wrapping oneself to get to the finish line boringly haven taken no risks for ninety years. But the choice of risk-reward is clear to me: ride, jump, fly, scuba, experience life to the fullest (reward). But always prepare with the highest level of education, and always avail yourself of safety features, there is no reward in not doing so. Putting on a helmet does not reduce my enjoyment one bit, nor do I place a higher value on looking good than my safety. Even on the occasional western ride, I strap one on, and wish all trainers would do so because it won’t even occur to beginners otherwise. Western showing… That’s a tough one to swim upstream against but someone has to start the trend! Even bull riders, the definition of machismo, are doing it now.
Interesting point with the bull riders…I feel like bull riding is kind of in a class of its own in terms of ridiculous occupational hazards! And yet the bronc riders haven’t seemed to have adopted the idea.
I will say that I rock my JR8 at team sortings and team pennings; it’s just the more formal shows that I leave it behind. I did also attend a western schooling show in which helmets were required–a step in the right direction!
I think it’s extreme to say some people have a negative perception of helmets if their trainers don’t wear one. I think it’s personal preference. Some people feel safer with a helmet on.
Honestly, I don’t think anyone outside of competition should be perceived as “unsafe” if they choose not to wear a helmet while flatting on a safe mount. Yes, “When Good Horses Go Bad,” comes to mind, and the thought of a dead broke older school horse bucking off a surprised rider is a possibility. But I feel offended when people jump on the “YOU’RE A BAD PERSON” wagon if I choose to enjoy a nice sunny day on my perfectly broke and trustworthy mount without a helmet on. I’m an adul, I understand the state laws that “Equestrian Activitiy is ride at your own risk.” So fine…. let me ride at my own risk. But i’m also an event rider, so if I’m obsessed with risk, I wouldn’t be competing in my sport.
So maybe it’s just me that gets irritated by this obsessive new safety trend, but living in the fast lane has it’s perks too!
I see what you’re saying…I guess I compare using a helmet to using a seatbelt in the car–if safety devices exist it seems prudent to use them…most of the time.
I try not to shove helmet use down my students’ throats; my university students are all required to use them and some of them protest LOUDLY…I think there’s some insecurity about not using it; I can’t imagine why else they can’t just put up with a simple rule. I don’t follow them home and harass them to wear helmets on their own horses, after all…
To each his own! Just not when you’re riding under my university’s insurance policy.
When I worded this discussion prompt, I can see that I wasn’t being objective–the wording is loaded toward “not wearing a helmet is bad.” I don’t judge people who choose not to wear a helmet–I understand that it’s a personal decision. I’ve definitely had periods of my life when I didn’t wear one while, say, riding my steady-eddy old event horse dressage. But my thinking has changed in the past few years, especially since Courtney Dye-King’s accident. I guess I just don’t understand why anyone WOULDN’T take five seconds to strap a helmet on. The sensation of the breeze blowing through my hair doesn’t seem worth the risk.
I always wear a helmet and at my barn it is pretty much mandatory. My instructors always wear them too, even if they are just popping on my horse to demonstrate something for a moment. I think wearing a helmet is the right decision. Certainly the decision is up to the rider, but I don’t see anything wrong with saying that the choice is a bad one. There is nothing saying that a bad fall can’t happen even from a standstill and I think we can all attest to the fact that even predictable, bombproof and safe mounts can surprise us in various ways. Back in my senior year of high school I suffered a concussion from a very minor fall and was out of school for 2 weeks and continued to have symptoms for months afterwards. That was with a helmet, and when my head wasn’t even the first thing to hit the ground! I shudder to think what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that while the people who choose to wear helmets aren’t bad people because of their decision, but the decision itself is a bad one.
That’s just my opinion. I don’t want to put my head at risk, the rest of my body is in enough danger when falling from a moving object 5+ feet of the ground, and broken limbs seem to heal a lot better than most head injuries!
Regarding riding your trusty oldster… I watched ARIA’s Every Ride Every Time video and one example they used was a highly experienced rider lightly flatting her semi retired h/j schoolmaster, her longtime trusted partner. While cantering, he tripped himself, fell, and she died when her head hit the arena fence. Bucking not required.
I agree, it’s everyone’s own choice, and I never chastise folks in person, nor will I do it here. My personal choice is “why not?” when the reward is potentially so great for little effort.
You know, this is similar to the value of airline pilots. It’s not hard at all to fly an airplane largely managed and flown by computers. The joke is that many pilots go through a whole career never earning their big paychecks. Then some Canada geese fly into the engines, the pilot’s lifetime of simulator training on emergencies kicks in, and he earns in one day many lifetimes of big paychecks. Helmets are the same. You don’t want them to earn their keep, but when they do, aren’t you grateful?
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