Hey you–yeah you, the idiot who couldn’t spare three seconds to strap on a helmet before you got on your horse. Megan Kaiser has something she wants you to hear.
Just wear the blasted helmet.
I boarded for a very long time at your typical hunter lesson/local show barn. One day I was trotting around the ring and I noticed a mom had gotten her kid on her lesson pony de jour. She was fixing her stirrups but the helmet was sitting on the mounting block on not on her child’s head.
I went around once: still not on her head. Twice: still on the mounting block not doing anyone any good. Third time’s a charm: “Best to put your helmet on before the trainer sees you” I said as I went by. I figured rather than be bossy I’d go with the blame it on the trainer route. Fourth time: nope. Fifth time: nothing–how long does it take, lady, to adjust stirrups, finish up and put your kid’s helmet on. Sixth time: Come on people! Seventh time: and I can’t hold it any longer, “It really is important to wear the helmet when on–rules of all barns.”
At this point the mother turns to me and says “Oh, it’s OK. I’m her mother.”
Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t realize that you were her mother. Yes, this means, because you are there that the hand of the all mighty will come down and create a protective force field around your child if something unforeseen happens. Sorry about that–please ignore the complete stranger who seems to care more about your child’s brain than you do.
Yes, the little girl was on a saint of a lesson horse–one that I had seen save an off balanced rider so many times and who tends to not to want to move unless made to–but you don’t know: bees sting, dogs run from the bushes, lawn mowers fire, batches of chinchillas drop out of the sky.
And this mother should have known better–she knew how to adjust stirrups (rather slowly, but whatever) therefore it is a good assumption she had ridden before and should know the most basic of safety rules. But there is a reason for the phase “knowing enough to be dangerous”–I will officially now add a second half, “…but not knowing enough to be smart.” The most sky diving accidents happen with the intermediates: Beginners follow the rules like crazy, and the veterans have seen enough to know they better follow the rules like crazy.
Fine; if you don’t want to wear it and you are a grown-up (or at least supposed to be), that’s your decision–but don’t make that decision for someone else, especially a child, especially especially for your child. And let’s face it, not only is it the barn’s policy for everyone to wear one while mounted, if you are under 18 it is also a state law.
Helmets aren’t that uncomfortable or hot–and if yours is then it’s time to get a new one. They have all sorts of styles, colors, venting systems. And no you don’t look silly wearing it; you look like every other person who participates in a rather dangerous sport but is smart enough to try and protect their noggin. So, just take the half a second and put the thing on.
I let the trainer know later that day the mother might say something to her about the nosy lady that yelled at her. The trainer was very happy I did say something and said I should feel free to call out anyone at any time for not wearing one and for that matter, anyone doing anything blatantly stupid.
And this is the part where I confess a couple things: For shows back in the day I wore the helmets with the bright orange tags on the inside that indicated they were only for fashion and not safety. And that for the cattle drive I wrote about last week I did not wear a helmet. I was a total idiot. I wouldn’t even think of riding without one at home so why didn’t I wear one then? I will chalk it up to being about 10 years ago, and I was young and stupid. Now, I’m the one with helmet, phone and vest on even when it’s hottest day of the year and I’m just going for a walk around the property. I completely understand that I am being preachy but it’s such an easy thing to do–embrace your helmet.
Yesterday I was trading emails with the friend I went on the cattle drive with and we decided that we might go again in a couple years but we both will be wearing helmets and crash vests. Heck, I’ll invest in a Point Two Vest (I’ve been meaning to anyway)–it should be good for a laugh with the cowboys. But I’m OK with that. Laugh all you want–I’ll laugh with you and I’ll be around to ride another day.