Mind your melon and buckle up! On riders4helmets’ International Helmet Awareness Day, the Horse Nation staff reflects on why they choose to wear a helmet.
Each year riders4helmets presents International Helmet Awareness Day, intended to promote the use of helmets by all equestrians in all disciplines and to partner with retailers to offer the riding public an opportunity to attend helmet fitting demonstrations, educational seminars and discounts and sales on new helmets from a variety of manufacturers.
We at Horse Nation are proud to support riders4helmets on International Helmet Awareness Day: we encourage all riders, regardless of disciplines, to wear their helmets any time they’re mounted — wearing a correctly-fitting helmet is one of the simplest, easiest ways to help protect your irreplaceable noggin.
There are many reasons that riders give to not wear a helmet, but we thought on IHAD we’d share the reasons we choose to wear ours.
My granddad used to say, “Hit your head, you’re safe,” which doesn’t make a bit of sense and to this day we don’t understand it. If you hit your head with a helmet on, though, you’re certainly safer than you would have been otherwise. I’ve bonked my head more than once and I never, ever ride without a skull cap. Truth be told, I can’t comprehend any excuse why you wouldn’t wear a helmet while riding. Why take the chance?
Here I am wearing my Charles Owen not long after a fall. I had stopped to literally smell the flowers without realizing my pony was about to touch her nose to a hot wire fence. As she darted out from under me and I hovered in the air Wiley Coyote style, I stared aghast at her spotted backside as she made her way back to the barn without me. Then I did a remarkable impression of a folded up lawn chair, did a bad backflip and upon hitting the ground, pivoted on my face like a drunken breakdancer. I came away with nothing more than a sore back and some stinging road rash. It’s funny looking back on it, but the story could have ended much differently. #mindyourmelon
Anyone who has ever ridden with me knows that I won’t be caught dead on a horse without a helmet, for several cheeky reasons. 1) My hair is always a hot mess, and this way no one has to know. 2) My helmet is sparkly, and no ball cap can replicate the joyful sparkliness of my brain bucket 3) It keeps the sun off my face because face cancer is the worst. 4) Because if something ever happened to me while I was riding without a helmet, someone else would have to explain to my little daughter why she has no memories of her mother — from a completely avoidable tragedy. A helmet saved my mother’s life three years ago, and I never take one day or one ride together for granted.
Amanda Uechi Ronan
I wear a helmet because I want my brains to remain inside my skull. Boom.
I had a lot of trouble with my daughter Sydney following the rules and wearing her helmet when she hopped on bareback. Finally I looked her straight in the eye and said, “If you want your brains to remain in your skull, I suggest you wear a helmet, otherwise if you get thrown or kicked they’ll go flying all over and you’ll be dead.” Probably not the greatest parenting, but it got the point across.
I used to wear my helmet when schooling only, and would show my reined cowhorses and western horses in a hat — because it was traditional, because I did admittedly feel like I looked cooler, and frankly because it wasn’t worth the flak I would catch from other riders. Somewhere along the way, I stopped worrying about what I looked like and what other people thought about it: I make my living with my brain, and I’m not interested in casually throwing that away in an instant due to a horse catching me unaware, a horse tripping or one of the myriad other unpredictable things that can happen.
I’ve known several people in my horse life who would undoubtedly no longer be with us if it weren’t for helmets — that’s reason enough for me to take a little precaution.
Here at Horse Nation, we need every brain cell we can get. And we salute International Helmet Awareness Day’s efforts to keep our neurons as safe as possible by reminding us each year to keep a lid on it.
As someone who has been pile driven into planet Earth on many an occasion, I would never dream of leaving the barn without my helmet. I only wish that the dramatic improvements in helmet technology that we’ve seen in the past 10-15 years were around when I needed them the most; “I’ll ride anything once” was my motto growing up and helmets back then weren’t what they are today. I landed myself in the hospital with concussions on a handful of occasions, and some residue from those accidents lingers with me still today — my left frontal lobe is a bit “special,” as my neurologist would say.
Of course that hasn’t kept me from doing more stupid stuff over the years, like jumping a four-foot vertical out of two feet of mud on a fox hunting trip in England earlier this year. The horse landed on me, but my head was no worse for the wear thanks to my helmet (although it did slip down and scrape off the front of my nose — don’t underestimate the importance of a snug fit!)
Wear a helmet, y’all: every time, every ride. Your life depends on it.
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