An Ode to the Helmet That Just Didn’t Fit Me

Rest in peace to the memories we never made.

This is not that helmet. This is the helmet that was always there for me, the helmet I never should have left. Photo by Amelia Maslen.

I could have done one of those unboxing videos: I think I audibly whispered “oooh” as I drew you from the box and slipped you out of the bag, helmet that didn’t fit me.

You were pretty sexy, as far as helmets went: a smooth matte finish, vents placed strategically to look both polished and fierce, a discreet logo that tied the whole design together, nicely-designed harness and my favorite part, the color — a delectable dark-chocolate brown.

I had a perfectly good helmet in the tack room at the barn: still within the five-year window from manufacture date and (knock wood) a clean history insofar as major falls. It fit my head like a comfortable glove; I often walked around for a large chunk of the day with the helmet still on my head, completely forgetting it was there. It was a good helmet. I just wanted something new, something shiny (or technically, in this case, something matte).

The new helmet had been on sale. I had a moment of weakness. I had visions of the beautiful show outfit I’d put together — a new navy show shirt, a brown and blue paisley scarf, rust-brown chinks, topped with this lovely new brown helmet along with the gorgeous new woven brown and turquoise saddle blanket I had purchased for my horse, who was filling out and shone like a copper penny. New horse, new look. We might not be all that broke yet, but heck if we wouldn’t look like a million bucks for the fall shows.

Fighting the urge to immediately remove the tags, I slid the helmet onto my head and waited for the clouds to open and the angels to sing, that same sensation of weightlessness, that familiar gentle hug of my head that whispered “everything’s okay, I’ve got your noggin covered.”

It wasn’t there.

No, there was no magic moment of helmet-induced harmony. I stared at the helmet in the bathroom mirror. It looked good… but it felt off, slightly loose, as though I were wearing some sort of funny hat that simply perched on top of my head like an inverted bowl.

I sighed. I took off the helmet.

Still hopeful, I subsequently placed an order for a smaller liner. Perhaps that’ll do the trick, I told myself glibly. It just wasn’t the right fit the first time around. That mental image of my fancy new dream show outfit was still dancing in my head.

The new liner arrived; the helmet still did not fit. As I sat on the couch in the middle of the day, wearing a helmet, willing it to somehow wrap nicely around my head and be everything I had dreamed it would be, the realization slowly crept in — this helmet was not for me.

For as far as cowboy hats within the right size can be easily shaped by skilled hands to fit any head right off the rack, it’s a sad truth that few helmets are one-style-fits-all. You can order your size; you can order your head shape — but it still just might not work.

That’s no reason to give up trying to find the right match, however. I firmly believe that there is a brand style that will fit everyone, and nothing beats heading to the well-stocked tack shop to try on different styles until you too find that harmonious, clouds-parting, angels-singing helmet fit that makes you too feel as though you’re wearing nothing at all on your head.

Until I find that magical helmet in brown to make my fancy show outfit a reality, though, it’s back to my old reliable for now. I missed you, old friend. I’ll never stray again.

Go riding!

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