BNRs and helmets, part 2

Yesterday I asked the question whether BNRs should feel morally obligated to wear helmets because of the example they set for young riders.

There have been some interesting responses — I, for one, hadn’t thought about the riders’ responsibilities to their teams, but it’s a very valid point. To become an upper level rider requires a huge commitment on the part of a large team of people: sponsors, grooms, owners, family members and friends.

As for me, I feel that becoming a role model is part of the package, whether it was something they asked for, or not. When I see how the equestrian world is driven by trends (ironic for a sport that is, in many ways, steeped in tradition), it worries me when riders choose not to wear helmets. Just look at how riders choose saddles, bits and other equipment — they fly off the shelf when average riders strive to emulate their idols.

Recently, German dressage trainer Johann Hinneman was quoted as saying:

Not the helmet but the top hat is part of the official attire of a rider of the highest level of dressage. There is nothing against wearing a helmet while training but obedience is the top priority of the training of a dressage horse and then a helmet does not necessarily fit in a dressage test.

To me, he is saying that if you wear a helmet, it implies that your horse is not well enough trained. What a shame that many tragic accidents happen not because of disobedience but because of clumsiness or bad luck.

I have ridden with some wonderful trainers, who have helped me tremendously, but who to this day don’t wear a helmet. “It’s too hot,” one said to me. Another complained that she rode five or six horses a day and if she wore her helmet, her hair looked bad. It’s a shame when your hairstyle is more important to you than your brain! But there have been days when it was hot and sticky and I didn’t want to wear a helmet. I know they wouldn’t have blinked had I made that choice (I wear my helmet every time I ride and have done so since this incident when I was 16).

However, another incident has stuck in my brain for the past 17 years. I was at a USEF dressage camp and one of the trainers there refused to let one of the participants ride in her session unless she wore a helmet. The young woman hadn’t even brought a helmet to the camp and was most disgruntled about being asked to wear one. Eventually, she capitulated and borrowed one from a boarder. That incident drove home the importance of wearing a helmet — even when riding on the flat. The fact that it was a BNR who made that pronouncement made it all the more meaningful.


3 thoughts on “BNRs and helmets, part 2

  1. Would you drive your car without a seatbelt? OK you don’t plan to have an accident but that’s not the issue. Even driving at the slowest speeds someone can drive into you and injure you. We never plan to have an accident – so plan to be protected. Especially on a horse.

    1. You are welcome to re-post with credit. If I can help persuade just one person to wear a helmet, I will consider it to be a huge success.

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