I wear a helmet every time I ride. Without exception. But I know plenty of people who don’t.
I’ve heard a lot of reasons why.
“I don’t need to wear a helmet unless I’m jumping.” Nope, I had a horse fall down once when we were walking down a hill, I was glad to be wearing a helmet then because I hit my head.
“You can still get hurt while you’re wearing a helmet.” Duh. You can still get hurt in a car crash while you’re wearing your seat belt. I wear one of those, too. But wearing a helmet decreases your chance of getting hurt, so why not stack the odds in your favor? Okay, it’s true that if you hit your head on the ground, you still may get a concussion through the helmet, but I’ve seen plenty of helmets that have split open. Better the helmet than your head.
“The new helmets are ugly.” Really? I don’t think the old style helmets were particularly attractive and they were a lot less safe. If you think about it, much of the equestrian gear that we agonize over is indistinguishable (and faintly ridiculous) to people not involved with horses. Personally, I always go for the safest option over the fashionable one when it comes to preventing traumatic brain injuries.
“Helmets aren’t comfortable.” That used to be true. It wasn’t unusual to finish your lesson and find that your helmet had dug a line across your forehead or given you a terrible headache. Now helmets are available in a wider range of shapes and styles and there are even helmets with vents so that they are much cooler on hot days. Of course, if you’re like me, the one that fits you the best is the most expensive one, but at least it’s comfortable.
“It makes my hair look bad.” That’s why hats were invented: to cover helmet hair. But seriously, if your hair style is more important than your brain, ’nuff said.
I am delighted that more professional riders are wearing helmets. They are role models who influence the behavior of young riders. I am glad that organizations like helmets4horses are working to make helmets more acceptable in all disciplines. And I love that bloggers like Anna Blake keep the subject top of mind.
The increased danger of riding horses without a helmet is as undeniable as gravity.