Need another reason to wear a helmet?

Riders4Helmets

This image and the story below is from Elaine Ward, who posted it to Riders4 Helmets.

Back in 2010 when Courtney King-Dye was injured, many of us in Ontario Canada felt compelled to wear a helmet even though we were showing FEI Level. It was to show our support for Courtney, and it also really hit home to all of us as professionals that it could have happened to us just as easily.


This photo is of my mare, who to this day had NEVER reared. I was in the middle of a canter pirouette in the Prix St. George and she reared straight up. Had I not been wearing a helmet, I would probably not be here today. Although she hit me in the side of the head, my helmet saved me, and I kept my wits about me enough to ride out the rear. My mare is literally standing on one toe in this picture, and could have easily flipped over backward. It took me four months to even look at this photo.


The culprit? A saddle fitter who had broken the point off my saddle just before the show. I had no idea that this had happened until I got down to the root of the problem. She has never reared on me since.
I continue to wear a helmet on ANY horse I ride, and advocate to my students that they too should be wearing a helmet when they tack up.


Please share this message and photo as you see fit to help the cause.

It’s stories like these that reinforce my feeling wearing a helmet every day, for every ride is cone of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe. That goes for when you’re riding your safest horse, your old horse, your green horse. It means wearing one when you are riding on the flat, when you’re hacking in the woods, not just when you’re jumping.

Even the safest, sanest horse can act in a way unexpected. Or, as I learned, slip and fall. When Zelda slipped on the ice and fell, we were trotting. Slowly. Nothing exciting or dangerous.

Since my accident I’ve thought there are three things all people riding should do to improve their safety:

  1. wear a helmet,
  2. use safety stirrups,
  3. don’t wear jewelry, especially rings. And,
  4. maybe wear a safety vest. I’m on the fence about this one.

Stay safe, have fun, and kick on!

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3 thoughts on “Need another reason to wear a helmet?

  1. Holy cats, that’s scary just LOOKING at it…and she stayed aboard! I started wearing helmets in the 90’s when I was still riding motorcycles with a now ex husband. At that time it was legal to ride motorcycles without a helmet (in my state), but I was still in the Army, and they required it. Despite the sneers and harassment from ‘bikers’ who despised wearing them, I always thought a helmet was a really good idea. So when I stopped riding motorcycles and returned to riding horses, it just stuck with me.

    I never get aboard a horse without wearing a helmet, and after last year’s fall, a protective vest. Our barnlord rides without either. Her rules are everyone else wears a helmet. It’s her barn, her stable, so I keep my mouth shut.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my brain is more important to me than my pride. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m a chicken for wearing one, or that they get ‘hot’, or they make one’s scalp itch or most specious of all…it messes up one’s hair…I think everyone who gets aboard a horse should think what could happen to their brain.

    A very good friend of mine had her mare do the very same thing as what you show above. She’d just purchased a new Schleese saddle that had a badly designed tree. One of the points was a tad too long, sharp as a knife and stabbed through the panel into the mare’s shoulder when my friend was in the saddle. I won’t go into the runaround Schleese gave her on what was clearly their fault, but she has never used one again, and the mare has never done this again.
    her shoulder was messed up for months…but her head, because she was wearing a helmet, was unharmed.

    1. You never know what will cause your horse to react — tree point, bee sting, etc. Of course, don’t get me started on Schleese saddles. Probably the best marketing program for saddles ever, and beautiful leather, but the attitude!

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