Helmets- Personal Choice or Community Standards?

Every now and then something happens to stir up the helmet debate. Images like the one above always look more glamorous and romantic sans helmet.  This year, it’s the changes that are being brought about in terms of what standards are permitted at competition, and what standards no longer qualify.

Here’s a link to the EA statement on this. http://www.equestrian.org.au/news/ea-statement-helmet-standard Confused? Yup.

So we know that for most competitive events in the equestrian world we must wear a helmet. How the stewards are to know if the one we are wearing is current, up to date, not more than 5 years old etc I have no idea, as in Australia we do not have a helmet inspection and tagging system, like they do for eventers in the UK, and I believe in NZ and the US as well.

But that’s competition days, and probably less than 5% of the time we spend riding our horses are at competitions.

What happens the rest of the time?

How many choose not to wear a helmet at home?

Here are some of the reasons I found online what people give when justifying their decision:

It’s my head and I’m willing to take that risk.

They ruin my appearance- during riding or after.

My horse is completely bombproof and I’m an experienced rider.

My helmet gives me a headache.

Helmets look ugly, and they’re really expensive.

Helmets don’t keep you safe, but instead give you a false sense of security.

Yes, choosing to wear a helmet when you ride is your decision. Absolutely. I trust that you have the presence of mind to be able to make a rational decision on whether or no these reasons are a good enough excuse to not wear a helmet when you rider at home or out in public.

Have you heard the saying “no man is an island?”

Here’s my take on the helmet debate.

We are all social creatures- some more so than others- but we all have people around us that we love. We all have people around us that love us back.

We have people that depend on us. We have animals that depend on us.

Horse riding is a dangerous activity. It’s that simple. When we ride, we are sitting on 500 odd kilos of live, intelligent animal. A prey animal at that, who is hard-wired to move very fast in order to escape danger- real or imagined.

EVERY time we jump on our horse we take a risk. It might be small, but it is a risk. In my mind, it’s riskier than riding a motorbike, because motorbikes don’t make decisions on their own!

If we love the people around us, if they love us, if we have people depending on us, then it is our responsibility to reduce the risk of any hobby we undertake as best we can.

The first time I went skiing, no one wore helmets. At the time, I didn’t really think anything of it- I was mostly doing snow plow down gentle slopes and laughing like a maniac. 10 years later I went skiing again and EVERYONE was wearing a helmet. The two people I saw without a helmet I actually stared at them and wondered why they thought their brains were worth any less than mine.

Here’s the thing.

We only get one head. We only get one brain. We only get one chance at this thing called life, and yes, we want to live it and do everything we want to do, and experience everything we want to experience.

If wearing a helmet helps me reduce the risk of serious injury just one percent, I’m going to take that.

I trust my pony. I’ve only come off once in the last 2.5 years (and that was at a jumping competition). I wear my helmet every single time I ride- even bareback back to the paddock.

I wear my helmet not just for me, but I wear it for my husband. I wear it for my family. I wear it for the people that depend on me to stay safe and healthy.

Next time you think about going without, I hope that you decide to pick up that helmet. If not for yourself, but for the people around you who love you just the way you are, and who would be devastated if they should loose you to an injury that could have been prevented in a second.

 

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