Thoughts on the New Helmet Rule

At the 2011 USEF convention (Jan 19-23), the rule requiring protective headgear for ALL riders competing at the national levels (Training through Fourth).  Ever since Courtney King-Dye’s accident, this has been a popular topic of debate.  The pro-helmet people say that it will save lives and disability. The anti-helmet people say it should be their choice to protect their head or not.  I am definitely in the pro-helmet category now, but until I rode dressage, I usually rode without one.  I rode a lot of Western, it wasn’t what we did in the QH world, and I just never thought about it. 

The major problem with the anti-helmet people’s argument is that if they were to become injured (or killed) it would be their own fault and they would have to live (or not) with the consequences.  But as Courtney’s accident demonstrates, your mishap affects many more people than just yourself.  Even if you don’t have a legion of adoring fans, you have family and friends, usually a job (or clients if you train horses), and most likely other pets, all of which rely on you.  I feel it is being a little selfish to not wear a helmet because you get hot or you don’t like the way your hair looks after taking it off. There are solutions to just about every excuse people have come up with not to wear a helmet. 

(I have heard rare stories where someone died because of their helmet but I’ve also heard stories where people have died due to their seatbelt while driving.  However, no one these days disputes the statistics showing seatbelts save lives.)

The USEF/USDF dictates other appointments of our show outfit.  Our clothing must be of conservative colors.  We can’t show in a Western saddle.  Our horse must be ridden with a bit, which has to be a snaffle at the lower levels.  Why shouldn’t they say we must wear protective headgear?  I am sure that after a few years of watching the pros wear helmets that no one will think there is any other way to ride.  I hope that they will not only ride in a helmet at shows, where it is mandated, but also at home, not because its mandated, but because they’re used to it from the shows.  

When I first started wearing a helmet it felt weird.  Now I feel naked without one.  I applaud the USEF in sticking to their guns despite a substantial amount of opposition.

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4 Responses to Thoughts on the New Helmet Rule

  1. Barbara says:

    I grew up not wearing a helmet. In fact I never in my life wore a helmet until I took my first jumping lesson at age 46. Then I wore a hunt cap while jumping. (I still love that hunt cap, stylish and it fit perfectly *sigh*) Then, after picking it up out of the dirt after assorted falls, I started wearing a helmet. I have to admit it was more about saving the hunt cap from damage than about protecting my head. When I started riding cross country I got serious about safety and the harsh consequences of small mistakes. One day I just decided to put the damn thing on for every ride. Now it is just habit, saddle, helmet, bridle. Done, mount up. I think the rules are a good thing, as much for PR as for safety.

  2. Barbara says:

    Have I mentioned how much I love your blog header photo? LOVE it.

    • tryingtoride says:

      Thank you so much! It was difficult to find a photo that fit in the template WordPress provided. Trying to picture PJ looking like that now is hard since he’s all fuzzy, but I know that a shiny horse is somewhere under all of that fluffy hair.

  3. Tracey says:

    Three years ago this month I spent time in Lehigh Valley Trauma Neuro ICU and had surgery to releive the pressure from bleeding and swelling in my brain. All from a non-horse related head injury, (I should stick to riding). I can tell you first hand that a severe head injury affects everything and everyone. The only disagreement I had with my surgeon was how soon I would be able to ride again- he actually thought I could go six months without riding- silly man.
    Anyway, even pushing it, it was about 4 mos before I even walked on a horse again, since at first walking by myself wasnt possible.
    I always wear my helmet- did before, and do even more diligently today. I’m happy that we are able to wear them at all levels, and am a big fan or requiring them. I’m also happy that the helmet industry is advancing and making ones that are both safer and more comfortable.

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