Friday, June 17, 2011

Why I Wear a Helmet

When I ride, I always wear a helmet - it's automatic.  I'll often wear a helmet when doing groundwork with a horse, or even when doing leading work if the horse has issues, and certainly every time I load a horse in a trailer.  When I was growing up and learning to ride, I never wore a helmet, and really only started wearing one when I started jumping.

A helmet won't always save your life or prevent injury in the case of an accident involving horses, but your chances with a helmet are much better than without one.  This lesson was reinforced yesterday for me when I stopped briefly at the barn to say hi to my horses, and I picked up and took home the helmet I was wearing when I had my accident last Saturday.  I'm actually glad I didn't see the helmet before now, because it's a scary sight.  The foam lining on the left side is compressed, there is a large crack running from the side up towards the crown on the inside - almost 4 inches long - as well as several smaller cracks, and there are holes punched in the outside - including one right through the hard plastic shell - by pieces of gravel, and a big dent on the left side to the rear.

Here are some pictures.  Here is the left outside - you can see the gravel holes in the shell towards the center and at the left bottom and the light area in the top left area is the large dent:


And here's the largest crack - there are others - it runs down from the edge past the rivet towards the center:


Seeing the helmet made me realize what a good idea it is for all horsemen and women, no matter the discipline, to wear an approved helmet - it could save your life or prevent other serious injuries - it certainly did in my case.  Those cracks in the helmet could have been cracks in my skull.  Don't make excuses - "people don't wear them", "I don't fall off", "I'm not jumping", "I feel like an idiot", "the helmet messes up my hair", "it's hot and uncomfortable", "I'm just jumping on for a minute", "my horse is bombproof" - just wear a helmet.  It could save your brain or your life.

33 comments:

  1. I wholeheartedly second that. Like yourself, I wouldn't be here but for the helmet I was wearing at the time. Putting up those pictures really brings it home, great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Totally agree. I have never needed my helmet, but I won't ride without it. I'm too old and I break easier than I did when I was younger.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Absolutely, amen, and hear, hear. Everything you've said is right, and the pictures more than prove it. At what price, vanity, huh? Permanent impairments caused by brain injury don't leave us looking all that great either, do they?

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are so right. I don't yet own one but it is the first thing I will buy as soon as I can afford one. I've tried on a number of them and have trouble with fit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I completely agree and I always wear a helmet when riding. What surprises me are the people who have the helmet on with the chinstrap not buckled.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for this post, it is well worth us remembering. I recently decided I wouldn't even catch without my hat on, or work in a stall either...you never know when you might need it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well, you really hit home on that one. You have so many readers I'm sure you have made a few think twice. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. A perfect example of why everyone should wear a helmet... you can have the safest horse ever, but you just never know when something is going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am that rare Western rider that wears a helmet for every ride. This year I am even wearing it in the show ring since horse shows fall under the "every ride" category.
    Wow - your fall makes it pretty darn clear why wearing one is important. I've heard a lot of arguments about how safe someone’s horse is and the chance of them falling are slim to none, but I doubt any of them would have even thought of an unknown medical condition being the cause of a bad fall.

    Glad you are doing well and I so appreciate you sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amen Kate! Excellently put. After my fall last autumn, when my helmet cracked all the way through, I started paying more attention to how many people don't wear helmets. It's surprising and a little scary to me how many people don't!

    ReplyDelete
  11. So glad you are doing ok, and a great idea to post pictures of your helmet. I really believe you have changed minds with your experience.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow!!! You must have been out before you hit the ground to have that much damage to your helmet.

    Very glad you wore it.

    I am an every ride wearer, often put it on way before I even am ready to mount up, and more often put it on when working with Rosie and her ground manners (even though she's MUCH better). I've even stressing over the upcoming show because I don't have a "dressage helmet" and they don't make velvet covers for the type of helmet I have (I don't think).

    Here's to a fast recovery *cheers*

    ReplyDelete
  13. I second and third the notion. My helmet is an absolute every time I get into the saddle.

    Your accident proves once again that there is no way to ever know what's going to happen once you get on a horse--even the safest horse in the safest conditions.

    I am so glad those cracks, dents and holes are in your helmet and not your head! Whew!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Another part of the helmet thing: Every helmet should be replaced after a crash, of course, but helmets still have "shelf lives." The Troxel site says to replace a helmet every five or six years, more often if you're not careful about where you store it.

    The foam lining will eventually harden over time and become brittle and essentially useless for protecting your head.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree 100%! I would contact ridersforhelmets.com they are always looking for new stories.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sydney - great idea - I did send them a brief story and link - and it was an interesting coincidence that my fall occurred on June 11 - their national helmet awareness day.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Count me in with the seconds. Glad you are still here to write about it. How are the horses doing?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for posting the photos of your "brain bucket," Kate. Easy to forget how one good knock to the noggin can cause lifelong problems with memory and personality--if not paralysis or worse.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Helmets are a must around here. Horses are unpredictable and anything can happen. I did a post on this a year or so ago and actually had this guy disagree with me so vehemently that we actually got into it a bit back and forth. I couldn't believe someone could be so set against helmets.

    So glad you were wearing that helmet, it probably saved your life or a really nasty head injury in any case.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good reminder, Kate.

    I wish I had been wearing my helmet on the ground with Apache when she kicked me in the head. I still might have had some injury to my eye, but the helmet may have deflected her hoof and I might not have had as much damage to my eye socket and vision (still having occasional blurriness and double vision even a year later).
    Wearing a helmet while riding is important, but folks should also consider wearing a helmet anytime we're working with horses on the ground, especially while handling their hooves.

    After my son got bucked off a month later after my injury, I was so grateful he was wearing my helmet because he hit his head hard when he landed on his back. After he took the helmet off we were shocked to see a long crack in the outer plastic off the helmet, all the way from crown to neck, along with dents and compression on the inside. That crack could have happened to his skull and he could have been knocked unconscious or been brain damaged.

    Helmets save lives.

    ~Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've been MIA way too long! My goodness!!! First of all, I'm glad to hear you're doing ok. That is so scary!!! One of my friends here just had a fall and a concussion as well--wasn't wearing a helmet and I never do, but I'm thinking after seeing your story and from her experience I'll be finding one soon!! I'm sorry that you've had problems with your heart but glad they caught it in time. I have had a friend die in his sleep from heart problems as well--was only in his 50's and it was completely unexpected. You just never know--I'm sorry you won't be able to ride for a while but glad you're here to update us on how things are going :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I couldn't agree more. I always wear a helmet. Always.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I couldn't agree more! I have similar photos of damage to one of my helmets. I hate to think what might have been if I hadn't had it on. And I'm SO glad you were wearing yours.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The pictures certainly tell the story. I was teased about my helmet at my old barn. Even the little kids there didn't wear helmets. :(

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lori - horses are fine. I've been over to the barn briefly to pat noses, and hope to get back over there soon but need to feel a bit stronger - lying in bed for a week doesn't do much for your strength - and have to take it easy as the concussion heals. Bone healing will take much longer, but I hope to at least be up and around fairly soon.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank god for helmets. I made the decision this year that a helmet will be on my head every time I am on a horse, and your pictures re-afirm my decision.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Bottom line - there is no splint for your brain.

    That's why I wear a helmet. Manure happens.

    On your note on my blog, actually Kathleen Lindley does a good deal of work in round pen at my last clinic, so perhaps Mark does see some benefit to it.

    Still, my issue IS in the saddle. But I see my round pen work as giving me a bit of a head start. It focuses both of us.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I haven't been here for a while and was sorry to hear you were in the accident but so glad you were protecting that good brain of yours with a helmet. I always think my cowboy hat is like one, the wide brim acting as the shock absorber like the foam in yours. They really do help in a fall as both my husband and I have found out. I have a brain injured friend who suffers terribly and she can tell how important it is to protect your head. Thanks for reminding us all.

    ReplyDelete
  29. As you've proven: Always wear a helmet because you never know what could happen. Nobody could plan for what happened to you. Thank goodness for that helmet!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, that's a lot of damage to that helmet. You are very lucky.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Helmets are so critical! I always wear one when riding. Even if you trust your horse and it is very well trained, there are outside factors that that we cannot control. I am glad that you had a helmet on and are safe!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.