Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two cents tuesday

Yup, you are getting my two cents. The title fits appropriately for the day.

First of all, who wears helmets? Who doesn't? Why? What discipline do you ride?

I wear a helmet about 80% of the time.
I think I am experienced enough around horses that I don't need to be told that the only thing predictable about horses is that they are unpredictable.
The 10% I don't wear a helmet is for when I do carriage rides for weddings and when I do pleasure driving classes at a show. Sometimes I just jump on bareback in the paddock but I ain't galloping around or anything. I've fallen off too and it's stupid but I guess I just gotta be a kid sometimes(still lol!).
I didn't wear a helmet when I drove until a year ago I seen the aftermath of a harness malfunction that caused the horse to come to a screeching halt as it got caught up on a guard rail. The driver was saved by his helmet as he quite literally did a superman impression out of the abruptly stopped carriage that was previously going at a wild gallop, attached to a horse.

I've cracked a helmet or two. My first one I dropped down the stairs. My dad didn't want to replace it so I had to go without riding until I saved up to buy a good velvet, top of the line helmet at the time. It cost me over 100$ and took me a month to save the money.

I cracked that one falling of a horse going at a full out gallop, being chased by a dog. The horse jumped the ditch, I lost both stirrups, wheeled her around and she went back over the ditch where I promptly jumped off and fell like a sack of potatoes in a frozen November field on my left side. My left leg was stepped on by the mare and my rotator cuff in my left shoulder was torn. It's still not normal today and is a bit frozen but my head was safe.
I still have that helmet. It's got a big crack in it.

The whole point of this post is to make people think about helmets. I stress each and every meeting with my group of 4H kids how important safety is. Safety comes before anything when it comes to horses. Helmets are to fit properly and be worn every time, not just because it's law here but because it's stupid not to.

Here are some facts:

A horseback rider is likely to have a serious accident every 300 hours of riding.
A motorcycle rider is likely to have a serious accident every 3500 hours of riding.

Because of your position, the circumstances, environment and unpredictability of a horse your experience as a rider, trainer etc is not guaranteed to protect you 100% of the time. Circumstances often leave it impossible to adjust your body position to correct yourself from hitting your head on something.

Riding injuries occur not because of the forward motion and speed of the horse, but the distance between the ground and your head.

A SEI/ASTM certified helmet is made to protect your head. Hunt caps for cosmetic purposes only protect your head from under 300g(g- gravitational force). They actually just barely make it to 200g. 300g is the minimum to create a serious, life threatening head injury. They drop all sorts of helmets from a 1.8 meter distance to the ground and only helmets that pass the SEI/ASTM certification process can be used for equestian events. SEI/ASTM helmets protect up to 800g! If that isn't a reason in itself to wear a certified helmet I don't know what is.

There are also various reasons riders do not wear helmets. I'll dispel a few.

I am experienced enough not to:
Research shows that more than 50% of riders that were admitted for serious injures had over 20 years of horse experience! wow.
No matter how many years of riding you have a horse is still a horse. I bring my horses out so often into very challenging situations most horse owners and riders wouldn't dare. They are dangerous and the horses are well trained and conditioned so not much bothers them. One day something completely new and scary can happen that you and no one else has any control over. For instance as I mentioned about me being chased by the dog and falling off. I had no control over that. I couldn't dismount because we were galloping through the field long before the dog had appeared and decided to chase us. I had no whip or way of getting rid of the dog and although the mare is not and was not afraid of dogs there was no way to tell her it was not going to eat her. Emergency dismounts couldn't have saved me because I would have been in the exact same situation and often times you don't know you are going to fall because it happens so fast and so quick you couldn't place yourself right if you tried.

I get a headache when I wear a helmet:
Then your helmet does not fit you properly. I have been in this boat. I wore this helmet for 5 minutes and I had the most splitting headache just like that. I never wore it again and never had that problem since.
A helmet should sit about a finger or two above your eyebrows and you should be able to shake your head back and forth and side to side without it falling off or sliding WITHOUT it being buckled up. The buckle should be snug but not loose where the helmet could slide back and expose your head.

Helmets are hot, uncomfortable or ugly:
This one with the number of styles, shapes, sizes and makes out there it should fit any riders budget or needs. There are even western hat helmets out there if you prefer a hat. I found my old helmets to be hot but I went with it. I also hated the dial fitting system but now they don't make them without it. I had to search high and low to find a dial helmet that I liked and was comfortable. I found international was the best for their dials and fit for me. A lot of people prefer Troxel but I am not a fan of how Troxel's helmets fit my head and I never found one that did fit right. Now I have a vented international velveteen "skunk stripe" helmet. I find a draft hits right above my forehead from the ventsso it's not hot at all.

It'll give me hat hair:
I personally can take my helmet off and my hair does not look any different. A blowdryer, brush and some styling products are easy to apply and fix but brains are a little harder to remedy; especially if they are someplace other than in your skull.

It's not tradition:
Cowboy hats were worn to protect a persons head from the sun, rain, wind etc why not make it tradition to protect your brain now that we have the technology.

I show and can't wear one:
I'll bet you on this one. If you were to wear a helmet and not place in a show and try and blame it on the headgear, I bet you if you asked the judge if he/she placed you lower in the class because of it you won't hear a yes. What you might hear is a few pointers on how you or your horse rode. Tough luck cookie but judges and shows do not penalize helmet wearers in this day and age.

They are expensive!:
Certified helmets are going for $29 and up! If you can't afford a low price like that should you really have a horse? The price of a helmet is cheaper than a hospital bill or funeral.
I guess if you still say no your brains are not worth the price of a helmet.
P.S.- If you donate your organs when you die can I have your brain? It'll be hardly used.

So there we have it. Who wears a helmet and who doesn't? Why/why not?

Oh and for you trail riders, the majority of accidents where someone was seriously injured was out on the trail. You can try and moderately control the environment in a paddock or arena, but not on a trail. Nature does as it sees fit.


The Wife said...

Well, I see you are passionate about helmets. I've never really thought about the issue. No one in my family wore one and no one I knew wore one. Never actually saw anyone wear one.

The Wife said...

But maybe I just hung out with ignorant people?! Probably so!

Haha, my word verification is "spooky"!

Sydney said...

hahaha thats funny.

No one I knew wore a helmet but I did. Some people argue they don't save lives 100% of the time but neither do seat belts, air bags or parachutes.

Pony Girl said...

I'm a helmet girl now. I wasn't when I was a kid. I posted about the new helmet I want a week ago. I feel better in one, especially on the trail, or when I'm loping. I know things happen at all speeds with horses, and I don't want a false sense of security, but I also skip it around 10% of the time, like you.
Great facts and post. I think despite the fact that we are statistically safer with helmets, people are still going to have their own opinions and do what they want, which is fine, it's their choice.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

"often times you don't know you are going to fall because it happens so fast and so quick you couldn't place yourself right if you tried."

That as true a statement as ever could be. That happened to me on Christmas Eve. And I always thought that if I ever fell, I'd just pick myself up, dust myself off and I'd be bruised but that's all.

Hah! That was 4 months ago, after knee reconstruction surgery, lots of pain and frustration...and I just started walking without crutches last week!

Sure wish they made helmets for other parts of the body. sigh.

I always wear a helmet, though. I like my white helmet. It is well ventilated and reflects heat and it fits me so well, I forget I'm even wearing it.

Good post!


Sydney said...

"I always wear a helmet, though. I like my white helmet. It is well ventilated and reflects heat and it fits me so well, I forget I'm even wearing it"

Butt buckets. I think I have bruised my arse more times from falling on it than my head for sure!

CurtsBooks said...

I'm a helmet person too. Way back in High School I acquired two brain concussions. That was quite enough for me. I know that there are some that say that wearing a helmet is no replacement for good riding/horsemanship, and I have never felt a false sense of security wearing my helmet. I would say that it reminds me every time I get ready to ride that I could indeed come off and that reminds me to give myself the time to check out where the horse is that day, at that moment and not get on until the horse is truly with me.
Even the most "bombproof and broke, gentle" horse can have a rodent burrow cave-in beneath his hoof. And, yeah, I've done that one; both horse and I ended up going down. It was in the middle of our dirt road, for crying outloud; there was no indication there was a rodent burrow down there.


Sydney said...

Another good point.
I've had that happen only it was a ditch that created a trench under the ground strangely. Luckily I was walking my horse and not cantering or I might have been catapulted over her head.

One Red Horse said...

Commenting MONTHS after you wrote this excellent piece. Heck Yeah, helmets are the way to go.

jane augenstein said...

Just found you.
Good post, Sydney! As a kid I never wore a helmet, no one did but that was back in the early 60's so I don't think there were any back then? I have a helmet now and try to wear it all the time but there are times when I forget to put it on....I am doing better though! :-)
Jane and Gilly

jane augenstein said...

Oh, one more thing, my horse, Gilly, and I are bitless also!!! :-)

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