Friday, June 18, 2010

This is why you always wear a helmet

If you look back to a post on helmets I did a little over a year ago you will see I almost always wear a helmet and feel like all riders should. I also wrote a post about my stories of falling off, which people always seem to find humorous.

Yesterday was no exception. I fell off and I fell hard.

My friend Korinne and I were riding around. I was on Indigo and she was on Sheba. We were cantering and galloping up and down the fresh cut windrows of hay when we decided we were going to go down the road to the neighbors lane and then way back around to the farm. We did just that. Both horses were on their best behaviors.

We crossed a ditch, rode through some tall weeds, a few fields and made it back to the lane of the farm.

All three turbines are up and two of them were turning last night. The horses paid no mind as we rode underneath them. They hardly make any noise and if theres something else making noise it's very hard to hear them even right near the base.
By the time we went past the last turbine (which is actually the first being closest to the farm) it was about 5 pm. The shadows were not quite long yet so right in the gravel lane where we rode the black outline of the spinning blades crossed our path.

Indigo confidently walked right into the shadows before they started hitting her. Every time a black shadow would touch her she would flinch like someone was whacking her with a whip on the head. I took my feet out of the stirrups to dismount before she panicked but it was too late. I had one leg half over her in a dismount and she was gone right out from underneath me. I landed tailbone first, followed by my back and head on the 2 inch stone laneway, a part that no trucks drove so it wasn't even compacted. I heard a distinct POP as the air pocket inside my helmet ruptured upon impact, the part that is designed to rupture when impacted to save your noggin. I went back today and seen there is definitely a very distinct butt mark where my rear collided with the stone and slid it making a pretty accurate impression of my behind before my back and head hit.

Before I could even lie there for a moment and address that I had fallen off I was up on my feet cussing and looking to make sure Korinne was ok. Sheba had run in the other direction away from the horse eating shadows and was wide eyed and snorty; as excited as that horse has ever been to my knowledge. Indigo had taken off halfway into the corn field and stopped to stuff her face (you big, big pig!)

So I walked into the field to get my snacking horse and walked back to the turbine shadows that eat horses. She was really scared but followed me anyway. This horse trusts me a lot. Again, every time the shadow would hit her she would jump on the spot, Eventually after a minute she stopped jumping and relaxed, licking her lips because she realized the danger was over and the shadows did not actually eat horses. We walked home, I was moaning and groaning the whole way.

Once I got back my shoulders were itchy. I moved my hair only to discover there was a big hole in the back of my shirt. My favorite doggoned shirt!!
What was worse was underneath the shirt. My back literally looks like a cat went feral on it. The large 2 inch stones that made the laneway up tore my back up one side and down the other. I really did think my tailbone was broken too. Until about 10 pm when I finally broke down and took something. Just above my butt hurt soooo bad. I couldn't sit, lying down felt better but not for long. Lets just say thank goodness for Arnica gel being in the house and boyfriends that bring you polysporin when you have none; even if it stings and I dance around when it gets put on my back cuts.

To educate my 4-H kids and just mostly because I like to cut things in half with a hacksaw I took my busted up helmet outside and did just that with it. It's neat to see the air pockets that protect your head. Take note of the white foam at the top right hand side there still in tact on the non-injured side of the helmet.

Heres the physical outer damage to my helmet before I sawed it in half. I went boy, did I miss cracking my melon up. Theres a notable dent along with the velvet being ripped.

The half I threw away was the damaged half. The white foam on the top right hand side was compressed to less than half. When I went to pry around a bit the white foam which was apparently not only acting as a buffer for my skull but helping glue the two halves together totally crumbled and the outer shell and inside protective styrofoam came apart. Apparently because of the impact. I know I would have been in the hospital if I did not have my helmet on.

I have to say the only helmets I have ever bought, in the exception of one was international riding helmets. This is the style I had, the ATH DFS. It fit me the best out of most helmets I tried on and was under $150. I hated all the other dial helmets I tried on and still prefer one without a dial because I seem to constantly be turning it and can never get the perfect fit.
Troxel helmets just do not seem to fit my head and seem too wide in the sides and too narrow front to back which equals a major headache with long rides. In fact I still have my first helmet which was an international olympian velvet hunt cap, certified of course back then, but not now for most horse sports. I still love the look of old hunt caps though with the upside down ribbon on the back. The one exception was some off brand bicycle style helmet rather than my preferred velvet. The plastic bicycle shell popped right off when I accidentally dropped it down the stairs, even though it was ASTM and BSI certified. I learned my lesson about cheap off brand helmets.

I do have to say compared to other times I have bonked my mellon I did not have the classical headache and I hit my head far harder this time than I have with my old hunt style caps. This helmet truely does offer a better design.

International has a warranty that they will replace your helmet for a small fee if you have the original receipt. Unfortunately I do not have the original for this helmet because it was a chrismas gift. The date of manufacture was september 20th 2008. On the certification tag it stated the ASTM and SEI certified tag, which all helmets used for riding should have (make sure yours has it!). I wish I would have been given a receipt but since I had tried on this helmet and liked it the people who gifted it to me knew I likely was not going to return it.
I went to the tack shop today and showed the owner of the store my back and my helmet which she was shocked I was walking around today and going to bale hay this evening. I feel a lot better today, a lot better than I anticipated last night. It's still hard to bend down and I keep accidentally beeping my horn getting out of the vehicle as I try and heave myself out without straining my butthurt.

So here goes to wearing a helmet, every time, every ride/drive. I was on a pretty reliable horse and I fell off when I was dismounting. Not at a gallop, not jumping or barrel racing. I was dismounting and Indigo did the classical teleport out from under me wile I had one leg in the air. Not something you would expect but something to definately think about next time you saddle up.


Anonymous said...

Helmets are essential because human heads are essential - that is if you want to live. So glad the helmet took the blow, and hope all your other damaged parts recover!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I love my helmet and wear it on every ride out. Sometimes I even wear it while handling my horse on the ground, like picking out her feet, etc. It's a Troxel and it fits my head so well and is so comfortable that I forget I'm wearing it.
I find that I feel exposed and naked if I forget to put my helmet on now.

I'm so glad you weren't seriously injured and I hope the discomfort from your tailbone and back go away soon.


Breathe said...

I am with you on this. They are called accidents because they can't be anticipated. I have friends who would never not wear their seatbelts, but never wear helmets.

crazy. Glad you are (mostly) ok.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Oy! Sorry that happened to you. I think it's really cool that you cut the helmet in half for your 4-H kids, though. I have a Troxel helmet and had a rep from the company fit it to me. The helmets have different shapes, and apparently I have a more uncommon shaped head. Oh yeah, and I accidentally beep my horse with my elbow every time I turn around to see if I'm backing the horse trailer into something. My husband always comes running out of the house thinking I need help.

jane augenstein said...

Oh Sydney! So glad you had your helmet on! So sorry you got skinned up, that must HURT....get better soon!!!!

juliette said...

Ouch! Sounds like you took a horrible fall on an unkind surface. Glad you had a good helmet on! I have a Troxel - the kind without the dial - I hate that dial thing - it hurts my head. I love my helmet and I wear it every time and even while grooming sometimes. I hope it could take the impact yours took - I also hope I don't have that kind of fall - my tailbone hurts just from riding - I couldn't take that! lol! Feel better soon!

Paint Girl said...

Your fall sounds exactly like mine a few years ago, the way you landed and the helmet. Also the injuries. I am glad you are okay and weren't hurt worse!! Thank goodness for your helmet!

from my front porch... said...

I am so very glad you are alright!
We had a tragic accident here last week. A 10 yr old was killed when she fell off. She was wearing a helmet-but not the right kind. It was heartbreaking that this could have been prevented for her.

Let your body rest a little!
xo, misha

Sydney_bitless said...

Thanks for all your kind comments. I must have an odd shaped head because I have yet to find a troxel that fitted me and I have been fitted by a representative before too. I just have a long head I guess. Most helmets feel shallow and narrow front to back and too wide from side to side.
Misha- That is so sad. Theres a girl a county over that did not have a helmet on and woke up from the ordeal with an Irish accent. I kid you not it's a rare neurological disorder lol.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Wow, I'm glad you're okay! And thanks for the reminder.

JeniQ said...

I'm so glad you are ok Sydney not hurt any worse then you are.

I hate my helmet and am searching for the perfect one.

Jen said...

I like Rocky Road okay as an ice cream, but definitely not as a landing site (yeesh). Glad you weren't hurt, and what a terrific idea to whack the helmet in half for your 4-H'ers! Yesterday must have been scary booger day or something I guess. Shadow was all goosey about the wind in the trees (which, of course, we've NEVER had before *rolls eyes* :o)

Dreaming said...

I'm glad you are OK. What a great post. EVERYONE should read it and heed it!

Michaela said...

Wait so the air pockets pop every time you fall? Is that why they say you should replace it every time you do fall? I've fallen a lot with my current Troxel since I got it last year, so I guess it's time for a new one. My dad will be pissed about spending money but he will if it means protecting my 15 year old head.

That's interesting about the IRH warranty maybe I'll go for one of those. I've only ever gotten Troxels because they always fit my big head nicely and nicer IRH's are usually a bit pricier.

Rhonda said...

This was bad enough, but glad it wasn't worse! Thanks for the lesson in helmet-wearing. :)

Beth said...

Wow that was really weird about the shadows! Glad she got over it.

I love that you cut open you helmet and that is a really good reminder that we never know what we are going to encounter on a trail. Glad you were okay.

GunDiva said...

I'm glad you're okay. Those kinds of accidents suck. I have to admit, I'm not much of a helmet girl. I wear one when I'm bareback, because there's nothing to grab onto to save myself from a fall.

I understand that they're good protection, and I know I should wear one all the time, but I just haven't gotten into the habit yet.

whisper_the_wind said...

My best friend has permanent brain damage from a fall without a helmet. She had 2 brain bleeds (front and back), spent a week in the hospital, and has had a definite personality change. We no longer ride together because she still refuses to wear a helmet, and I won't ride without one. I even offered to buy her one, her helmets are for sissies...

Shirley said...

What a scare! Most of us have fallen off horses, and I have been fortunate to escape serious injury. It is always unexpected things that get you, usually when you are all relaxed and almost home. I'm glad you weren't seriously injured. You might try wintergreen oil for your bruised tailbone.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

wow..glad to hear you are OK and that your head was protected.
The's so funny. For years I rode with a helmet, then for a full summer I rode without one, and I def put too many risks in that summer.
NOW, I always ride with my helmet (well, I try to always...there has been a couple of times where for a couple of minutes I was like..shoot, I need my helmet!) but I made my promise to myself to stick with it and wear it always, always, always.
Thanks for again, the reminder why.

Anonymous said...

So glad your wern't hurt worse! I agree with you ad everyone else, and wear my helmet for every ride- every time. I had to learn the hard way but it was a lesson well learned. Hope you're feeling better!!

And thanks for sharing that picture! I love that kind of stuff!

CTG Ponies said...

Sorry you feel yucky. Hope you feel better soon.

I kept my banged up helmet too. Reminds me to always wear my helmet. It looks fine on the outside (Tipperary Sportage) but the inside padding is all spidered. I got my foot in the stirrup and was in the process of swinging my leg over when the mare that we had blew and did a pretty good impression of a rodeo bronc. I landed on my back too and smacked my head. Gave me a concussion but I didn't lose consciousness. Good thing too since she came back to run me over. Luckily my daughter was in the ring on my trusty Jet and headed her off.

Lyndsey White said...

Hi Sydney, another equine blogger directed me to your article on helmets. I am the co-founder of and National Helmet Awareness Day on July 10th (now have 8 participating manufacturers and over 100 retailers signed up for the day). I wondered if we could possibly re-post your article on the website obviously with full credit to you, a link to your blog and a photo of you as well. Your article is excellent and highlights not only how helmets save heads but also why it is necessary to replace them. We would be extremely grateful if it would be possible to republish this excellent article. The website is getting up to 700 hits per day and I would like people to read what you have to say. Kind Regards, Lyndsey 859-420-1006 or

Leah Fry said...

If someone feels it's their right to not wear a helmet when they ride, more power to them. As for me, I wear one every time. Stuff happens way too fast and without warning with horses.

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