As many of you already know, today is International Helmet Awareness Day. Organized by the popular Helmet Awareness Campaign, Riders4Helmets, International Helmet Awareness Day is designed to educate equestrians on the benefits of wearing certified helmets. Riders4Helmets has teamed up with many of the leading helmet manufacturers to offer discounts on helmets and a huge number of retailers have already signed up. Now is a great time to get a helmet at a great price.
I haven't always worn a helmet. Back in my younger days, my mom forced me to wear a helmet whenever I was on horseback and I absolutely hated it. I thought I looked stupid, I was hot, and the other kids didn't have to wear one (you know, the typical excuses). As my skill level increased, she did let me get away with not wearing one every once in a while, but she wasn't happy about it. She knew I was vulnerable on horseback no matter how skilled I was, who I was riding, or in what discipline.
I always found it interesting that the 4-H rules for our week long county fair stated that anyone under 18 years of age MUST wear an approved helmet when riding english, but if we were showing western or riding in our western tack at the end of the day for schooling, they weren't required. Were we safer in our western saddles? Hardly! I remember kids always riding western when they schooled so they didn't have to wear a helmet. They did make us wear helmets for 'speed and action' day, thank goodness. Why not a blanket rule stating we must wear helmets whenever we were on our horses period?
When I grew up and moved away I adopted my very own "helmets suck" policy and I didn't wear one. Thank goodness both of my horses were easy going and fairly easy to train... Lilly only bucked me off once during her training when I was trying to get her to canter, and I wasn't wearing a helmet. I always seem to land on my head too, but I lucked out. I was very fortunate to never have a serious horse-related accident because I could have been seriously injured.
I'm smarter now than I used to be, although there have been times where I have ridden helmet-less. In fact, there are some recent pictures on this blog of me on Lilly's back without a helmet. It isn't often I ride without one, but we all know it only takes that one time... I'm to the point now where I feel a little "naked" without my helmet and I need to do better about making sure it's on my head EVERY time I get on to ride.
I used to ride in a Troxel helmet, but I eventually decided that I hated that helmet more than words could say.* I have an oval head and it's difficult to find hats/helmets that actually fit. Since I had decided I was going ride in proper attire (helmet included) I decided to drive down to the local tack shop and try on the helmets they had in stock. Whichever helmet fit my head the best was coming home with me, no matter the cost. I ended up getting an IRH ATH style helmet, which was way more than I ever dreamed of spending on a helmet, but it's like heaven on my head. It fits perfectly, is light, airy, soft, and oh so comfortable. I actually look forward to putting it on my head!
It doesn't matter how experienced you are or how bomb-proof your horse is. A simple fall by your horse can send you flying... horseback riding is dangerous and we all need to be very careful when we ride. If you don't have one already, please consider purchasing a helmet, and wear it every time you ride!
* (Nothing against Troxel, by the way... I had a Troxel earlier in life that I loved but had to replace when I fell of at Alex's clinic. I just couldn't find the same style and was never happy with the replacement.)