We all wear helmets while riding bicycles or motorbikes, but when it comes to riding on a horseback, be it over the trails in the woods or be it on a racetrack, most of us are averse to wearing helmets. Why do we have such tendency? I can think of at least one reason, although it might sound silly, is that you immediately start thinking of a “Western” setting when you are on a horse back. You are another John Wayne or Franco Niro or Clint Eastwood; a macho man with a half smoked cigar between your lips.
A helmet, by no standard, goes with this picture and that is why people have all kinds of excuses for not wearing a helmet during a horse ride. My favorite excuse, especially in the summer time, is that helmets are hot and uncomfortable. There are many other excuses out there that people who don’t want to wear helmets during horse ride put forward for their justifications. Following are the most common excuses from people not wanting to wear helmets on horse rides:
- Wearing helmet may penalize me in the show ring: Judges in a show may penalize the rider(s) wearing helmet where other riders are wearing hats. However, the person wearing a helmet is purely doing it for safety reasons; there should be no penalty for that.
- I am experienced in emergency stop and dismounting: Undoubtedly, these are significant skills to be learnt for horse riding but there is no guarantee of effectiveness. Your skill can never be an alternative to the protection a helmet is able to provide.
- Helmet causes headaches: Apparently, it may sound legitimate as the helmet is wrapped around your skull for quite some time. Nevertheless, its not the helmet that causes headache; it is the dehydration of your body from sweating. Moreover, there are lightweight helmets available for people who are sensitive to heat.
- Veteran riders don’t need helmets: As impressive as the statement may sound, statistics say otherwise. A team of Alberta based researchers has documented the reported injuries from horse riding and on an average, those riders have 27 years of riding experience.
- Helmets are against the tradition of Western horse riding: This is absolutely true; traditionally there were no helmets for horse riders anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, tradition may alter as per needs and not everybody is a “Western” cowboy. The safety of the horse rider is important and that’s why helmets should be worn.
- Helmets cost a lot of money: This not really a genuine excuse; you can buy a helmet for as little as $50.00 and what are fifty dollars compared to the hospital bill if (God forbid) you get into an accident and are hospitalized? Spending a small amount as precaution is wiser than leaving yourself vulnerable to some mishap.
Wearing a helmet during horse riding, be it recreational or competitive, is nothing but a safety measure. Some people don’t want to wear helmets and they have their reasons or excuses; however, by putting a helmet over your head, you are minimizing the risk of hurting your brain, the most important part of your body. Besides, taking a safety measure like that puts your family members at ease and the horse riding show becomes more enjoyable.