I may be a young adult but in my 9 years of horse ownership and riding I've seen this potentially deadly mistake done by well-meaning parents more times than I can count. Even worse, I've seen this error committed at 4H events, horse rental rides at public stables and even by riding instructors. This dangerous mistake I'm talking about involves a common piece of riding safety equipment: helmets. Can you guess what specific type of helmet I'm talking about yet?
I'm a huge candidate for wearing helmets while riding. I don't care if you're 5 years old riding on a sweet old 25 yr old pony or a nimble 30 yr old cowboy who rode before he could walk. You might feel silly wearing a helmet but when you're laid up in the hospital with a broken leg but an intact head, you won't regret it. At least consider wearing a helmet when working with green horses or in uncontrollable surroundings by yourself, say a solo trail ride. Now back to the real subject!
Bicycle Helmets ARE NOT Acceptable for Equestrian Activities
Regardless of what Joe down the street told you or what you read somewhere on the internet, bicycle helmets are not acceptable for riding. Period. Some people try and argue that bicycle helmets and equestrian helmets offer the same protection. This couldn't be further from the truth. Lets look at this logically.
Bicycle Accident vs Horse Accident
- On a bicycle you're maybe 2 or 3 feet off the ground
- The average bicycle accident occurs at a speed of 10 mph or less
- If you bump your head, it'll likely be on flat ground or a curb slope
- Head injuries usually occur on the top of the head
- On a horse you can be upwards of 6ft+ above the ground
- Horses can reach speeds of 35+ mph
- Falling off a horse usually happens at fast speeds and over obstacles
- If you bump your head it could be a swift horse hoof, a sharp jump cup or a tree branch
Did I mentioned that an adult skull can shatter are only 2ft above the ground at a speed of 4 to 6 mph? A horse accident is more likely to be deadly than a bicycle accident. Bicycle accidents just do not compare to a flying lesson from an equine's back and neither do the helmets. The only helmet that will help protect you or your loved one from a potentially deadly head injury is an ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmet.
Invest in an ASTM/SEI Helmet
Horse-related accidents can happen anytime, any place, with the calmest horse. The one thing horses are most predictable at is being unpredictable. I've seen and ridden on well-adjusted backwoods savvy horses spook at the silliest thing that you wouldn't expect. Children's reflexes are less well developed and they are more likely to fall. I personally can't understand how parents or any adult can allow a child to ride with a bicycle helmet just to save a few bucks. The price of a good-quality equestrian helmet is nothing compared to a person's life. You can find lightly used helmets through tack swaps, friends, classifieds and online. Just be sure they are well-cared for and have never been dropped. I do recommend buying a helmet new just in case.
Have you ever unknowingly used or were recommended to use a bicycle helmet? Have you, like me, seen a scary number of adults allowing kids to use them? Feel free to comment down below, share this warning on your social media accounts and vote up!
(Photo Credit: Carlos Ciudad Trilla via Flickr Creative Commons)