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[RC] My Helmet Test - Paul

When I first started doing endurance, my wife insisted that I wear a helmet. All my life. I have avoided wearing even hats, as my hair is thick and my head gets too hot and sweaty. But as a compromise for being allowed to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a hobby, I have agreed to wear a helmet whenever I ride. It is a fair trade, and I have done so for a couple of years now.
So this past Monday, a couple of local riders were coming over to my place for a training ride. (We adjoin 2900 acres of State Conservation Land). I got to the barn a little late, so they headed out on trail ahead of me. I saddled up my 4 year old, General Lee, who is showing a lot of promise to become an Endurance Horse. We went to my round pen to do  a little warm-up, and when I went to get on him, disaster struck.
In an effort to improve my posture, I sometimes wear an elastic back brace, ( like a Wal-Mart employee type thing). When I first mounted, the darned velcro came undone and it fell off. So I dismounted and started to get on him again. Perhaps the focus was too much about keeping the gut sucked in, so the darned belt didn't fall off again, but anyways, my right foot didn't clear the saddle cantle and instead bounced off and onto General Lees back. Being a sensitive horse he tucked his back end down a bit and took a step forward. This of course led to my leg/foot sliding a bit further down his back, which encouraged him to take another step forward. As a natural consequence of these moves, I wound up hanging off to the side, with my legs trying to do the splits on a moving horse. As a 58 year old male non-yoga practitioner, this did not work well for me.
As this point events seemed to speed up quite a bit. After flying off and hitting the ground flat on my back, (note to self: quit putting off getting sand for the round pen to cover the rocks. It really hurts when you land on them), I was dragged a few feet before getting my left foot out of the stirrup. (This happens when you instinctively yell loudly upon hitting the ground. The horse is likely to quickly move on out). At some point in the festivities, General Lees rear hoof and my head made contact . My helmet has scrapes and scratches, but no cracks. My head has no cracks that were not there previously.
I wound up with a good sized raspberry colored bruise on my face and scrapes and bruises  all down my shoulder and back. Every back muscle on my left side is swollen and really sore, but x-rays showed no broken bones. Guess this extra flesh I've been carrying is good for something, like cushioning bones from breakage.
Of course even though it wasn't General Lees fault, you still have to show a young horse that they can't get away with things like this. So after washing the blood off my face, I put a halter on him, tied him to the fence and got on and off him a half dozen times to ensure he understands the importance of standing still while the rider is mounting or dismounting. Usually he does this very well, but it was good to reinforce this. After that, we rode about 5 miles until my muscles tightened up too much. It will be a couple of weeks until I can get on a horse again, but without the helmet, it would have been longer. 
It is ironic that I have ridden some of the most rugged trails in the country with out a problem, and get stoved up getting on a well broke horse in my own round pen. As soon as the swelling goes down, I will laugh about this. Right now it hurts too much to laugh.
Thank you Sue Crewes, (who nagged at me for years about helmets) and Thank you to my wife who demanded it.
Paul N. Sidio
Piper (Yippie , two more weeks off before the Old Dominion)
Spokane MO