ridecamp@endurance.net: The Helmet Question (a different angle)

The Helmet Question (a different angle)

K S Swigart (katswig@deltanet.com)
Thu, 13 Feb 1997 14:17:53 -0800 (PST)

I hesitate to even mention this as it is unlikely that there is anything
anybody can say to change anybody's mind. People appear to fall firmly
in one of three camps:

1. Those who don't wear a helmet, don't want to wear a helmet, and
don't want to be MADE to wear a helmet.
2. Those who religiously wear helmets themselves but are unwilling to
force their religion on the unconverted.
3. The inquisitors, who having found salvation and safety in helmets
themselves, would like to impose their religion on everybody else.

You can tell from the way I put this, which camp I DON'T fall into.

However, there is another aspect of this question which has not been
covered, which I think is quite relevant.

Last week I sustained a mild head injury (bit of a bump, bit of a
bruise, and bit of a head ache). No, I wasn't wearing a helmet. While
working a two year old filly (those of you who know how rabid I am about
not riding two year olds should be immediately clued into the fact that
this was not a riding accident), I got my head caught between the two
year old and a fence post.

Could this have been a more serious injury? Yes.
Had I been wearing a helmet, would I have been saved from a more serious
injury? Maybe.

However, I don't hear anybody recommending that (like the Girl Scouts)
everybody should and should be required to wear a helmet at all times
while around horses. Even though, if I had to guess (and from my own
experience), far more head injuries occur around horses when people are
NOT mounted. But that is beside the point.

The fact is...the cause of my injury (mild though it was) was not that I
wasn't wearing a helmet, but rather that I was dumb enough to stick my
head between Marla (the two year old filly) and a hard place (the fence

What nobody has bothered to mention here is that what might be a BETTER
way to reduce the incidence of head injuries is to teach people to watch
out for their head when they are around or mounted on horses. As an
example: whoever it was who was saved from a branch by his
helmet....maybe, if he hadn't been wearing a helmet, he would have seen it
coming....and ducked, and then the branch would have missed him all

A good way to avoid a head injury when falling off a horse is to learn
(and yes, that may mean practice) how to fall without hitting your head.

I am NOT being facetious here. There is no doubt in my mind that the
best way to avoid injury when falling (and I learned this as a skier) is
to fall properly. Considering the fact that trail riding is rife with
falls (we just had a week's worth of hearing about everybody's falls),
it would behoove us a trail riders to include falling properly as part
of basic training.

Lest you think that this is not possible, it is something that is taught
in martial arts all the time. The reason other people hurt themselves
when they fall off horses, and I don't isn't because I am wearing the
appropriate protective clothing, and it isn't because I am lucky, but
rather because I know how to fall without hurting myself.

A helmet is not the only way to protect your head from injury.

The AERC rules remain silent with regards to the requirement for
protective clothing (of all types)..as well they should. They don't try
to tell me the kind of shoes I should wear. They shouldn't try to tell
me the kind of hat I should wear either.

Orange County, Calif.

p.s. In case
you were wondering, no, I don't wear a helmet, because not only is a helmet
not the only way to protect your head, I am unconvinced that...for me...it
is the best way. In fact, it is possible that just maybe, the best way
isn't the same for every person.

Mostly, I choose my riding
clothing to protect me from the weather (whether the sun, the rain, or
the snow), and I think that people who ride endurance bare headed, in
shorts and a tank top are absolutely bonkers. I have far more concern
for effects of the sun, which I must constantly face, than I do for the
ground or stray branches....which I can, with prudence, effectively avoid.

If anybody is interested in the other reasons that I don't ride in a
helmet, they can e-mail me privately. I will only say...it has nothing
to do with not wanting to mess up my hair. They are, I think, good
reasons relevant to safety issues. It is not just because I haven't
thought about it.

They can also e-mail me privately if they are interested in my opinion
about why the AERC is concerning itself over the helmet question. Oddly
enough, I don't think it has anything to do with safety issues or
liability issues. It is merely an issue of public perception.

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