Do You Always Wear A Helmet When Riding Horses?
 By Hypnotic Equus   •   28th Nov 2010   •   8,429 views   •   11 comments
There are many people in the world today who ride horses. Unfortunately, a large amount of them do not wear helmets, from a self-taught trail rider to a proffesional dressage rider or reiner. The greatest concentration of helmet-less riders is in the experienced to professional range. They have many excuses to not wear helmets:

"Oh, I've been riding since before I could walk," "I'm just doing dressage today, I only wear a helmet when I jump 4' 7"."
"I am riding a 20 year old trail horse, he won't spook at anything"

Trexel Horse HelmetBut the truth is, no matter what you are doing, it is nearly as dangerous as the next thing you could be doing. Even if you are just planning on doing an easy trail walk, think for a minute that most fatal head injuries occur at the walk, not from falling off over a jump or a spook. Even if you are on a quiet old horse, the unthinkable can happen in a split second.

The risk of head injuries resulting from a fall are astounding. Equestrian riders are hospitalized because of serious head injuries more often than hockey, football, soccer, or boxing. We wear helmets in two of those sports, the other two we have things flying at high speeds toward our heads. You would think there would be more injuries resulting from these sports, but the truth of the matter is that horsebackriding is the most dangerous sport where head injuries are concerned. You wear a helmet in footbal and hockey, why not with horses?

A fall from only 2 feet can cause permanent and fatal brain damage. A horse elevates a riders head about 8 feet off the ground on average. This means that a fall from a horse on an unprotected head is more than likely to be fatal. A human skull can be shattered at speeds of only 7-10kph, whereas horses can gallop up to 65kph. A fall at a trot or canter is extremely likely to be fatal. Before you go saying that it's not like you go 80 miles per hour on the freeway on a motorcycle without a helmet, realize this: Horseback riding, in the aspect of head injuries, is more dangerous than motorcycle riding.

A motorcycle rider can expect a serious injury for every 7,000 hours of riding, where a rider can expect 1 for every 350 hours of riding.

That is 1 serious injury every year, and it takes only 1 fall to end a life. 30 million americans regularly ride horse, and about 50,000 are hospitalized anually. A study done by the University of Kentucky revealed surprising statsitics: Out of 30 patients, 11 (37%) were proffesional riders, 24 (80%) were admitted because of head injuries. 5 patients died, 2 suffered paralysis. 60% had gotten their injuries from falls from the horse. 6 patients (20%), required brain surgery. All deaths and head injuries occured on the 24 patients who were not wearing helmets.

The arguments against wearing a helmet:

Helmets are hot and stuffy, and they make my head sweat. Easy, just buy a vented helmet. Sure, on those 90 degree days your head will be a little hot, but isn't it worth it to know that you are safe?

Helmets aren't cool, I'll look like a dork. There are lots of colorful helmets available, from gold to red to green to blue, and in lots of different styles for western and english riders alike. You can get fun helmet covers, too. And imagine how much of a dork you would feel like if you were paralyzed because of a stupid decision.

The judges won't place me if I wear a helmet instead of a comboy hat or top hat. If the judges don't like helmets, they are stupid and wrong. Just avoid those shows.

Helmets cost a lot of money that I don't have: Sure, helmets do cost a bit of money. But you don't need to pay $500 dollars for a high tech one, any certified by the ASTM will do, as long as it is not used and it shows no wear and all of the straps are in order. If you can afford a horse, you should be able to afford a helmet. And the costs of not riding with one are huge: hospital care for someone with a severe head injury runs about 25,000 a day, which can total to over 3 million in a lifetime, much greater than the cost of a new helmet.

But not just any old helmet will do. No riding in bike helmets. They are better than nothing, however, horseback riding helmets are specifically made to withstand blows from the front, back, top and sides. A bike helmet is made mostly for falling onto concrete, and horse back riding hemets are made to withstand landing on rocks, fences, and barrels, and getting kicked and/or stepped on. Your helmet needs straps, or, even better, a head harness. You should replace your helmet after any fall or every five years, whichever comes sooner. Inspect your helmet every month for basic wear and tear. Make sure the straps or harness are still sturdy, and see if the foam inside is compacted. I discovered a serious issue with my helmet while inspecting it. Because of routine wear and tear, heat, sweat, rain, cold, the adhesive holding the front band of my adjustable helmet had come unglued, meaning that my helmet could easily slip back away from my head if I suffered a fall. I replaced it and got a new vented helmet, which worked perfectly.

So, before you get on that lazy old trail horse without a helmet, or go to that show, think for a minute how much can happen in a split second. You can replace a helmet, but not your head.
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Undesired Humor  
GREAT POST, my mom needs to read this!!! GOOD JOB!
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,073 views
Dark Star  
If i replaced my helmet every time i fall off, i'd go through abot 10 a month. I school all green horses in a helmet and have fallen off almost every time from them spooking or fallind down. but i don't barrel race or pole bend in a helmet, and I havn't gotten hurt yet, actually corection, I get wacked in the head by my horse every time I race, but I've gotten used to Good Article, and you should wear a helmet, I use almost all of those excuses, and eventually I end up not wearing it, but I know someone who fell off there barrel horse and got kicked in the head, he was the calmest horse ever, but he spooked then kicked out, she was in the hospital with a concussion because she wasn't wearing her helmet, but it could've been worse.
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,056 views
Breezing Hill  
Great post for a very controversial topic. If you take a look at Courtney King Dye, she was an Olympic Level Dressage rider who will probably never ride like she used to again. She was schooling a horse at her home, when the horse tripped, and stumbled, she came off and landed on her head. She was in coma for several weeks. She now can talk and walk a little bit, but still doesnt have full control of half of her face or reflexes. No one is above it. If it can happen to a top level rider riding one of her horses it can happen to you.
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,241 views
T E M P E S T  
This is a great article! I fell on my head once, but I was wearing a helmet and I was OK. This might not be true if I had ridden without one.
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,099 views
Good article, i replace my helmet every time i fall on my head or my neck or something. I agree my mum when she was younger sometimes rode with out one but many people did because it wasn't so aware then, i think you should always where a helmet because it is so easy just for your horse to spook and you to land on your skull! good article :)
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,162 views
Very good article, nice to inform riders. I know I always wear my helmet, but articles like this give me a good scare. I will never ride without one! :D
  Nov 28, 2010  •  8,067 views
GREAT ARTICLE!! It is so true. The only thing I disagree with is the replacing a helmet after every fall. If it is a really serious fall and the helmet gets stepped on and cracked I would understand that. But I hardly ever hit my helmet on the ground hard enough to crack or damage it.
  Nov 29, 2010  •  8,060 views
Uphill Climb  
I mostly wear one when ever i ride. The only time i dont is if im in the show ring riding western, only since that is just a few minutes..but i wear one when i jump ALWAYS! I fell once and thank god i had a helmet since i smacked it on a metal pole on the way down, i was fine and really didnt feel it thanks for my helmet
  Nov 30, 2010  •  8,090 views
Great job! I always wear a helmet. I love my Charles Owen - but I'm getting a tipperary. They're so light and vented I love them. :D
  Feb 3, 2011  •  8,069 views
Black Heart Ranch  
This is a wonderful article, and I think that everyone (especially show judges that are judging show attire) should read this and start wearing their helmets! I don't ride anymore, but my mother told me a story about her sister's best friend.

My aunt's best friend was riding in the town parade on her horse (a very calm, loving horse she had owned and ridden for years). The horse spooked for some reason, she fell, hit her head, and died. She was in her early teenage years and was not wearing a helmet. This was over 35 years ago, but the they still remember it.

My friend who does rodeo does not wear a helmet, and she got a big wakeup call when her horse slipped going around a barrel. She fell off, hit her head on the side and back, went into a coma, woke up two days later with a concussion, and had to spend two weeks in the hospital having fluid drained out of her head. Thankfully she recovered fully, but she now wears a custom cowboy-hat-shaped helmet every time she rides.

  Dec 13, 2014  •  5,330 views
Midnight Foal  
Great Post!

When I was a wee beginner I fell of one or the steady old lesson horses during a canter. Completely twisted around in the saddle and banged my head on a fence pole on the way down. I was wearing a fiber glass type helmet, the force of coming down on it completely ripped the strap off and the side of my face had a lump for about 6months after. I would not be here if I hadn't had a helmet.

However a helmet shouldn't be an excuse to be reckless either. I've seen people do such stupid things because they think a helmet will stop them from getting hurt. A helmet only protects your head.

You're only suppose to replace a helmet if its sustained a blow. As my rear is the heaviest part on my body, I tend to land on it, so not too often for me. Hahaha!
  Jan 1, 2015  •  5,238 views
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