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Should You Wear A Helmet All the Time
 By Winniefield Park   •   28th Nov 2017   •   887 views   •   0 comments
A recent study suggests that only 7% of us wear our helmets while grooming our horses. There doesn't seem to be any statistics about how many of wear our helmets while handling horses from the ground at other times, such as feeding and turning out. But, should we have our helmets on when we are out of the saddle as well as in it? There may be some good arguments for wearing a helmet anytime you are near a horse.



If it seems excessive to suggest that wearing a helmet all the time is a safe idea, you need only look at the statistics. Horseback riding itself is cited to be the number one cause of sports-related traumatic brain injuries. Head injuries are most likely from a fall, but they can also happen at any point when we are near a horse.

So, what can a helmet protect us from when we are working with our horses? The most common, “on the ground” injury is a kick. Can you be kicked in the head. Of course, as a horse is going to hit any part of a person’s body that is in the way. One of the most vulnerable positions to be in is behind a rear load horse trailer, just before the doors are closed. But these types of accidents can happen while the horse is being groomed or having farrier work, during veterinary treatments, during breedings, and during every day grooming.

Many people, like veterinarians, vet assistants and even farriers will be resistant to the idea of wearing a helmet while working with horses. You can certainly see why a farrier would not want to wear a helmet while bent over and hot-shoeing a horse on a warm day. But, who is more likely to be kicked or knocked down than a farrier? Vets and their staff too face the same type of hazards.

Professionals like vets and farriers knowingly put themselves in vulnerable situations, but do the rest of us face less risk? Probably not. Many accidents that include head injuries happen while doing something as simple as leading a horse from stable to paddock. Horses spook or play up while being led. Getting knocked over, pushed into something or being hit by a hoof or head is not uncommon. Accidents happen while grooming, lunging and just hanging over the fence or stall door.

In one unfortunate accident, a rider was kicked in the head as she walked behind her horse to hand her helmet, which she had just removed, to another rider. These types of accidents can happen to anyone. Amy Dundas, a Canadian Equestrian team hopefull was killed when a stallion she was handling kicked her in the head and killed her.

Many people don’t wear a helmet when they are driving their horse. Driving can be as hazardous as riding. There are many accidents that involve being run over by a horse hitched to a vehicle, or getting tossed out of a vehicle. Many driving competitions require participants to wear a helmet while they are driving. But, the backyard driving enthusiast might overlook using a helmet because they feel safer behind, rather than on top of the horse.

Non-riding helmet use is catching on with some workers in the horse industry. Some racetracks now require those working in the starting gates to wear helmets. The Think ahead: Safety First is a program is promoting using helmets during non-riding horse activities and hopes that the resistance to wearing helmets while handling can be overcome.

Like riding with a helmet won’t protect you from every injury, and may not even protect you from a fatal head injury, it may lessen the risk. Our heads are vulnerable, and our bodies don’t work well without them. It might be worth considering wearing a helmet all the time. What do you think?
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