If you’d asked me this even just a year ago, I’d say it depended on what you were doing. Riding an old, safe horse in a schooling ring? Optional. Going out on trail (rocky, long or endurance)? Yes. Jumping or cross country? Absolutely. Dressage? Rider’s choice. Western pleasure? Nope, no need. But, that has since changed – gone back to when I was younger and was sure that helmets were necessary.
One thing solidified my slow acceptance that I needed one. It was my second ever fall off of Amber. And neither of these falls were really bad. The first one, I couldn’t sit her canter bareback at the time and slipped off and hit the ground. She was 2 and a bit shorter then. This last time, there was a very quick start/leap/stop that jarred me and I slipped once again. That time, the ground was much harder, and my left hip was bruised and very sore for nearly 6 weeks. I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. I hadn’t hit my head – but I could have.
But I hesitated a lot to actually make the change to wearing a helmet full time also because I’ve had such issues with heat. My heat stroke was not good, and with me not knowing and not getting to the hospital – I was very lucky it wasn’t much worse. I had an issue with my Troxel helmet and almost had heat exhaustion here even though I’d taken plenty of water and food. I felt such relief when I saw that Ovation schooler helmet – cheap, it came in a light color to help reflect the sun, had tons of air vents, and would do in a pinch.
And it’s been great in the heat. It’s really wonderful getting back into English, because the apparel and tack has come such a long way from what I remember that it’s like going into something unknown, and I like it.
I had a couple other falls, ones that made me determined even when I got made fun of to wear a helmet when breaking the babies. Once they were more broke I’d nix the helmet, but no more. (I also don’t have to ride babies anymore lol) After that fall on Amber, though, I knew I had to always wear a helmet even with her. Helmets keep you as safe as they can, in a sport where nothing is ever guaranteed. And not just eventing sport, but the sport of horseback riding. Whether you’re a leisure trail rider or the world’s best endurance rider, a western pleasure rider or top reining rider, helmets keep you safer. Any horse can trip anywhere at any time, and it can be game over for you. It’s not just subject to “faster” or “more intense’ horse sport. It’s horse sport as a whole, and I think everyone should wear a helmet.