Today is Brain Injury Awareness Day. As equestrians, for many of us, putting on a helmet to ride is a matter of course. Some of us also don a helmet for groundwork, or when working with unpredictable or young horses. Though many of us own horses that are generally quiet, there is still an inherent risk to working with horses.
Just the other day, one of my friends was about to mount another boarder’s elderly, retired gelding who we’ve literally never seen spook. He didn’t take a liking to her father watching from the viewing room (even though he’s seen him in there literally billions of times). He grew another hand and became a fire breathing dragon. Surprise!
My own mare enjoys pushing the ejector seat button during the month of February, as we’re based in Illinois and sometimes the weather is downright terrible – leading naturally to reduced turnout. I’ve also personally had a few concussions overtime – and thank goodness I was wearing a helmet, as things could have turned out much worse.
Here’s a rundown of my concussions, and the helmets that saved my melon. Click on each photo for more information about each model. Do bear in mind that a more expensive helmet, as long as it’s ASTM/SEI certified, offers the same protection as a less expensive helmet. You can’t beat some of the styles that are available now, though – I love a nice, matte finish!
1998: My lesson horse spooked at the air, bolted, and I fell on my head.
2012: My horse spooked at nothing (at the walk, of all gaits). I wasn’t paying attention, and tipped over his shoulder. My foot got caught in the stirrup, he took off, and I got dragged. I broke my humerus and bounced on my head.
2015: My horse and I had a rotational fall on cross country at a down bank (he put his head between his legs and somersaulted).
2018: I was riding a pony. He tripped at the canter and went down on his knees. I fell directly on my head.
2018: In the warm up ring at a show, my mare had a freak accident, tripped, and fell. I tore my PCL and bounced on my head.
2019: My mare decided to swat a fly with her hind foot while I was picking out feet, and I got kicked in the head.
Helmet manufacturers recommend that your helmet be replaced each time your head receives a blow. When you purchase a helmet, be sure to double check the manufacturer policy. Often, you can receive a replacement helmet at a reduced cost, or even repair services if you have a fall. Helmets can be pricey, but they’re well worth saving your brain. These helmets absolutely saved mine.
#mindyourmelon and Go Jumping!