Editor’s Note: Stable Advice is a place for our readers to offer their advice on some of those uniquely equestrian problems. These aren’t the questions that you’d normally ask your vet or trainer. These are questions about horse life, like dealing with interpersonal struggles at the barn, juggling horse commitments and “real world” obligations, and generally navigating the challenges of living in the 21st-century horse world. Think of this as a place to share advice with a group of your best equestrian friends.
I grew up riding at English-oriented lesson barns, and so I’ve always worn a helmet. Currently, I have a very safe horse and I mostly trail ride, but I still put on a helmet every time I put a foot in the stirrup. My best friend and I board at the same stable and we often ride together, and she never wears a helmet. She rides English now, but grew up riding western and doing speed events. I asked her once why she doesn’t wear a helmet and she sort of shrugged it off, saying she didn’t feel like it was necessary unless she’s showing in a class where helmets are required.
She gallops and jumps and even gets on green horses with a baseball cap on her head, and I worry about her. I’ve seen what can happen when even a good rider on a well-trained horse is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not wearing a helmet just isn’t worth the risk. Our boarding barn doesn’t have any enforced rules about helmets. How can I explain to her why I think she should wear a helmet—at least during high-risk activities like jumping—without sounding like a nag? Or should I just butt out?