You Tell Us: Helmets


When I started riding at age 11, (I’m 52 now), I did not wear a helmet. I stopped riding to go to college. After 20 years, I started training a horse for a friend and never gave helmets a thought. As it turned out, the horse tossed me off.

My head injuries were very serious … some things will never be right again. Now, every time I mount up I have a helmet on my head. Anyone riding on our property must wear a helmet.  So many parents let their children ride without protection; it’s scary how quickly an accident can happen. Gail Phares, Ohio 

On the April 26, 2005, I had a riding accident that changed my life. Luckily I was wearing a helmet.

I had taken a trail ride on a Thoroughbred named Arion; I was planning on buying her. She was awesome in the ring, but I soon found out how she was on the trails. She reared the entire way out to the trail, but once I got her there she was fine. On the way back, she repeatedly reared again. I was so used to naughty horses; I didn’t take it as much of a threat. When we were about 25 feet from the barn, Arion had enough. She stopped and sprung all her weight up and back. She crushed me between her body and the ground.

I spent a month in ICU with two fractured thoracic vertabrae, fractured ribs, a deflated lung and a ruptured spleen. I am able to walk and ride, but I still have spine problems. If I wasn’t wearing a helmet, it would have been another reason for me not to be alive. I still wonder if wearing a safety vest would have saved my spleen, ribs and lungs. My doctors and surgeons said I shouldn’t have lived through that accident; I should have bled out internally. One thing that I will always remember is safety first! Wear a helmet, it’s horse sense!  Chellsey Camasso, New Hampshire

I always wear a helmet and always will! Why? Because they have saved my life. About four years ago I was riding a young horse out on a trail ride, something spooked the horse and I got ejected–straight into a tree. I put a 4-inch long crack in my helmet. I also got a concussion, split my collar bone into three separate pieces, dislocated my shoulder and tore a bunch of tendons and ligaments. If I was not wearing a helmet, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now. I truly believe there is no reason not to wear approved headgear. With all the helmet designs available, there is something for everyone. Also, as someone who has done some instruction, it only sends positive messages to wear helmets. If children see adults and their instructors riding without helmets, how can we tell them they must? I have no respect for those who think they do not need helmets, especially around kids. Be safe, wear a helmet and set an example. You never know what might happen! Kaitlyn, Internet

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  1. A few years ago I introduced my daughter to the sport I love, hunter pacing. She rode my old experienced quarter horse. While traveling downhill through a gravel bank with footing similar to walking on marbles, they had a terrible fall. My daughter broke her tail bone, sustained some damage to her ankle when my horse stepped on her, but most importantly split her helmet in three places where her head impacted the ground. A trip to the emergency room proved no permanent damage was done. I used that broken helmet for years to teach a safety course to our 4-H club. Most kids think injuries are for the other person, wearing a helmet isn’t cool, and besides “they won’t get hurt”. With that helmet I showed them that serious accidents can happen even at a walk on a bombproof horse.

  2. Darn right we wear helmets! When I started riding mules after a 20-year equestrian hiatus, my husband and I started wearing helmets to set a good example for our three daughters. A couple of years ago, my extended family had a reunion at a guest ranch in Montana; adult riders could forego a helmet if they signed a waiver. Several of my relatives had gotten western hats just for the trip and wanted to wear those despite our advice as the only horse/mule owners in the group. At the last minute, one of my sisters-in-law opted for her helmet. Going up a hill, she got nervous, her horse started jigging around and the two of them went down, my sister-in-law’s head striking the rocky ground with enough force that she still suffered a mild concussion. Had she not been wearing it, the result would have been tragic. The guest ranch took her cracked helmet and set it atop the waiver clipboard for the rest of the season. Two weeks after that, I went off my own mount at home resulting in six busted ribs, a collapsed lung and a broken collarbone but no concussion or head injuries. I won’t get on the back of anything, horse or mule, without my helmet.

  3. I am 14 and have never even consider riding without a helmet. Most of my friends look down on me for wearing one, especially becuase I ride western. I have already completely destroyed one helmet in an accident that normally kills people. My horse reared and fell back on me. I was lucky, I only could not do sit-up for a week. I am still terrified of rearing horses (on ground and in saddle) but it reinforced helmets for me. I thought at the time my horse was safe for anybody to ride but that fall and other things have changed my mind. Nobody gets on her now without a helmet. I refuse to ride without one now and anybody else should too. Never say never becuse tomorrow it might come true!

  4. I ride western and english and in training or when i just work my horse i never ride with a helmet. I figure the trust i have with my horse is srtong and if he acts up or throws me up its my fault so i deserved it. Now when i train other peoples horse that i do not know and have a bad reputation i will reconsider but whenever i ride, i never plan on falling off!

  5. I spent all of my life riding without a helmet until this last fall. I was out on the trail on a young horse in a big group of riders. I was talking and not paying attention my horse who was only 3 got spooked and the next thing I remeber was standing up walking in circles and seeing 2 of everyone. I did not want to seem weak so I did finsih the ride another 2 hours. I then loaded up and drove home. I am a nurse and admit should know better. I had a head injury that I am very lucky to not have residual issuses from. I now wear a helmet all of the time and anyone on my property does. I always wore one while riding my motorcycle that made sense but not with the horses. Well I can say I was very wrong.


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