In 2010, the equestrian world received a shocking wake-up call about helmet use. Olympic dressage rider Courtney King-Dye sustained a traumatic brain injury when a horse she was schooling slipped and fell. King-Dye remained in a coma for nearly a month, and her recovery continues to this day. In the aftermath of this sobering event, equestrians from all disciplines started to rethink helmet use. The pro-helmet campaign Riders4Helmets and its International Helmet Awareness Day (IHAD) are products of that equestrian safety renaissance.
The landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. Once exceedingly rare in upper-level dressage, helmets are now seen across the levels, even at the Olympic level. Riding helmets are creeping into traditional western disciplines like barrel racing. Even a couple of saddle seat riders at the American Saddlebred World Championships traded in their derbies for helmets in recent years. In fact, the whole idea of a helmet awareness campaign seems almost outdated. What rider in 2014 is not aware of the benefits of wearing a helmet?
But in spite of the sea change in attitudes about helmets in all disciplines, there are still plenty of riders who aren’t interested in wearing safety gear when they saddle up. IHAD events serve to dispel myths about helmets and provide the latest information about helmet technology, equestrian head injuries, and more. By reinforcing the positive aspects of helmet use, IHAD helps to ensure that the horse community continues to make progress in rider safety and the post-2010 surge in helmet use doesn’t fade away as a one-time trend.
So what’s happening on this Helmet Awareness Day?
- Participating manufacturers and retailers are offering discounts on ASTM/SEI certified helmets. With models ranging from the affordable schooling hats to the pricier show helmets, there’s something for everyone, and today is the day to get it. Find a local shop at Riders4Helmets.com/IHAD
- Tack shops around the world will be educating customers on proper fit and care for helmets. Most good tack shops will be able to do this for you any day, but why not take advantage of the day and the discounts and have a professional help you find the right helmet for your head?
- Riders4Helmets will be hosting a series of webinars at its website, Riders4Helmets.com. Experts on traumatic brain injury/concussion, helmet manufacturer representatives, head injury survivors and top equestrians will be answering questions from viewers who participate in the webinars in real time. Visit Riders4Helmets.com to attend the webinars or find out more.