First of all, misleading title is misleading. There is no debate wearing a helmet is the smart and safe choice to make each and every time you sit on a horse. Second of all, does knowing that mean that some riders (including myself) will occasionally hop on without a helmet? No. Of course not. Some riders will always take that risk. So why then am I even addressing such a controversial issue? Because I have some seriously mixed feelings about this.
I have no mixed feelings on if wearing helmets is smarter and safer, because it is 110% accurate and proven that wearing a well-fitted helmet is the best thing that you can possibly do to help limit the risk in an already risky sport. The mixed feeling is the fact that some riders over heat quite easily, myself included. Just this summer alone I’ve had MULTIPLE incidents where I’ve almost passed out after dismounting. The contributing factor that sent me through being hot to having my vision go black after my feet hit the ground? My helmet. Twice I had to sit down, still holding my very hot horse, while I tried to just get my vision back so I could go grab my water bottle. Once J was at the barn with me and had to actually take Bella from me to walk her around for a couple of minutes.
So do I ride with a helmet all the time? No. Not if I’m going to be sitting on Bella. Here’s the thing, I’m over 18, even with this blog I wouldn’t consider myself any sort of figure that kids look up to, the farm I’m at only has adults so I’m not riding without a helmet around children, I never jump without a helmet, and on top of all of that I understand that I am taking a huge personal risk every time I do it. This is a personal choice that I make for myself when I’m getting on my horse. I never ride anyone else horse without a helmet, and often times if I’m sitting on an unfamiliar horse with behavioral issues I’ll even throw on my cross-country vest just incase I do happen to come off. Safety IS an issue for me.
Do I think professional riders who children are more likely to look up to should ride with a helmet all of the time? Yep. If they’re going to ride without a helmet I think they should avoid having pictures and videos posted online. If they get hurt riding without a helmet that is their choice. They are old enough and knowledgeable enough to be making that choice for themselves. It’s always tragic and every time it happens the equestrian community is faced with the “mind your melon” phrasing to encourage people to wear helmets. But, that doesn’t change the fact that it is up to each individual adult to make that decision for themselves. Under 18 no one should have the option, and I didn’t ride without a helmet for the first time until I was over 18 so this isn’t a “do as I say not as I do” type of thing. This is me saying that something I did is what I believe to be the right thing.
My family and my boyfriend are all aware that I don’t always ride with a helmet. J doesn’t particularly seem to care, he’s witnessed me ride quite a few times and after sitting on Bella himself he’d probably tell you I make it look relatively easy. My family might not like it (okay they definitely don’t like it) but they do know that I’m an adult and that when it comes to horses, I’m going to make choices for myself and my horse that I feel are appropriate. This means that if I get hurt, I have actively made that decision and that I have no one to blame but myself.
The biggest part of me riding without a helmet is me gauging the risk. If I think Bella’s a little too “up” I put a helmet on regardless of how hot it is. If she’s having a good day then sometimes I don’t. Either way, this is something that I do because I can read her. Accidents still happen, there is no denying that, but I’m an adult and I know the risk and I’ve accepted the consequences of my actions.