Saturday, June 9, 2012

Do you like your brain?

If so, wear your helmet.

June 9th is International Helmet Awareness Day, promoted by The idea is to spread the word about helmet safety and promote always wearing a helmet. Additionally, many tack stores and helmet companies are offering discounts on helmets during this day.

Unfortunately, this day is forcing me to confront my own stupidity. While I wear a helmet every time I take a lesson from Laurie or ride Hemie, I haven't been using a helmet when I ride my other mount, Miss Paint, up in Santa Barbara. I ride her bareback, in a halter, alternately out on the trail (150 acres of mountain pasture) or in the arena where, yes, we do jump.

The trails are on uneven terrain, riddled with holes and drain channels, with spook-worthy wildlife including deer, coyotes, snakes, cows (okay, those are technically livestock/domestic, not wild), etc. She could trip or spook at any moment. The arena is dragged once every comet-passing, so the footing is horrible and very trip-worthy too. Plus I'm jumping and doing all the trail class obstacles. Bareback. In jeans. In a halter.

Stupidity in action. But a nice sunset.
Now that I've spelled it out, it looks like I'm practically asking for brain damage here. It's kind of embarrassing, really. Any marginal counter-argument about how I've only fallen off her once and landed on my feet, or that she's as comfy as a couch, are all bogus. I like my brain. I really need to helmet up.

One question I still have about helmets, though, has to do with the falling-off-so-replace-it rules. I've fallen off while wearing my helmet, but I've never landed on my head, nor even bounced my head hard. I normally land on my feet or on my back (God bless impact vests). But I'm sure my head must touch the ground at some point when I land on my back, right? Does that mean I need to replace the helmet?  For now I've decided to keep a helmet unless I've bounced my head hard or landed on my head. Thoughts? What do you do?

Let me leave you with this funny skit from Jerry Seinfeld. Most horse people will agree that riding has enough benefits to outweigh the risks. But not all "regular people" get that. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. If your helmet is dropped from more than 3 feet, you need to replace it. If your head hits the ground in it, you need to replace it. The way modern helmets are designed is to spread the impact by shattering internally so that no one part of your head receives the trauma.

    Thus, if it's hit the ground, it's probably already shattered and will not protect your head in a second fall.

    My trainer is on the USEA safety committee. What can I say? We're picky about helmets.