I had an interesting experience this weekend while judging a show in the Midwest. A young lady I’d already seen a couple of times that weekend was riding a First Level test on a Quarter Horse. The horse had appeared very steady and reliable, but in the middle of the canter lengthening in this last test he suddenly put on a rodeo display that would have launched any experienced rider.
The child hit the ground hard but got up fairly quickly. The EMT was right there, however, and made her stay put. He also took her helmet away from her while he checked her over and then walked out of the ring with her.
I thought for a moment where I had seen that helmet maneuver before and realized it was while watching football on TV. Players aren’t allowed on a football field without a secured helmet, and if there is a suspected injury of any kind to a player, team officials will take his helmet away. No matter how eager the player may be, he thus can’t go back on the field until fully evaluated.
I have never noticed a helmet appropriated by an EMT at a show before. (Actually I haven’t seen many falls at shows in the last few years, and I hope this doesn’t start a trend.) Maybe this is now a procedure that is generally accepted, but our TD hadn’t heard about it. Seems like a good idea, though, because it also prevents the rider from remounting in the warmup area until she is fully checked out.
Of course there are a lot of differences between football and riding helmets. A football helmet is fitted specifically for that player and also carries his number. If that helmet is taken away and secured in an equipment locker, he’s very effectively grounded. (If there is a potential injury to the head or neck, the helmet may be left in place until removed in a hospital emergency room.) I suppose an over-eager rider who wants to remount could always borrow another helmet. But if a family member, trainer or friend wants to emphasize to a rider who just fell that they should stay on the ground, taking control of her helmet could get the point across.