No rider expects to have the kind of fall from her horse that will change her life forever. Though every ride has the inherent potential for an accident, certain safety measures, like wearing a helmet, can help you focus more on enjoying the sport, rather than dwelling on the associated risks. Much like when you wear a seatbelt in the car, wearing a helmet won’t prevent the unforeseeable from happening. However, it is a defense against injury and in protecting a rider’s head, a helmet protects her future. Helmets matter for all athletes in sports where the risk of head injuries is high, and equestrian disciplines are no exception. Regardless of how skilled a horse or rider are or how close a partnership they have cultivated, mistakes can happen in the blink of an eye and for any number of reasons. Here are five reasons we believe wearing helmets is important:
1. Riding without a helmet puts you at risk for a more severe injury that could lead to permanent disability and/or expensive treatment and rehabilitation.
2. A 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 11.7 percent of all traumatic brain injuries in recreational sports from 2001–2005 were riding-related. This was the highest of any athletic activity.
3. Helmets have evolved a lot over the years and are more comfortable than ever. A correctly-fitted helmet will not cause headaches or overheating; instead, today’s helmets are lightweight and should mold to the rider’s head.
4. Helmets come in such a wide variety of models, colors and styles that can coordinate with both schooling and competition attire, completing a traditional look or allowing riders to showcase their individual tastes.
5. Wearing a helmet can also inspire other riders of all ages and skill levels to wear one as well, keeping them safer in the saddle.
Dressage Today thanks the experts at Charles Owen for providing the safety information included in this column. For more information, visit charlesowen.com.