Horses are living beings that can behave unpredictably at any given moment, which is why it's always a good idea to wear protective clothing that reduce the risk of serious injury. Predictably, though, many riders are resistant to the idea of wearing a helmet and give a variety of reasons for avoiding doing so. Here are the top three reasons people give and why you should rethink your position if you've made one of these excuses.
They're Excellent Riders
It's understandable that people who have a lot of experience riding and being around horses would feel confident in their ability to handle any type of situation they would encounter on rides. However, your many years of experience won't always protect you from getting into a terrible accident. All it takes is one misstep or moment of inattention for things to go very wrong.
One study conducted in Alberta, Canada, found the average patient admitted for injuries sustained in equestrian activities was 47 years old and had 27 years experience riding horses. The majority of people hurt had been thrown from the horse, while others were kicked or had the animal fall on them.
It's great knowing what to do to avoid issues while riding. However, falls and tumbles can happen in a split second, and you may not have enough time to react the way you need to avoid getting hurt. It's better to minimize the risk of a traumatic head injury by wearing a helmet than take your chances and hope your experience kicks in at the right time.
Helmets are Ugly and Uncomfortable
A common thing people say about riding helmets is that they're uncomfortable, unattractive, messes up their hair, and may even cost them points in riding competitions. Some of these complaints are reasonable, while others are questionable, but almost all of them can be overcome.
If the helmet you're wearing is causing you discomfort (e.g. headaches), for instance, that's a sign it's probably not a good fit for your head. The solution here is to have your head measured and shop around for the right sized helmet for you. Likewise, helmets come in different styles and you can even have one custom-made, so you can simply search for one that fits your sense of fashion.
Unfortunately, there are some competitions that do penalize participants when they wear helmets during their performances. The judges who do this typically excuse it as the helmet not fitting a particular tradition or speaking to the rider's insecurity in their abilities. Other than stepping up your performance in other areas to overcome this bias, there's isn't much you can do. At the end of the day, preventing a traumatic brain injury is much more important than trying to conform to an outdated tradition.
They're Willing to Take the Risk
Some people feel they should be allowed to take the risk. After all, it's their body; thus, they should be allowed to decide whether they'll wear a helmet or not. This is very true. Unlike a seatbelt—which, among other things, keeps you strapped in the vehicle to avoid becoming a human projectile—helmets won't protect other people if you get thrown from a horse. Generally, though, you would be the only person to suffer the consequences of a head injury.
However, it's important you fully understand how dangerous going without a helmet can be. According to a study found in the journal Neurological Focus, horseback riding causes the most traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) than any other sport. Head injuries can lead to a variety of problems including chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, paralysis, and other long-term disabilities that can affect your ability to ride. Therefore, consider wearing a helmet as a sort of investment in your future health and career.
For more information about helmets or help choosing the best one for you, check out a store like Kastel Denmark that caters to horseback riders.