Head First ~ Don't Cheap Out on the Helmet
Helmets. This subject will cause debates amongst horse men and women the world over. But there are a few things I know to be true.
Number One: When I ride a horse, I wear a helmet.
Number Two: If you take a lesson with me on a horse, you WILL wear a helmet.
What you do in your private life is your business. I can't tell you what to do. Nor can I start chiming in with opinions about what other professionals do. Sure. There are plenty of equestrian professionals out there who choose to either not wear a helmet, or to wear one depending on the activity, or the horse that they're riding. Those are industry professionals. It's their choice and their brain. But with that in mind, here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.
Your brain is kind of important. You only get one. And there is enough scientific research about traumatic brain injuries and their long term effects on your life to suggest protecting your brain is always a good idea.
A horse is an animal with a brain and sometimes an agenda all its own. Every time we get on a horse, we are taking a step of faith. Faith in our abilities and in our relationship with that animal. But that doesn't mean a solid, non spooking horse can't take a wrong step that lands us on the ground and possibly on our head.
Most equestrian venues require helmets. This is a safety precaution and a rule that is generally required by their insurance policies.
Now, when you're trying to pick a helmet for you or for your child, the options are mind boggling. You can find helmets in almost every color, every style, and every price range. Here are a few tips for choosing one that's right for you.
Don't pick the cheapest. Please. Having a budget is fine, especially when you're first starting out. But don't buy something because it costs less than something else that fits better, or has a better rating. This is your BRAIN were talking about here.
Keep in mind what you're intending to do. If you're really wanting to go into the show ring, but you only have a budget for one riding helmet, you might want to steer clear of the sparkle pink with the bling, bling. Ask your trainer or your Pony Club friends what they would recommend. Show attire tends toward the more conservative color choices.
Fit matters. When trying on a helmet, make sure you're trying it with your hair in the correct position. There are a LOT of debates going on right now about hair up or down. We're even seeing show trends changing on the big circuits as riders take a stand for safety over tradition. If you're not sure about whether or not a helmet fits you correctly, find a sales associate or ask your Pony Club resources or your friendly trainer (me!) for advice.
And if you want more information, this is a link to an article about a recent test on high end helmets done by a Swedish based insurance company. The surprising thing about the results of this study, was that the most expensive and trendy helmets on the market right now didn't even make the top ten. And THIS is a link to an article by Sports Consumer on ratings for some pretty basic riding helmets.
As always, information is your best bet when making any important purchase. Never be afraid to ASK!