When I first started taking lessons at age 10, my mom made me promise to always wear a helmet when I ride and other than one crazy double bareback ‘trail ride’ (breakneck gallop through the woods) at a friend’s house when I was a rebellious teenager I have complied. The few times I’ve forgotten and tried to get on without a helmet on, I felt like I was missing part of my body. It’s like trying to drive without a seat belt on – it just feels wrong! – Jen B., SmartPak Retail Store
We all know falling off is part of the sport; head injuries don’t have to be. As an eventer, I’m very in-tune to taking extra precautions when going cross-country. But, safety is equally as important galloping on course as it is in a flat lesson (or even handling an unpredictable horse on the ground!). I wear a helmet every time I ride, and I always replace my helmet after a fall that has had impact on it. I even throw a helmet on, just in case, when I lunge my thoroughbred who has a tendency to buck, play and kick out when he’s feeling fresh in the winter. – Sara F., Creative
I teach and ride around kids all the time – whether I’m at my own barn or out at a show (where helmets are required anyway!). Even if I’m just riding my horse bareback up from the back field, I throw a helmet on. Not only do I need all my brain cells to keep up with the pace of life at SmartPak, I want to set an example for all the students and young boarders at my barn. I sometimes heard the older kids talking about how nice it would be to have the wind whipping through their hair, or just casually mention that they didn’t plan to wear a helmet after they turned 18. For anyone who’s tried to convince a teenager to do something for their own safety, you know that the methods of persuasion have to be a bit more subtle. In my case, I thank Charles Owen for making my bobble-head skull look awesome in the JR8. All the great styles available in helmets these days means that I can be a walking advertisement for how cool being safe can be. As a result, the debate isn’t whether to wear a helmet, it’s just which one! – Elizabeth R., Customer Care
When I was young, I thought the older girls who rode without helmets were the coolest, and I hated that I had to buckle up every time I wanted to ride. During those same years, I thought the same thing about seatbelts. Being safe was for dorks, and cool kids got to be reckless and fun – right?
Wrong. Much like many of my childhood beliefs about life (being a parent is easy, adults get to do whatever they want all the time, school is torture…) I was way off base. I’m glad my parents raised me to be safe and smart, and to protect my brain – it’s got a lot of important thinking to do! – Sarah P., Marketing
I always wear my helmet for a ride, no matter what! The therapeutic riding stable I use to volunteer at had the typically old reliable draft cross horse that was the level headed therapy, who was literally just walking too fast for his lesson that day. So I just sat on him quick with no helmet. As soon as I sat down he reared then trotted off and proceeded to buck, needless to say I quickly dismounted grabbed a helmet and got back on for a very interesting 10 minute ride. – Elizabeth C., Customer Care