We Heart Our Helmets

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jenBWhen 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


saraFWe 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


elizabethRI 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


sarahPWhen 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


elizabethCI 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


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3 comments on “We Heart Our Helmets
  1. Peggy Z. says:

    Many western trail riders don’t or won’t wear a helmet. I wear a helmet for my family as much as myself. They are the ones that will be taking care of me if I end up with a brain injury. I’ve seen too many freak accidents over the years, to not wear a helmet. Just last summer I was walking along a very nice flat wide trail on a very seasoned, broke horse. Out of no where, she stumbled and we neither one had a chance. I landed on the back of my head. Luckily the helmet saved my life. I’m 100% positive that I would’ve had a serious head injury without it. Never ride without it!!!

  2. Andrea says:

    As a young western pleasure rider I wanted ti try something new. So we loaded up my horse and tack and went off to a barrel clinic. I had raced barrels and smaller level shows and kicked butt, but I wanted to “do it right”. All went well but when it came time to for me to do my first race my horse took off!! We were both having the time of our lives. We went around the last barrel at top speed I checked in with her by pulling back the reins and she flicked her ears back as if to say I’m here mom lets go.” And thats what we did we crossed the line. Then she did a uncalled for flying lead change and took off to the left. During all if this I ended up under my horse and had landed and banged my head. Keep in mind that this was one of my first rides back after I had a nasty concussion. I am so greatful that I had my helmet on my head. (It was early spring when I took my fall and the ground was still frozen under the nice looking arena sand.)

  3. Marianne Sobchak says:

    I can add my name to the list of folks who had their lives saved by their helmet. The horse I was galloping cross country had a heart attacked and died. He fell on me – broken arm and nerve damage. While I was in the hospital my mother saw my helmet and started crying. The velvet was completely torn off the side of the helmet and there were dents, scrapes and gouges in the metal. The hospital staff had paid no attention to my helmet. The minute the doctor saw the helmet’s condition, I was back in x-ray to check for concussion. I did not have one and the doctor was amazed at that fact. My mother need drugs to calm her down. It was a long road back to the saddle with my mother wanting me to quit riding – but that is another story.

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Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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