I never did before. I used to think helmets weren't that important. In fact I used to teach that "what kept you alive was in your head, no on your head" Meaning "be smart" so you don't get yourself in bad situations.
Although I still believe that the first part of that statement is true, the second part is false. What's on your head can certainly keep you alive. Remember you are only one fall away from never riding again. A helmet won't prevent you from falling. But if you fall, a helmet might save your life.
I have three horse related concussions. Each one could have been diminished or eliminated with a helmet. Now I always ride with a helmet. The sad part is that it took me three injuries to realize I need it. The really sad part is, that I am often criticized by many high profile natural horseman (people you've probably heard of) who think I'm silly for riding with a helmet. The critics don't bother my ego, they bother my sense of safety for the thousands of riders they influence.
I have a doctor friend (a general surgeon), who told me how many horse related injuries he sees every week in the emergency room. In a town of 50,000 people, there were more horse related injuries than I imagined. I thought maybe motorcycle injuries, car accidents, falling out of tree, would all take first place. But they didn't. Horse related injuries were the most common accident related emergency room procedures. That's in just one small city. Which means that there are multiple horse related accidents world wide every single day!
I think about that often. Either people are riding unsafe horses or practicing unsafe behaviors with their horses. Turns out, the longer I'm in the industry I realize it's both. Just yesterday a horse arrived at my facility for training. This horse has been ridden for some time, but within a hour of assessing his skill level I told the owner I wouldn't ride this horse, not yet anyway, and I'm a professional. Therefore I recommend nobody else rides the horse until he's calmer, smarter, braver, and more attentive to the important things like hand yields, personal space, and he has to learn what to do in high pressure situations.
Once he is better, I'll begin riding him again. But even then, he's still capable of being a "1200 pound ball of fire". When you stop to think about it... Why wouldn't you ride with head protection. It's not uncomfortable. You can't use that excuse anymore. There are many comfortable helmet brands. It's not expensive. You can buy a decent helmet for less than $100.
So what prevents riders from wearing helmets? And worse, what prevents professionals from wearing helmets?
Answer: Pride, laziness, fear of criticism, image. I know a lot of cowboys who just have to wear that hat. I used to "have to wear the hat" too. Now I say, "screw it". If you like my cowboy hat that much, you wear it. I want to be safe. I want you to be safe. And I want you to make progress.
That's one of the reasons I wrote my book. Leadership and Horses. You should buy it. Right now! Click on the link and buy it.
Reading it will change your whole perspective on horses, safety, leadership, progress and more! If you already bought the book, share this article. Help someone else buy the book. Let's make a difference in this world, together!
PS. Just so you know, when you buy the book, you're also supporting Horses for Orphans. A cause that I hope you look into. Just google it, after you've bought the book.
Thanks for reading!
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