Thursday, May 23, 2013


When I was 19 year old a good family friend was killed on a horse. She was at a cutting and her horse started getting naughty in he arena.  He bucked her off and her foot became stuck in the stirrup.  Everyone ran to help and and catch the out of control horse.  He was running around the arena spooked by the riding attacked to his side.  Someone opened a gate to run in to help her and didn't think to close it.  Her horse ran out the gate continuing to drag her by her foot.  He ran through the gravel parking lot at a frantic speed.  He eventually bucked enough to get her foot free.  When people were finally able to get to her she was already gone.  The impact on her head caused her to die on impact. 
I had always been a fearless rider up until this point.  It really made me realize how unpredictable horses can really be.  This event made a large impact on my life.  I miss her dearly even though its been almost 20 years. 
When Maddie started riding there was no question as to whether she would ride with a helmet or not.  If I started her young it would just become part of her tacking up routine and it is.  Its always brush her horse, put pads on, put saddle on, helmet on and then bridle. 
In 4-H it is a requirement for all riders to have a helmet on, but in breed shows it is optional.  I think we will begin to see this change for the younger riders in the next few years.  Even in English they only wear a cover and not a full helmet. 
I started doing some research in helmets and the benefits of wearing one.  Here's a few points a found in addition to some references for you to read yourself.

"Equestrian Helmet Facts

  1. Between 12 to 15 million persons in the United States ride a horse or pony every year.
  2. Approximately 20 percent of horse-related injuries occur on the ground and not riding.
  3. Most riding injuries occur during pleasure riding.
  4. The most common reason among riders for admission to hospital and death are head injuries.
  5. A fall from two feet can cause permanent brain damage. A horse elevates a rider eight feet or more above ground.
  6. A human skull can be shattered by an impact of 4-6 mph. Horses can gallop at 40 mph.
  7. According to the National Electronic Surveillance System figures the most likely ages for injury is at 5-14,
  8. and 25-44 years with each decade having about 20 percent of the injuries.
  9. A rider who has one head injury has a 40 percent chance of suffering a second head injury. Children, teens and young adults are most vulnerable to sudden death from second impact syndrome: severe brain swelling as a result of suffering a second head injury before recovery from the first head injury.
  10. Death is not the only serious outcome of unprotected head injuries. Those who survive with brain injury may suffer epilepsy, intellectual and memory impairment, and personality changes.
  11. Hospital costs for an acute head injury can be in the range of $25,000 per day. Lifetime extended care costs may easily exceed $3 million. There is no funding for rehabilitation outside the medical setting.
  12. Helmets work. Most deaths from head injury can be prevented by wearing ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials), SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) approved helmets that fit correctly and have the harness firmly applied. Other types of helmets, including bike helmets, are inadequate.
  13. Racing organizations require helmets and as a result jockeys now suffer fewer head injuries than pleasure riders. The US Pony Club lowered their head injury rate 29 percent with mandatory helmet use. Britain's hospital admission rate for equestrians fell 46 percent after helmet design improved and they came into routine use.
  14. The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association through the Committee on Sports Medicine, Canadian Medical Association, and the American Medical Equestrian Association/Safe Riders Foundation recommend that approved, fitted and secured helmets be worn on all rides by all horseback riders. "
Source: Equestrian Medical Safety Association

Here's a great article about the arguments around not wearing a safety helmet.

Here's an articlr about concussions.

When  I sent an email to Troxel about my upcoming post they generously sent a Victory helmet for Maddie.  She loves it.  Other english helmets she has worn were either to big or not very comfortable.  The Victory is adjustable so she has a perfect fit no matter what style her hair is in or if she grows.  The Vicotry helmet to very pretty and made of fine quality materials. Because of it being so light fit she will be able to wear it for her riding events as well as  english showmanship. 
This is the third Troxel helmet we have owned and have always been pleased with the feel of them.  Troxel makes helmets to fit a young child to an adult.  Check out their website at:

**A special thank you to Troxel!


  1. I never wore a helmet as a youth, and never wore one while I worked for the Cattlemen's Association in Colorado assisting to manage 3500 units on open range. Now, at 57 years of age, I have had to admit that I do not heal like I used to. Wearing a helmet is a personal choice that I respect. My choice has become to always wear one. If anyone rides one of my horses, I insist that they wear one also.

  2. If you need motivation to wear a helmet I encourage you to get on YouTube and look up Courtney King Dye. I figure if an Olympic rider can get a traumatic brain injury at a walk, I am definitely at risk. Strap one on - every ride every time. I have a Tipperary helmet (2 actually) and wear them while trail riding, extreme cowboy racing and in obstacle challenges.

  3. I too never wore a helmet as a youth and I came off my horse plenty. It wasn't until after having my own children that I realized how easily I could break and how my confidence in riding was not as it had been when I was a fearless child. Our family has a rule now, NO helmet,NO horse...plain and simple you will not ride without one.

    I have heard it all, from are you retarded to you must be handicapped now.. I was surprised at some of the backlash that I received from the backlash of the western riding community, but I looked at those people that insist on making rude comments and tell them that I love my "brain bucket" and it keeps my brain happy and safe and that is all that matters to me!

  4. I am a convert when it comes to helmets. I never wore them when riding growing up, they weren't comfortable. I started wearing them about 2 years ago, when I started riding again at a friend's place. I figured "new places, different horses, I'm not 16 anymore.. What could it hurt?" It became habit, and I bought my own a couple months later. A month ago, my helmet saved me from a major brain injury. The horse I was riding spooked and started bucking. She launched me about 15 feet in the air and I flew about 20 feet before hitting the ground-head first. At the last second, I tucked and rolled, my head took a glancing blow, my shoulder took the brunt of it. My feet hit the ground above my head before I flopped straight laying on my back. The helmet cracked, and the Styrofoam has a flower compression on it where my head and the ground came together. My forehead was bruised.. Shoulder was really sore... My worst injury: broken elbow. I had no concussion.. my head didn't hurt at all.. just my shoulder and arm.. Had I not been wearing that helmet.. I wouldn't have walked away.. at minimum I would've had a concussion. I will NEVER ride without a helmet again. I really like the Tipperary Sportage. They're lightweight, they feel like you're wearing a baseball cap, and they're great in the Texas heat. My new one is a Troxel Liberty. It is very similar to the Tipperary. Just cooler colors.

  5. I suffered a traumatic head injury when I was 17 years old, while riding a horse. I was riding out in the pasture and my horse and I were on a leisurely lope, nice and easy. He was (and still is) a very trusty steed with no spook. But things happen, even on the most reliable horses.

    My accident had nothing to do with my horse's attitude or training that day. It was my equipment... I didn't have the money at the time for my own saddle, so I had to borrow from my barn manager. Her saddle was older. The billet strap snapped. I fell and hit my head twice; once on the fence to my left and again on a rock beneath me.

    I was out cold, but luckily I had a friend with me. Unfortunately her horse spooked and took off with her, but while she was tied up with calming her horse down my horse grabbed me by my belt and tried to drag me back to the barn.

    I don't remember anything. When my mom came to pick me up, I didn't know who she was and I asked her to whom my horse belonged. She took me to the ER and I had a severe concussion... I have vision issues and memory problems. I get concussions from shaking my head to hard sometimes.

    The only fortunate thing about the accident was that I had a helmet on. I would have had brain damage, if not worse, had I not had one on. Now I make sure all my leather tack is new, and if possible reinforced with nylon so that it doesn't snap. I also wear a helmet often - but not always. I wear a helmet for 4-H, schooling and zone shows. For breed, I wear an actual helmet and not just a hunt cap for English. I do ride in a hat for Western, though.

    It might make you look dumb, but it's better to look dumb than actually become dumb from a head injury!

    Thank you for this post.

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