Reading a post at Equine Ink, Lessons Remembered: always wear your helmet, made me want to add my two cents on the obligation we all have to protect our noggins. (Although my last post makes it questionable that I have a noggin worth protecting.)
I owe it to my kids and my wife, to the owners of the horses I ride, my trainers, and myself to wear that helmet.
Perhaps you don’t feel that way. It’s your life, and if you are injured or die because you rode without a helmet, so be it. It’s a free country.
You are forgetting a very important fact: we are all connected.
Like it or not, our lives are not all about us.
Someone will witness the accident. Someone will frantically call 911. Someone will check your breathing. Someone will try to stop the bleeding. Someone may have to pin you down to keep you from moving. Someone will be terrified they will do the wrong thing. Someone may DO the wrong thing…and have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
No one will be there. No one will see it. No one will hold you and tell you that you are loved while you are dying. And the people who love you…they will be the no ones who were not there. Who didn’t know. Who have to live with the fact that you died alone…that maybe…had they been there, if they had been on time, not stopped at Starbucks, you’d be alive today.
What if you don’t die? I spent a good chunk of my life working in conjunction with adults with various disabilities. I’ve seen a lot of people with brain injuries. It’s not pretty. Disability is not something you can get all noble about and just get over so you can be an inspiration to the rest of the world.
One particular horse-related brain injury stands out: a man in his 30’s : he didn’t wear a helmet while riding the fence line on his own land; he was just moseying along on one of his retired cow horses. He never wore one anyway.
Now he has the perfect indentation of a horse shoe in his skull, where it crushed that side of his head. There’s no bone there. Just skin over the hole. He will be at risk of dying if he trips on a crack in the sidewalk. Now he has to wear a helmet all day every day.
He doesn’t remember what happened. Because of the brain injury, he doesn’t remember much of anything. Including his wife and kids, who left him. The part of his brain that was injured handles impulse control, and this mild, kind, good man turned into someone who terrorized his wife and children with a kitchen knife.
So talk to me. Why don’t you want to wear a helmet again?
Because you didn’t want a bad hair day? Because it’s hot? Because you’re a great rider and won’t ever hit the dirt? Because your horse is safe? Because none of the top level riders wear one and you want to look good? Because if it happens, it’s just ‘your time’ to go? Because of the peer pressure in your discipline…say team penning…you’d be the laughing stock of the circuit? Only sissies and bad riders wear helmets?
I saw two bull riders on ESPN awhile back. The only two cowboys I ‘ve ever seen wearing helmets. If you ask me, those are the brave guys. Who cares what the other dudes think? They care enough about the people around them to protect themselves and others.
I challenge the dressage world to be as brave as those bull riders. Why oh why are top level riders even allowed to enter the arena in top hats?
Are we trying to prove our horses are SO submissive, willing, and elastic that they would *never* melt down? The most bomb proof horse has the capability to go nuclear.
Or simply trip.
Buy a rated helmet. Wear it. Have some compassion for the people who would have to pick up the pieces, even if you can’t have it for yourself.
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