Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Any organization sponsoring an endurance ride, trail ride, show, etc should be free to set the rules they believe make sense. And if someone doesn't like those rules, they don't have to compete in the event.
From the statistics I've seen, wearing a helmet reduces one's risk of head injury by around 50% in a fall. There are so many variables in the real world that precise numbers aren't possible.
A jumping competition has greater risk WITH helmet use than most other events do without them. That is because jumping competitions have a much higher rate of falls - anywhere from 5-80 times.
However, it remains up to each rider , family and event organizer to decide how much risk they are willing to accept, and how they reduce the risk. I can easily see how an endurance race organizer would require helmets. They just don't want to accept liability or take a chance in court if someone gets hit in the head with a branch, or takes a tumble on a rocky trail.
Equine liability laws are not absolute. Every one I've read so far has exceptions for accidents caused by not following normal safety practices. In my home state of Arizona, the law includes:
"B. Subsection A does not apply to an equine owner or agent of the equine owner who is grossly negligent or commits wilful, wanton or intentional acts or omissions."
"D. Subsection C does not apply to an owner, lessor or agent of any riding stable, rodeo ground, training or boarding stable or other private property that is used by a rider or handler of an equine if either of the following applies:
1. The owner, lessor or agent knows or should know that a hazardous condition exists and the owner, lessor or agent fails to disclose the hazardous condition to a rider or handler of an equine.
2. The owner, lessor or agent is grossly negligent or commits wilful, wanton or intentional acts or omissions."
Those are loopholes a lawyer can drive a truck thru.
I sometimes wear a cowboy hat instead of a helmet. Why? Because the sun is so intense in southern Arizona that I sometimes feel a wide brim improves my vision enough that it makes me safer than I would be half-blind in my helmet.
But I do understand why some event organizers make helmets mandatory. Even if they won in court, their bills could still put them out of business.
"People can teach us the rules, but only horses can teach us the art of riding."