I think I see some life in the horse! Seriously, though, one cannot say that they can predict ahead of time when a helmet will be necessary and when it will not. You can say, well he's not green and I'm only trail riding, but that still does not gaurantee anything. For me, I don't want to go through all the mental machinations to try and calculate the level of my risk when I step aboard. I find that if I just put the helmet on, then I need not spend mental energy doing this "should I or shouldn't I?". Just do it and go on. Also, I see no real reason for NOT wearing a helmet.
It absolutely does NOT give me a false sense of security. I dont' ride any more carelessly than I would without one. In fact, I hardly know it is there.
To say that most western riders don't fall head first is something I could not agree with. Even if it were true, falling backward presents the opportunity to roll back and whack your head, in a whiplash type movement, that could be very hard on a human skull.
Well, everyone has their opinions. Mine may be a disagree ment to many of you but, to me, no one can predict the future so, how would you know if the horse will/wont spook or take off. Or if you loose your balance etc. Helmets may not keep you 100% safe but it does take a lot of pain out of falling. For me, the helmet gives me security. That's just me.
...To say that most western riders don't fall head first is something I could not agree with. Even if it were true, falling backward presents the opportunity to roll back and whack your head, in a whiplash type movement, that could be very hard on a human skull.
It probably is true. Dressage riders and western riders tend to hurt their lower back in falls, while jumpers (and anyone riding English with a forward seat) tend to hurt their noggins.
"With regard to admission to spinal units for horse riding accidents, there are far more lumbar and thoracic injuries than cervical in contrast to all other sporting injuries (Table 12) which are almost entirely cervical injuries, indicating that there are different mechanisms involved.17 In all other sporting injuries where the head leads it is almost inevitable that the cervical spine, which is more vulnerable, will be fractured rather than the lumbar or thoracic spine. The only rugby injury in which the thoracic spine was involved was when a drunken rugby player fell downstairs after a game. This would be in keeping with the speculation that in horse riding accidents there are two methods of riding: either jockey style (cross country position) with the head forward, where the rider would be more likely to sustain a cervical injury accompanied inevitably by a head injury, and classical style where the head is held high and the rider would be likely to fall on to the buttocks.8
It is certainly true that head and neck injuries are strongly correlated with jumping, not dressage.
As an example, one of my two falls was without a helmet. Mia had bolted, I got her stopped, tried to get off of her and she bolted in the dismount. Since my left foot initially moved forward with her - until it came out - I landed on my back, and my hip still hurts 2.5 years later. My body probably instinctively curled to protect my head. The ballcap I was wearing had dust on it, but my head felt fine.
Of course, that is NOT an argument against wearing helmets, which is why I don't like anecdotal evidence. Think how stupid I would sound if I wrote, "Sure was glad I had a ballcap on...saved my life!"
But when another study of eventing shows 88% of head injuries occurred in the jumping phase, 1% in dressage and 11% while the rider was doing ground ops, it seems pretty likely that there is a difference in how a person tumbles from a horse, depending on if he is leaning forward or is settled in the saddle.
A western rider can still split his skull, which is why I usually wear a helmet, and why I wouldn't consider riding on pavement or rocky trails without one.
But when you look at the numbers, I think you can understand why many dressage or western riders are underwhelmed with the need for a helmet, and why a jumper would be insane to ride without one...well, at least, now that helmets are widely available...
I want to add that saddle selection is also a form of risk acceptance/reduction. A stock saddle (Australian or western) gives you a lot more help in staying on when things turn ugly, yet we are mercifully spared from well-meaning people trying to ban English riding, or forbidding kids from doing so.
Helmets may not keep you 100% safe but it does take a lot of pain out of falling.
Wore my helmet, got dumped off my horse and it didn't make my dislocated knee any little bit less painful.
Didn't make my fractured wrist any less painful either when my other horse dumped me.... no wait, it made that WAY more painful because I then had to use my fractured wrist to undo the dang helmet to take it off.
My riding instructer teresa told me a story about this horse she had that always reared and had no balance so the horse would always go over, so she sold it and a girl she was teaching bought it and the girl would never wear a helmet when teresa was around and one day there was a clinic going on at the barn and teresa argued with the girl for like 20 mins about putting her helmet on, the girl did endup putting her helmet on and as soon as she got on the horse reared up and fell on her and almost split her helmet in half. After I head that story I always wear my helmet
my riding instructer teresa told me a story about this horse she had that always reared and had no balance so the horse would always go over, so she sold it and a girl she was teaching bought it...after I head that story I always wear my helmet
After hearing THAT story, I'd find another instructor...
Horse always rears and falls over, so she recommends wearing a helmet???? How about, "Don't get on that horse at all, you could be killed!!!!!"
After hearing THAT story, I'd find another instructor...
she didnt sell the horse to her, the girl begged but she refused to sell it to her, the girl baught it a while later when the new owners where selling it, she would never sell a dangerous horse to someone that couldnt handle it
When I ride at work, I wear a helmet.
My instructor's brother, who was an amazing trainer, got thrown off of a little pony. Hit his head, and died.
At home, I never wear a helmet. In the 5 years I've been riding, I've landed on my face once. FACE, not head. Nearly broke my nose. I was wearing glasses at the time, and they cut my face all the way across.
All the times I have ridden without one, I've never fallen.