I never wore a helmet when I was a kid. We rode western and at the time it was the commonly helped belief that only jockeys and jumpers wore helmets. How I didn't end up with a smashed head I don't know.
I ride English now and always wear a helmet. When I came back to horses it was required at the lesson barn and now its a habit. Earlier this year, I took some bad advice from my ex trainer and ended falling spectacularly. I split my helmet completely through the foam and halfway up. You could see clean through the other side. I wasn't even concussed. Imagine if I didn't wear my $30 helmet!
Helmets can be tricky to fit and some helmet brands and models have fans and some have haters.
I don't know why a person would make fun of someone ele for wearing safety gear. HAHA YOU'RE PROTECTING YOURSELF!! I don't get the humor. Maybe one day someone will explain.
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