You Can Lead someone to Water but You Can’t Make Them Think - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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You Can Lead someone to Water but You Can’t Make Them Think

A former client of mine moved back to the barn recently and brought her 11 year old daughter and their horse out to the arena as I was finishing up with a student. As we were chatting, her daughter mounted their horse with her hair flying free and I said to the mother “You’re not making her wear a helmet anymore?”. She said “yeah, she has to wear it for the club events but I don’t make her do it here”, “it’s no big deal”.
I was appalled and said “yeah it’s no big deal until your child ends up in a wheelchair with traumatic brain damage for the rest of her life-once you’ve witnessed it, you won’t forget it”.
I know that I now that I have said my piece, there is nothing more I can do but I can’t stop myself from wondering why a parent would be so casual about helmet use. Is it because statistically she doesn’t believe is going to happen to her child-it always happens to someone else?
I’ve always required my students under 18 to wear a helmet with no exceptions even though I come from a generation who never wore helmets for anything (heck-there was no such thing as sunscreen-we baked in the sun on purpose!). One day I witnessed a bright, funny young girl (and a very good rider) fall off a horse without a helmet. She cracked her skull and now 20 years later, her parents still take care of her in her wheelchair. Needless to say, after the accident she was never again bright, funny or a good rider.
As a parent, could a person ever forgive themselves for giving in to a child’s desire to ride without a helmet and then something happens? Statistics are just statistics and are of no comfort when it’s your child that becomes 1 in a million.
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post #2 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 09:01 AM
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While I believe that an adult can make their own choice, I also think helmets should be mandatory for anyone under age 18. I am surprised the barn doesn't have a policy enforcing that.
Not much you can do otherwise, aside from insisting she wear one if you are giving her a lesson.
Actually, while you are an instructor, maybe you should set an example for your students and wear a helmet while riding at the barn? Kids definitely look up to their mentors :)
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post #3 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 09:05 AM
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Unfortunately, it often takes either an injury or a close call before the alarm bells go off. If something happens to her daughter, no one will cry louder than the mother and she'll be looking for someone to blame. Perhaps the BO should be informed. In ON I believe it is the law to wear a helmet if under 18 plus boots with a defined heel of 1" or more.
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post #4 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 10:28 AM
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I nearly always ride with a helmet. Sunday I was taking a well broke but frisky mare out for a ride in the field. I nearly didn't wear a helmet, but grabbed it at the last second. I haven't come off in years. Well, my frisky horse was being a brat, I tried to turn her on what looked like good footing and she hit a patch of mud under the grass, slid out and slammed down flat on her side. My whole right side is bruised and my helmet slammed into the ground, preventing what would surely have been a nasty concussion.

Any parent that does not insist on basic safety gear for their child is extremely foolish.
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post #5 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 05:27 PM
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It's pure ignorance that allows a parent to act like that. You see the same parents letting their kids ride bikes without helmets, or they have helmets on with the chin strap unattached.

Any BO that doesn't have a very strong, clear policy in writing posted for all to see that all riders under 18 are required to wear helmets and all riders regardless of age are encouraged to wear them is asking for a lawsuit. As an attorney, I'd advise BOs to have extra helmets available for riders who don't bring their own, and never ignore a situation when they see a child without one on. It's the only way to protect your assets and the brains of kids whose parents are too foolish to do it for them.

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #6 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 05:53 PM
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Agree with all posts here. I never go without my helmet on any horse. I was not a fan of helmets in my early years, but fear of my own green broke horse's antics caused me to wear one at all times. Now I wear a helmet no matter what. My mother has only been riding for a couple years and always wears a helmet. We are the helmet wearing (and I am the english) freaks of our horse neighborhood and proud of it! We don't care what other people say about it-we always wear helmets. Needless to say, my local arena's royal court was discreetly unhappy with their state flag carrier's helmet wearing ways, although they said and pretended they were OK with it. I was the only one on a court of five girls (three of them riding hot insane rearing barrel horses) who wore a helmet. IMO, climbing on any horse, especially ones like they rode, without a helmet is asking for a death certificate.
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post #7 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 05:56 PM
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ecasey-I just noticed that you live in Southern France. LUCKY!!! It must be so gorgeous! I want to live somewhere green like that instead of an endless dirt, sand, rock and cactus desert. Sorry for being OT!
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post #8 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 07:49 PM
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ANOTHER "Anyone who doesn't wear a helmet is an idiot" thread?

If you want safety, don't ride horses. If you ride, you accept a certain amount of risk. How much? No one can quantify it because there are too many variables. If you jump because it is fun, or you ride bareback because it is fun, or if you ride where the ground is rocky and any fall can cripple or kill you because it is fun, then you are taking risks for the fun of it. If you allow you kid to do any of those things, you accept the risk of their dying...for the fun of riding!

I almost always wear a helmet, but I dislike people who call others idiots for making a different decision about how much risk to accept.

I know people who have ridden for 50+ years, often on green horses and in rough terrain, without helmets...and who did so without busting their heads. In fact, I know folks whose family has done so for generations without ever having a head injury.

There are studies that support the idea that we are at greater risk while working with horses while on the ground than we are in many forms of riding. I've hit the ground more times trying to calm a scared horse while I was on foot than I have from my spooky mare bolting, spinning or spooking. Yet how many of us insist on wearing a helmet any time we pick up a lead rope? How many parents insist their kids wear helmets any time they are in a corral or pasture?

"Statistics are just statistics and are of no comfort when it’s your child that becomes 1 in a million.

Yep! So don't ride. Don't go hiking in the desert - I once heard a rattle, and finally found the source coiled up between my feet! Don't ride motorcycles. I spent my adult life flying in jet fighters, strapped to an ejection seat - don't do that! Heck, I watched an F-4 explode in a ball of flame taking off out of George AFB, CA once, and then strapped in and took off the other runway!

Statistics are the only meaningful way to discuss risk. If the chance of injury is 1 in 1,000,000,000,000, it will still suck if your kid is that one...but no one can avoid that level of risk.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #9 of 57 Old 04-23-2014, 11:34 PM
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I agree to some extent. I understand the barn owners need to protect themselves from a lawsuit, and I also understand that we have freedom of choice. I believe that kids should be required to wear helmets when riding until the age of 18. After that, legally, the barn owner is at very little risk of a lawsuit, so it's not their problem what they decide to do. I can easily see a barn owner being sued for not requiring helmets for minors. If your kid ended up being the one in a million, who would you most likely go after? The barn owner or the horse owner if the horse is owned by a boarder. It seems stupid, but you always have to look out for your own interests. We live in a very sue happy society now a days.

Strength is not defined by physical ability. It is determined by your actions and the compassion of your soul.
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post #10 of 57 Old 04-24-2014, 12:42 AM
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Well I guess I'm the idiot then...

I don't wear a helmet. I was not taught to ride with one, and I was 4 when I started lessons.

I do own a helmet. I took lessons later in life and it was mandated by the facility that all people wore them.

When I am riding my personal horse I do not wear one. Whenever I ride a strange horse or if I feel that my personal horse may act up I put the helmet on.

When I go with friends I make them wear a helmet always.

It's a double standard, yes. Yes, I understand the risk of riding. Yes I understand the choice I make whenever I mount without a helmet. Yes I accept any and all potential situations that may occur when riding a horse.

But in the end, it's my choice.
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