Should I wear a helmet? - Page 4
 
 

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Should I wear a helmet?

This is a discussion on Should I wear a helmet? within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category

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        12-03-2011, 09:52 AM
      #31
    Banned
    I greatly dislike these threads, because as many have said before me, it's a personal choice for adults. I don't question the intelligence or disparage the wisdom of those who chose not to wear helmets, I assume that they are competent adults who've done their own risk/benefit analysis and come up with a different answer than mine.

    That said, I was brought up in barns where everyone wore helments 100% of the time, so I never considered going without an option.

    As a barn manager and trainer, I had a helmet requirement that I enforced diligently as much from a liability standpoint as an injury avoidance standpoint. As a landowner and horseowner now, nobody rides on my place or gets on one of my horses without a helment, regardless of saddle choice, and that includes children getting pony rides. Again, equal concern about liability as injury avoidance.

    I think the westen/english arguement is no longer valid. I see western riders trail riding with helmets, if I go to a team sorting or penning a certain percentage of riders wear helmets.

    I do want to make a point about some of the statistics being thrown around, however. The point isn't "completely PREVENTING any head injury whatsoever." it's also about mitigating the damage of the head injury when they do occur.

    I had an epic wreck when a horse flipped over a big fence on hard ground. I shatterd both forearms, cracked my right cheekbone and had a significant concussion, so much so that the rescue squad diverted en route and took me to a Level 1 trauma center. I was wearing the best helmet available at the time, a jockey's Caliente helmet. If you're reporting my case as a statistic in a study, do you report it in the 50% where the helmet failed to prevent an injury? Or is it in the category where the helmet greatly mitigated the effects of the fall?

    The latter is closer to the truth; without the helmet I would have been brain damaged or dead. No hyperbole there, I fell from about 8 feet onto my head, on hard ground. Should I blame the helmet for the moderate head injury I did receive, or credit the helmet for keeping it from being more serious?

    To the OP's original point -

    In the circumstances described, yup, I'd put on a helmet. Can't hurt, might help. Not costly or terribly uncomfortable to take the precaution, so why not?
    Horsecrazy4ever likes this.
         
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        12-03-2011, 11:30 AM
      #32
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maura    
    ...I had an epic wreck when a horse flipped over a big fence on hard ground. I shatterd both forearms, cracked my right cheekbone and had a significant concussion, so much so that the rescue squad diverted en route and took me to a Level 1 trauma center. I was wearing the best helmet available at the time, a jockey's Caliente helmet. If you're reporting my case as a statistic in a study, do you report it in the 50% where the helmet failed to prevent an injury? Or is it in the category where the helmet greatly mitigated the effects of the fall...
    I think it is given that helmets reduce the severity of many head injuries. However, from the viewpoint of someone trying to study equine safety, how do you measure that? There is never a way to determine precisely what would have happened if the person was wearing a ball cap instead.

    I don't have professional access to the journals that involve safety, so I have to rely on free publications. The ones I have been able to find generally use around 50% reduction in head injuries.

    Here is another challenge in discussing exactly how much safer someone is with a certain piece of gear:

    Humans tend to judge total risk and reduce the total risk to a level they are willing to accept. On a given stretch of road, as cars handle better and become more safe, people respond by driving faster.

    This is obviously true of gear and horses. I'm not the only one on this thread who has said he would never jump without a helmet. But jumping increases risk by some unmeasurable amount...yet I'll accept that risk, maybe, if I have a helmet, and will not if I do not. So how has my overall safety risk improved?

    I have said I will probably never again ride my mare without a helmet. And the trails near where I live are so rocky and cactus-y that I doubt I'll ever ride ANY horse on the trails near here without a helmet. But that means the helmet makes me feel comfortable increasing my risk in another area because it has reduced my perceived risk of concussion.

    I've brought statistics into these discussions to try to get away from pure anecdotal evidence. I think the broad trends that have been documented help people determine what is best for them.

    Jumping statistics indicate an increased risk of 10X or possibly much greater. Proper gear, good horses, GOOD INSTRUCTION and other factors can reduce that risk, maybe even down to 1:1. But if someone doesn't know that jumping can be upwards of 10-80X more dangerous, they won't have a reason to mitigate that risk.

    I think it is obvious that English saddles are less 'safe' than western or Australian saddles. After all, part of the design of western and australian saddles was a deliberate attempt to make them safer, while an English jump saddle is meant to improve the horse's jumping ability.

    I have bookmarked an abstract that shows riding in an English saddle is associated with higher risk.

    I own two English saddles, two Australian-style and one western. My favorite is the Bates Caprilli close contact. Although I've ridden Mia a lot of times with it, I probably will never do so again. However, I rode Trooper with it a couple of weeks ago. My conclusion was that I need to improve my riding at a canter and gallop some more, but I hope by spring to use that saddle as my normal saddle for Trooper in an arena. On the trails, it will be Aussie or western. With Mia, it will be western or Aussie, period.

    We have a new pony. I ride Trooper and Mia primarily bitless, but the pony is new, nervous, and has never been ridden without a bit. So we will ride him with a bit until he calms down enough to try a rope halter only. And if it makes him nervous, we may only ride him with a bit forever.

    That is the biggest point about riding safety that I want to make. The risk involves horse, rider ability and training, supervision, terrain, style of riding, saddles, bits/bitless, helmets, body protectors, etc.

    And I think the biggest factor in riding safely is making an honest assessment - with an instructor's help, maybe - of your riding ability and horse, and accepting your limits. Use everything else to reduce the risk to a level acceptable to you. And if you cannot, don't ride that day.
         
        12-03-2011, 11:44 AM
      #33
    Banned
    I think that this:

    Quote:
    Humans tend to judge total risk and reduce the total risk to a level they are willing to accept. On a given stretch of road, as cars handle better and become more safe, people respond by driving faster.
    does not apply to riding and horses. I can safely say that I don't ride faster or take more risk because I have a helment on my head. You can't even say that I take less risk/go slower when I don't wear a helmet because like many riders, I never go without a helmet. So you're introducing a variable that only affects the part of the population that makes a decision about wearing a helmet based on the conditions of that day's ride: green horse, rocky terrain, etc.

    In re: saddles vs. risk; I think that's a case of ascribing a result to the wrong variable. The variables that matter are 1.) speed and 2.) height of obstacles.

    It's a casual (NOT causal) relationship to saddles - the folks that want to really gallop fast and jump high are usually in English saddles. I do not believe there's anything inherent in the design of the saddle or the body mechanics of the discipline that makes it more or less safe. Speed and obstacles are the variables that influence risk.
         
        12-03-2011, 12:07 PM
      #34
    Trained
    Well, we strongly disagree. There are too many posts on this thread and others to show many DO feel more comfortable taking risk with a helmet than without. And I would be willing to be that if the jumping world BANNED helmets, many riders would reduce their speed and jumping height.

    "The variables that matter are 1.) speed and 2.) height of obstacles"

    Well, in that case we should ban jumping. That would only leave speed...

    As for saddle...the vast majority of injuries come in a fall. Which of the two saddles below make it harder to slide off the front, off the rear, or regain balance for a side-side motion:





    "It's a casual (NOT causal) relationship to saddles - the folks that want to really gallop fast and jump high are usually in English saddles."

    JUMP? Yes. Go fast and perform violent maneuvers? I suspect a lot of reiners and barrel racers and cutters would disagree with you.
         
        12-03-2011, 12:25 PM
      #35
    Weanling
    I see there is many diffrent opinions on the matter of wearing a helmet or not.

    I didn't mean to start a battle and I understand that some would NEVER wear a helmet, where others would NEVER go without one.

    Being that I am 14 and a rather novice rider, and having a greenbroke mount, I will start wearing a helmet(at least until he is well broke..) Some may think I am dumb for wearing one,others may think I am daft for not wearing one in the first place.

    I again thank you all for your comments,tips and advice. It has helped me a lot.
         
        12-03-2011, 12:25 PM
      #36
    Banned
    What keeps a saddle between the rider and the ground has way more to do with the circumstances and the individual rider's skill and training that it does with the design of a saddle.

    For me, personally, I'm safer and less likely to fall out of the English saddle.

    With the longer stirrup, lower leg off of the horse, and my sense of disconnection with all that leather between me and the horse, I'd be much more likely to get blown out of the western saddle.

    And Aussie saddles and western saddles weren't designed with rider safety in mind, the evolved, just like English saddles to be suited to the job they were supposed to do.

    If you *feel* safer in your Aussie or Western, that's great, and that's what you should ride in, just like I *feel* safer in my hunt seat saddle. But that doesn't mean there's something inherent in the saddle that makes us safer.

    I maintain the variables that affect risk are 1.) speed 2.) obstacles 3.) training of the horse and rider 4.) footing and terrain. Unfortunately, no one's going to be able to design a study where they can control for those variables.

    Reiners and cutters NEVER approach the speed or fox hunters and eventers, period. Barrel racers may very well, but for seconds at a time. The average barrel run is 14 - 22 seconds.

    Maneovuering? Yup. Cutters, barrel racers and reiners have it all over hunters, jumpers and eventers. But I didn't say manevuering was a variable, the variables are speep and height of obstacles.

    We disagree only about the conclusions you're drawing from your research. If you think jumping is significantly more dangerous, don't do it. I won't try to persuade you otherwise.

    However, when you draw conclusions that I beleive are erroneous about a sport you don't have a great depth of knowledge about, I will respectfully disagree with those conclusions.
         
        12-03-2011, 12:25 PM
      #37
    Banned
    OP, sorry for the thread hijack.

    I like the fact that you're thinking this through in a logical manner. I hope you got the info you needed.
         
        12-03-2011, 01:38 PM
      #38
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maura    
    ...If you *feel* safer in your Aussie or Western, that's great, and that's what you should ride in, just like I *feel* safer in my hunt seat saddle. But that doesn't mean there's something inherent in the saddle that makes us safer....

    ...However, when you draw conclusions that I beleive are erroneous about a sport you don't have a great depth of knowledge about, I will respectfully disagree with those conclusions.
    I think this is a case where my lack of experience helps me, rather than hurts.

    I daily face the experience of being a fairly inexperienced rider riding in either an English, Australian, or western saddle. That means I get to compare, regularly, how much help I get at staying in the saddle from the design of the saddle.

    With about 4 years of total riding, with time pretty evenly divided between English, Aussie & western saddles, an Aussie saddle with a horn is very hard to beat when a rider is starting to lose balance. The western saddle is a close second, followed by an Aussie saddle without horn, and then an AP English. I haven't ever tried a dressage saddle. At the bottom of the list would be a jump saddle.

    That may well change for someone with years of jump experience. But for a newbie, who has lots of current experience at being unbalanced, and whose legs tend to fly all over the place in a disgusting display of inability? Saddles DO make a difference.

    In fact, one of the reasons I progressed so slowly was I was riding a spooky mare in a jump saddle, and found it almost impossible to relax. Only when I started riding daily in an Aussie saddle did I learn how important a relaxed leg is...

    As for jumping: of course I don't have a lot of experience. Nor do I have any experience in bull riding, but I think I can figure out it has more risk than riding my gelding in an arena.

    I've presented multiple studies, all of which conclude that jumping increases risk. None - not one! - has concluded that jumping has level risk with flat riding. I concede your point that good instruction and equipment and horse can make the additional risk minimal - but not everyone who jumps gets good instruction on a good horse with good equipment. My few months of jumping, 30 years ago, involved 'lessons' that consisted of putting me on a horse and letting me jump. I would hope no one else would pay for such non-instruction...but I also know, from reading on this forum, that plenty jump with little or no formal instruction.

    I think it is also obvious that when horses regularly offer their rider upward thrust, they complicate staying on them. That is why they do that while bucking. I don't need extensive experience to observe that.

    Oh - and glad to hear the OP is going to wear a helmet. I think the OP is showing excellent judgment.
         
        12-03-2011, 03:46 PM
      #39
    Banned
    I think we agree then, the saddle isn't inherently safer by design, your experience, circumstances and quality of instruction heavily influence how safe you feel in a particular saddle.

    If I studied three different types of motorcycles for injury rates, and discovered the third type had an associated injury rate more than 10X the first type, I might be led to conclude that the design of the motorcycles affected the injury rate. I mean, those are the two variables I studied, and there's a clear correlation, so that seems a reasonable conclusion. However, if I then learned the first type were street bikes, the second were dirt bikes and the third were competition motorcross racing bikes, well, then, I might have to concede that there's an another explanation for the data correlation and that it might be something about motocross racing itself, rather than the design of the bike, that caused the high injury rate.

    That's my analogy for your conclusions about saddles and also about rider position.


    Quote:
    I think it is also obvious that when horses regularly offer their rider upward thrust, they complicate staying on them.
    No quarrell or quibble from me there either I can absolutely agree.

    I hope it's safe to return this thread to the OP now!
         
        12-03-2011, 06:01 PM
      #40
    Started
    I barrel race my slightly insane mare and my calmer gelding and I can count on my fingers the number of times I've used a helmet. This is over a time period of 13 years (cause I started riding when I was 4). I guess I just don't get the purpose of it.
         

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