No helmets, we rode bareback mostly. ... there were a group of about 5 kids in the neighborhood and we spent all of our free time riding.
We grew up in rural Oregon and big farms and orchards surrounded our property. In the summer we'd head out and go swimming in the creeks on horseback, and got sick on blackberries and cherries and peaches and apples. (Horses got plenty of those too).
Our horses were well loved, well used, and well broke, which was great 'cause we did some incredibly stupid things with them... such as:
We tried jousting with pvc pipe as a lance, a garbage can lid as a shield, and a pillow as a chest protector. Of course when we knocked each other off and laid there in pain (while the horses looked at us like the idiots we were) that was the end of that.
Following a particularly inspiring episode of "Little House on the Prarie" we wanted to drive our appaloosa named Flit. We tied a little red rider wagon with lunge lines to the girth of a bareback pad. Then used rope for reins from the bit, through the handle of the pad, down to the wagon. Sat in the wagon and whacked the horse on the butt with the reins. Went well until Flit realized he was being followed - then the race was on. Luckily we did this in a pasture so when we finally fell out of the wagon he ran for his stall and we had to cut him free from the wreckage of the wagon.
Like I said, I was crazy stupid. But man, I loved that horse. He defined my life, gave me confidence, and left me forever a horse person. :)
So, let's hear your stories....