First Pat Parrelli, and now an internet guru (let's call him "Gick Rore"--he has been known to give out personal information of people who disagree with him and encourage his followers to harrass them, so I reverse a couple of letters in case he googles himself, as he no doubt does) saying that "helmets are bad." The point both make (a legitimate point) is that helmets don't make you a good rider. But the deeper point is that even good riders get pitched sometimes due to circumstances outside their control. Some genius on "RG's" channel honors a family member by writing "my aunt died in a horseback riding accident; she wore a helmet but had bad horsemanship." (Perhaps they put this on her tombstone.) Let me extend this logic. "I don't wear a seatbelt, because I am a good driver." (nothing ever happens on the road--or on the trail!--outside of my control?) "My uncle took chemotheraphy and still died of cancer" (chemotherapy does not save lives.) "I am a very experienced alligator handler--so I will dangle my baby over a pit full of them." (Since experience and confidence prevents all accidents.) Use your heads folks! Continue to protect them!
I agree with you (at least I think I do). Helmets are not to make up for a lack of horsemanship skills.
I trail rode without a helmet for YEARS. Up and down mountains. Through city streets, everywhere. But just recently I have started wearing a helmet. Not because my horsemanship has backslide- I am actually a much better rider than I used to be when I rode everywhere without one. But because I now have a yearling, and I know ponying him out increases my risks of a wreck. And now that I have a helmet that I find comfortable and attractive, I say heck, why not wear it on every ride?
Making the argument that someone is a good rider and therefore doesn't need a helmet is kind of stupid. It's like saying that you don't need to wear a seat-belt because you are a good driver. Well, even a good driver can have someone else hit them or slide off the road in icy weather. A good rider can have an accident through no fault of their riding.
BUT, I am pro-choice when it comes to helmets. I think it is a personal decision based on your comfort level with your horses and how much danger you perceive yourself to be in.
I am pro-choice too, even in regard to seat belts. But I think these whom many people--for good or for ill--see as experts don't advise them to use helmets and even go on--in word and deed--to imply that helmets are bad or not needed are being irresponsible.
And since I mentioned RG, I will say that I am all on board for his basic philosophy of horses. But the more I watched, the less impressed with him I got. He got into an embroilment with a woman and published her name, place of residence and email on his website, tacitly encouraging others to harrass her. (Posting someone's info on a website without consent is a dangerous business, especially when you are potentially starting fires in the dark woods of the internet--and "she made me mad first" is not an excuse for putting her at risk.) And then I stopped watching altogether after seeing him endanger himself (his business) and two horses in his video on the "One Rein Stop" by charging one horse at another which was rolling on the ground. The latter flipped up with a mighty kick, barely missing a HELMETLESS head.
R ick G ore. His early vids are great, and his horse philosophy is great. But he has increasingly become a Jerry Springer parody of his former self, many of his later vids encouraging controversy, and his misogyny is notorious.
I understand why some people choose to go without a helmet, but I cannot imagine encouraging someone to do so. I've ridden calm horses in an arena without a helmet, but my mare is way too spooky and the trails around here far too rocky for me to consider going without. I've only got one noggin, and it already has few enough active brain cells left in it...
Neither of them actually says "DON'T wear a helmet," but they both definitely say, more or less in word and definitely in deed, that helmets are not necessary and that you can become a good enough rider not to need one. There are a lot of kids riding, and they need to be encouraged to wear helmets, and the best way is for adults to set an example. Seatbelts save lives, and so do helmets, and you will never become such a great driver that you can never have an accident, and the same goes for horseback riding.
It's almost like the mentality of wearing helmets show a weakness in horsemanship. You don't wear a helmet because you're so good in riding, but because it's safer in that you can't control everything or know everything that will happen.
When I was younger, I wished I could ride without a helmet, some of my friends did. But now I realize that's just dumb . . .not calling my friends dumb . . .but it's not "cool" to not wear a helmet. It's dangerous. So it's unfortunate that these horsemen are not thinking of the safety of their riders first.
There was a guy here just recently who died in a skateboarding accident because he wasn't wearing his helmet. Granted it is a little different than riding horses but it does go to show that no matter how experienced you are in something there are always risks involved. The area he fell off at was some place he skated all the time in, too. Wasn't doing tricks as far as they know. And he was experienced. (But young and probably overconfident)
I think Parelli and the RG guy have the same thought in mind: "I hate wearing helmets, so I'm going to come up with some lame excuse why they are unneeded so I don't lose credibility."
Just my two cents.
Skipping a helmet isn't a particularly dangerous act for many riders. The vast majority of head injuries come in jumping. Anyone who jumps, including those who wear helmets, engages in an activity with a much higher risk of head injury than those going bare-headed but not jumping (jumping increases the risk at least 10-fold, while wearing a helmet cuts it only about 50%).
That is why it should be an individual's choice. But a helmet doesn't increase the risk for any riding, so discouraging someone from wearing a helmet is stupid and arguably immoral. And a 50% decrease, even if it is from 2% down to 1%, isn't bad for a $50 investment.
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