A No Helmet Sport discussion - The Horse Forum
View Poll Results: Vaulting with no helmet
Ok with it and understand the hazards of wearing one in this sport 15 60.00%
It's ok 2 8.00%
No, it's a safety hazard 5 20.00%
Other, 3 12.00%
Voters: 25. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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A No Helmet Sport discussion

So, as many know vaulting is a sport where the athletes do not wear helmets. I wanted to start a thread since there was a lot of discussion going on a bit in the intro thread I had started.

So lets, discuss this topic a bit. There is a poll above with some options if you do not wish to add to the discussion/debate.

Please keep it civil. I know this can be a very passionate topic as it is a huge safety concern.

Personally when I ride my horses, I always wear a helmet. Though as a vaulter, I do not because it is a safety hazard in our eyes to wear one. I will let a few others take on the start of the discussion.

I will add my bit to the topic in a while, as I am currently at work and have a busy day ahead.
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post #2 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 01:10 PM
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As a child we always rode with a hunting cap (the traditional English velvet covered ones) these were made of cork and had a slippery material lining, which you tightened the string.
All in all eh offered very little protection unless you fell off directly onto the top of your head, a very rare occurrence! I had two concussions where I was knocked out cold, before I was 15. Both times I was wearing a hunting cap.

All the falls I took off naughty ponies and all the falls I took from messing around riding bareback I never hit my head. Lucky maybe but and it is a big BUT, I learned how to fall majority of the time landing on my feet.

With vaulting I think that the riders are extremely fit, athletic and agile. I imagine that they also do gymnastics which teaches how to fall and to twist so, I am not anti them not wearing a helmet.
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post #3 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 01:19 PM
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I don't vault but it seems to me that a helmet could effect your balance and cause more accidents.
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post #4 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 01:49 PM
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The trouble with no-helmet vaulting is that

1. most vaulters are minors. Minors do not get to decide how safe they want to play.
2. the penalty for one bad fall that a helmet could have protected you against is too great. Broken arms can mend. Not broken brains. The risk is not injury, but utterly catastrophic irreparable injury. Not worth it.

If there are not helmets designed for vaulting maybe it's time that changed. I would hope that it does before the suddenly-brain-dead thirteen year old makes the local news.

Short horse lover
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post #5 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 03:05 PM
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A helmet is part of a comprehensive risk management program which starts with (1) Don't get on a horse you know you can't handle, and (2) don't engage in activities on the horse you know you can't handle. I like that you brought up not wearing a helmet in vaulting because it is a rational risk management decision for your sport. To me, the question will always be, "Given that you decided to engage in this inherently risky activity, what steps are you taking to minimize your risk?" The answer should have both a behavioral and a gadget component. The remaining risk is yours to take, because it's not up to me to judge which risks are worth taking for others.
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post #6 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 03:35 PM
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I'll keep my response simple. I always wear a helmet when riding. I'd like to protect my brain/head! Not sure about vaulting, and I am not familiar with that, so I can't really speak for those who do it, but that's up to them to decide. :) All-in-all, personal preference.
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post #7 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 04:56 PM
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I don't wrestle steers and I don't vault. For my riding, sometimes I use a helmet. Sometimes I do not. I remember being surprised that steer wrestling has a very good safety record, at least where head injuries are concerned. Looks suicidal to me!

Injuries in equestrian vaulting: results of a prospective study.

BACKGROUND: Equestrian vaulting is a sport, particularly popular among children and adolescents, in which gymnastic and dance routines are performed on horseback. Current data regarding injuries and thus, the risks of this sport, is meager and based only on retrospective studies.

METHODS: In the current prospective study, 233 active members of a vaulting club were questioned monthly from November 2014 until October 2015. In addition to general information (training, competitions), the questionnaire collected the number of competitions, the competitive class, the discipline (single, team, Pas-de-Deux), and injuries (type, localization, treatment).

RESULTS: There were 102 documented events resulting in 125 injuries, yielding an average 31.64 days of training lost. Each vaulter suffered an average 0.44 injuries per year. Frequency of injury was 2.15 injuries per 1000 training hours. Injuries occurred most often to the lower and upper extremities. Most common were bruises and muscle injuries. Injury risk increased with increasing age, number of falls from the horse, increasing competitive level, number of tournament entries and events (P=0.006), and previous injuries (P=0.010).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study found that vaulting has a low risk of injury comparable to non-contact sports. The best focus for injury prevention strategies is on older vaulters at higher competitive levels performing more complex routines.

Injuries during Equestrian Vaulting


Background: Vaulting is the least studied equestrian sports regarding the occurrence of injuries. As its sequences of motion do not compare to riding, vaulting must be assessed separately.

Material and Methods: This retrospective, questionnaire-aided survey was aimed to gain insight into the overall frequency of injuries among equestrian vaulters. The second part of the study looked into the knee injuries that occurred. Survey forms were sent to 60 vaulting and equestrian clubs all over Germany, making for a response rate of 63%.

Results: 95% of 624 responding athletes were female. The pool of participants consisted of both amateur and professional level vaulters with a mean age of 15 years. The survey showed a mean number of 4.1 injuries sustained during the observation period, i.?e. the entire time an athlete had been active in the sport up to the data collection. The lower extremities were the most commonly injured area with a total proportion of 45%, followed by injuries to the spine and the head with 30%, and the upper extremities with 25%. Contusions accounted for the highest number of reported injuries. Other frequently reported injuries included muscle strain to the head and spine, fractures to the upper extremity and ligament damage to the lower extremity. 14% of the participants experienced at least one knee injury. The medial collateral ligament (27) was found to be most prone to lesions, followed by the anterior cruciate ligament (23%) and the medial meniscus (22%). Half of all knee injuries occurred during dismounts, especially when swing-offs or flanks led to faulty landings.

Conclusions: The results show that the lower extremity is the most commonly affected area. The ligamentous injuries affecting the lower extremity mainly result from dismounts. A specific training aimed at improving landing techniques might therefore prove beneficial in preventing injuries. The frequency of contusions and fractures to the upper extremity suggests that these injuries are related to falls.

I was able to interview the coaches or managers for 40 of the 60 United States vaulting teams including almost all of the larger teams. They were asked about head injuries, either of their team or others in the past five years that required medical attention. While they could not be expected to remember every sprained ankle, it was felt that they could probably remember every significant head injury with which they had been involved.

The AVA statistics did not report any head injuries. In my interviews I was able to find only two head injuries occurring in the past five years. One injury occurred when a horse shied and a vaulter fell, striking her head art the ground. She developed a subcutaneous hematoma, but no medical attention was required and there was no evidence of neurologic injury. The other injury occurred in practice when a child fell from a horse and landed in a sitting position. Although the child's head never touched the horse or the ground, she did experience amnesia and confusion for the rest of the day and was diagnosed as having a concussion. It is doubtful if any helmet would have been helpful in this case.

While the United States has only about 500 active vaulters, Germany registers 40,000 vaulting competitors each year. I was able to interview Ulrike Rieder, president of the German Equestrian Federation's vaulting committee. She was aware of only one significant head injury in the past several years. This occurred when the vaulter's head struck a horse's hoof in a fall.

I was also able to interview vaulting coaches from Sweden and Denmark. They reported a similar absence of head injuries in their countries. It is of interest that Sweden and England did require helmets for vaulting for several years. Both countries decided that helmets did not contribute to the safety of their vaulters and discontinued their use....

More here: https://www.americanvaulting.org/saf...nerArticle.pdf
In the absence of hard data to show vaulting includes serious risk of head injury, I see no reason to require helmets. For vaulting or for steer wrestling. Things can look much more dangerous than they actually are.

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post #8 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
If there are not helmets designed for vaulting maybe it's time that changed. I would hope that it does before the suddenly-brain-dead thirteen year old makes the local news.
^ This ^

There has to be *something* possible. Maybe not with a hard shell, maybe not *quite* as effective as a regular riding helmet. But... something.

My mind keeps flashing to Natalie Portman's helmet from Garden State. At least it would be... something.
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post #9 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 10:11 PM
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First, I'd like to understand why vaulters feel a helmet is dangerous. I can see maybe some balance issues and possibly a vision issue (peripheral vision maybe blocked some)? So, for me, jury is out on this one.

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post #10 of 35 Old 07-18-2019, 10:47 PM
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This is gymnastics on a horse. Do gymnasts where helmets?
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