Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE
True Helmet Stories from HORSE-SENSE Readers

> True Helmet Stories
Helmet Saved Me While on Vacation in New Zealand by Pam

Reading all the other stories made me want to share mine. In 1999 I went on a vacation to New Zealand, and to make it a memorable experience, I signed up to go on a guided trail ride. I was pretty much a green beginner but have loved horses my whole life. Thankfully the guys running the operation made us all wear helmets -- I'm not sure if it was an approved helmet or not, but it did the job. Anyone who knows Kiwis know that they are an adventurous bunch of people, especially outdoors (a Kiwi invented Bungy Jumping, among other things). The guys paired us up with horses and off we went.

We traveled mostly up this very large "hill" (seemed like a small moutain to me) which was mostly wooded. On the way back on a different trail, the guide (in front) coaxed the horses into a fast canter. Immediately I lost my balance in the saddle and was clinging on for life, yelling "STOP!" (which is what the guide told us to do if there was an emergency). The last thing I remember was hanging halfway off the horse (next to his shoulder) yelling "STOP!" I was the last one so no one was behind me to see what was going on. The next thing I remember is sitting up on the trail and the guide handing my helmet back to me. I was very shaken and stunned. The impact on whatever I hit was hard enough to snap the safety buckle under my chin open and my helment went flying. I only know that I landed on my head/left side because of mud patterns on the helmet and my jacket and pants. I had paid extra for travel insurance but didn't want to go to the hospital -- I was a bit embarrassed and at the time thought I felt OK and just needed to sit down. Of course I had to ride the horse back down to the barn - we were still a ways away. It was all I could do to focus on the task at hand. Looking back of course I now know I should have had a lookover by a doctor. I was traveling alone with a tour group and we were leaving Queenstown the next day, so I didn't want to get left behind. To this day I have a little memory gap of when I was knocked unconscious, but I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn't have a helmet on -- a serious injury, possibly life-threatening no doubt. It was a real wake-up call and thankfully God let me experience it before commencing a riding program, so I won't ever ride without one!

I have had many fun trail rides since then. Whenever I travel I try to find someplace close by that offers guided trail rides -- it's a great way to remember your vacation. I went on a stunning 2-hour hack in the Lake District in England last summer (all of us in helmets - the British take their horsemanship seriously. We had to even wear rubber riding boots that they provided since many weren't wearing proper boots, and they had 2 guides -- one in front and one at the back). I highly recommend exploring the area you're visiting this way -- just remember to insist on a helmet!

Keep up the fantastic work on helmet safety!

Back to top.