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

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bucked off on trail ride, landed on railroad tracks by Shannon

I was riding a nice, calm, "bomb-proof" Quarter Horse mare on a trail ride. She spooked and bolted off fast to the right side, where there just happened to be railroad tracks. In her panicking state, she fought against me pulling back on the reins and she ran up on the tracks. Her hoof became lodged between the wooden strips and after a few powerful bucks, I went flying. I landed hard, hitting my back on the steel rail of the tracks and smacked my head on the ground!

I have ridden English for many years and have always worn my helmet. Truthfully, up until that day, I had never had a bad fall. The philosophy, at ALL farms that I have taken English riding lessons at, is one of "Safety First." No rider is permitted to ride without a helmet, ever. I have never ridden, or permitted my children to ride, without a helmet while riding at our home--a practice that was instilled in me by my previous instructors.

SO, HERE'S THE KICKER--this was the FIRST and ONLY time I have ever ridden WITHOUT a helmet! By a few inches, I missed hitting my head on that steel rail. I hate to think about how things could have turned out for me that day if my head hit the steel rail instead of my back. By a matter of a few inches, I may not be here today, or may not have the where-with-all to type this. I have a friend who rides western. He wears a cowboy hat and would never think of riding with a helmet. My daughter and I showed up that day at his farm for our "relaxing" trail ride. When he saw me get the helmets out of my trunk, he jokingly said, "You're not going to wear those fancy helmets today. Today, you're cowgirls, riding western." We're friends, we tease each other about our style of riding. His comment was all in good fun. But, having made that comment, I made the decision to put the helmets back in the trunk. I thought to myself that I was going on a nice trail ride, on a beautiful spring day, and won't I look stupid wearing my black velvet helmet while riding in western tack. My mistake!

I hit the rail hard. To this day, I have back pain. Everyone there that day was in shock at how close my head came to hitting the rail. But you know what, all ride western, and to this day, all ride with their cowboy/girl hats, no helmets! I don't understand. Whether you are on a green horse or bomb-proof horse, a beginner or an advanced rider, is not the issue--expect the unexpected when it comes to riding horses--fact is, they spook, they buck, they stumble, things happen. Be as safe as you possibly can and WEAR YOUR HELMET.

We all ride because it is our passion to ride and we don't like to think about these things, but remember, you only have one head, one life, and it only takes one unexpected fall to change your world and the world of those who love you and whom you care about and love so much.

For all you western riders, I have seen cowboy hat styled helmets at horse expos...check them out...they may save your life and you can still look good while falling!!!!

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