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

> True Helmet Stories
Hit head on arena fence by Vicki

I ride hunt seat and a couple of years ago, I was in a lesson, wearing my helmet as required. The day was windy and there was a feeling of electricity in the air. My lesson horse, a Thoroughbred mare, who I rode quite frequently, was acting high, as was another horse in the arena.

We had been cantering, but I was feeling nervous at the canter because my horse kept picking up speed and was resistant to my attempts to slow her canter, so I brought her back down to a walk. I then told my instructor I didn't want to canter anymore that day. To my relief, she said that was fine and instructed me to go into the posting trot.

I began trotting, but before we had even gone a quarter of the way around the arena, my horse suddenly turned to the inside and bolted across the center of the arena at a gallop. Though I had trail ridden alot as a kid and fairly frequently as an adult, and had been taking lessons for a couple of years, I had never experienced a bolting horse. I was terrified as I realized I had absolutely no control over her and my attempts to stop her (wrongly, by pulling straight back on the reins) only made her go faster. I was sure that she was going to go straight over the arena fence or into it. At the last possible second before the fence, she turned sharply right and I flew off to the left, slamming the back of my head into the fence rail. The entire back of my helmet was cracked in two, but my head and the rest of me, except for being sore, was fine. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet, I believe I would have been severely injured or even killed.

Up until that day, I had only worn my helmet in lessons, but never wore it trailriding, since I've never been required to at any of the Western rental stables where I've ridden over the years and nobody seems to wear them for that type of riding (except the kids who are usually required to in this area). Now I wear my helmet whenever I am on a horse anywhere, even if I am the only one in the trail group with a helmet on, which is usually the case. (I always bring my own helmet, too, as I know it fits, and the one time I didn't bring a helmet to a rental stable because the stable said they could provide a helmet, I was handed a bicycle helmet). I have a young son and a great life, and it would be pretty stupid to jeopardize my life for the sake of looking cool or because I don't want helmet hair.

Sorry to be so long-winded! I think this is such an important topic and people really need to hear these stories and make the right choice for themselves.

Back to top.