I often meet people who do not believe in wearing helmets while riding horses. Some simply do not like the feel on their head or do not have a habit of bringing one to the stables. Others feel that a helmet does not look artistic enough or even believe that wearing one would imply that you are afraid. The latter usually state that when your relationship with your Horse is good, you will know when not to get on so you don't need to wear a helmet when you do get on because you only get on when everything is safe. Get it?
Right, let me explain why in my opinion everyone should wear one (and a spine protector too):
1. It is the cheapest insurance you can get. A helmet may cost you 100-150 euro, a good spine protector even less. If you can afford to ride, you can afford this too.
2. As an instructor, parent or any riding adult, you are the one who sets the example for the younger generation. Just like fastening your Seatbelts in a car, it is a habit that people can learn, so start them young by setting the right example.
3. Helmets come in so many varieties these days that there will always be a model that fits you comfortably without hindering you. Same Goes for flexible spine protectors, you won't notice you are wearing one! For spine protectors, try the ones for alpine sports and make sure to get the right size.
4. Wearing a helmet is not less artistic. In fact, last time I rode without one was because someone convinced me not to wear mine during a test for the artistic reason. I regret it because now I am uncomfortable showing my helmet-less photo's and video's to people even though my test was fabulous. Sucks..
5. You are not God. You can not predict the future or control the circumstances. No matter how great your relationship is with your Horse, silly accidents can always happen. Just because you are a good driver does not make you invincable on the road, you can always get hit by another driver. So being a good driver yourself does not provide a reason not to buckle up. Being a good Rider does decrease the risk of your Horse spooking and/or you falling off, but the chances are never 0%.
6. Would you appreciate it if your partner gets on a motor cycle on the highway in jeans only? Right, most of our partners also like to see us take some precautions.
Of course a helmet and spinal protector can not protect you from all harm, but why not at least minimalize the possibilities of getting some serious cranial or spinal damage? The equipment is available everywhere, so why not use it?
Because we often speak about horse-training, we often find ourselves believing in the misconception that it is the horse that needs most of the work, most of the "fixing". While in fact it is us, the riders, who have to strive constantly for self-improvement mentally and physically, in order to allow the horse to move correctly. A good rider is not nearly as much training his horse as himself, both on and off the horse. In fact, while training keep 80% of your focus on you and 20% on your horse. Ask yourself: what can I do, in my body, in my attitude and in the way that I ask my horse to do something, that makes it easier for my horse to understand and to execute?
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!