Friday, June 21, 2013

Arguments Against Wearing a Helmet

June 22nd is International Helmet Awareness Day.


Here are some arguments against wearing a helmet while riding:

"I once heard that one rider got more hurt because they wore a helmet when thrown."
"The focus on helmets takes away from a focus on safe riding skills."
"When I drive my car I don't have to wear a helmet!"
"It paints horseback riding as a dangerous activity."
"It looks dumb, especially when I ride western."
"My horse is too well-trained to act up."
"I'm too good of a rider to need one."
"It discourages people from riding."
"It gives me a headache."
"It messes up my hair."
"It's MY choice."

Every one of these arguments is BULLSHIT. Let me tell you why:

"I once heard that one rider got more hurt because they wore a helmet when thrown."

Yeah, and this guy died when his parachute cords wrapped around his neck. I guess he shouldn't have jumped out of the plane with a parachute, huh?  Freak occurrences aren't valid arguments.

"The focus on helmets takes away from a focus on safe riding skills."

This is an argument for more teaching of safe riding skills, not a good argument against helmets.

"When I drive my car I don't have to wear a helmet!"

If you're stupid enough to make this argument, maybe you should. I foresee accidents in your future.

"It paints horseback riding as a dangerous activity."

It is a dangerous activity.

"It looks dumb, especially when I ride western."

If vanity is your top priority, please continue not to wear a helmet. Doing so may remove you from the gene pool faster.

"My horse is too well-trained to act up."

Are you really prepared to tell me that your horse never has and never will do something unexpected? Please give me the number of your trainer/breeder. I'm eager to purchase one of these super-horses. Also, if you can see the future, what are next week's winning lottery numbers please?

"I'm too good of a rider to need one."

No, you're too arrogant of a rider to want one. Unless, of course, you are perfect, in which case I apologize. I just hope that no other horse or rider or pedestrian ever, ever makes a mistake in your presence that might cause you, through no fault of your own, to get into an accident.

"It discourages some people from riding."

Good. We need fewer irresponsible people on horses.

"It gives me a headache."

 As a migraine sufferer, I sympathize. Now get your helmet's fit checked, pop some pills and quit being a whiner. Plus, think of how much worse your head could hurt without a helmet.


"It messes up my hair."

Who are you, Barbie? See my previous comment about vanity and survival. Also, real horse people are just happy to have relatively manure-free clothing.

"It's MY choice."

This is the argument I hate the worst.  It's an argument of entitlement, and I'm hearing it from more and more Americans who think that "freedom" means "no consequences." These are the types of people that produce six kids with three different daddies, who then turn around and demand that the taxpayers of this country support them.

Listen up, selfish assholes: what you do affects more people than just yourself. If you get hurt or killed, you are not the only one that suffers. What about your parents/spouse/kids/friends/co-workers? Who is going to pay your medical bills? What will happen to your horse? Did any lucky people get to witness your bloody head get strapped into a Medflight harness, and will they have nightmares later? And are you, selfish asshole, going to turn around and sue someone because of this accident?

If you have sat down and spoken with your significant others, and very rationally thought all of this through, then decided not to wear a helmet, that's fine. One of the things that makes America great is that you do have the freedom to decide something, then accept the consequences of your actions. As horse people, we do it all the time: we sacrifice time and money and a certain amount of safety in order to enjoy our horses.

However, if you have simply said "it's MY choice" without thought, with that particular brand of  self-centered arrogance that marks the truly irresponsible, then fuck you. You haven't made a choice, you've simply reacted like a spoiled child who yells, "I don't wanna, and you can't make me!"


Is There Any Time When NOT Wearing a Helmet is OK?

Sure, I guess so.

One issue I haven't touched on yet is shows. At some shows judges deduct points if you wear a helmet. It's idiotic, but true. In an ideal world, we would all boycott these archaic shows, or wear our helmets at them anyway. Realistically, however, those aren't always options. Because of lack of time/money/number of local shows, or because we really like a certain organization, or because we just really want those extra points in our quest for glory, we do without our helmets. It's not great. I don't like it. I wish things were different. But I understand. If you've weighed the pros and cons, done all the training necessary to make yourself as safe as possible, and really want to attend a helmet-less show, go for it. I just encourage you to do one thing: write a letter.

After you attend any event where helmets are discouraged, you should write a letter to the organizers stating your polite disapproval. Eventually, maybe these idiots will stop penalizing folks who just want to protect their brains.

Finally, I'd like to state that I'm not a "helmet Nazi." If you are a responsible adult who has thought about the consequences, and you and your well-trained horse want to go for a leisurely ride on a lazy summer day sans-helmet, go for it. I don't love wearing a helmet. I totally understand wanting to feel unencumbered, free, relaxed. Just do the world a favor: don't justify yourself using the stupid arguments above. There is no need to make excuses, or to put down those who do wear helmets constantly. If anyone asks about your choice, simply say:

"Yes, wearing a helmet would be safer. I don't disagree with wearing one. It's just that today, I'm choosing to accept the possible consequences."

Pics, Statistics and Links

Troxel has an excellent helmet-fitting guide here.

The dressage world is finally getting it. From now on, all USUF events will require helmets.

Are you fashion-conscious? Try a hide-a-helmet. These "hats" don't compromise the safety of helmets, and they come in a variety of styles. You can get one custom made to fit YOUR helmet, in any color of your choice. So far judges seem to like 'em.

 You know, there are alot more options of helmet styles out there than you think. Have you looked around recently? Currently, I even own one that has a built-in gap in the back for my pony tail to stick out of!



 One of the problems with telling people to wear a helmet is that we can't prove how many lives it has saved. You can't prove a negative, you can't count something that doesn't exit. You can't say, "_______ thousand riders would have died without a helmet." However, we can say the following:


These statistics are from Riders4Helmets.com, an excellent website. Riders4Helmets offers helmet-fitting tips, frequent helmet give-aways and lots of personal testimonies from riders who probably would have died without their helmets. One of the most moving testimonies is from Courtney King-Dye.

Courtney King-Dye was an American Olympic-level rider of the highest caliber. While schooling a well-trained, well-behaved horse, the horse tripped and fell. She stayed in the saddle, but because the horse fell, her head hit the ground. She was not wearing a helmet, and suffered a brain injury. She was in a coma for a month. Although she's alive and partially recovered, she says, "I'm still a definite fall risk, can't walk without my cane, can't brush my hair or teeth or eat with Righty (her right hand) and now I talk like a 5 year old." Because Courtney didn't have insurance, she's been forced to pay all her medical bills out of her own pocket. Her really inspiring, brave video is here.


 Again, I'd like to emphasize the horse was not doing anything wrong. "It didn't do anything naughty," Courtney said. "I was just cantering down the long side and he tripped over his own feet and fell."

If an Olympic-level rider on a good horse on can get hurt, you can too. Courtney King-Dye has thrown her support behind the Riders4Helmets campaign, and you should too.














 












1 comment:

  1. Can I "like" this post ... love my brain-bucket. Saved my life numerous times.

    ReplyDelete