Aug 11, 2010

Every Time, Every Ride

My son probably might have observed that I wasn't wearing my helmet in the picture on the previous post. Once while in Wyoming, I tried to get away with not wearing it and he caught me. On that day, I had a terrible headache and didn't want anything on my head. With our eyes locked, he unbuckled his helmet as if to say "if you don't wear it, I'm not," so instead I told him to fetch my hard hat. Extreme heat has been another excuse; the brim of a straw hat keeps more sun off my face. But yes, these are just excuses. I was reminded a few weeks ago at our county parade how quickly accidents happen. Before it started, Windy spooked a mule team. I got her stopped and dismounted quickly to get control from the ground. Before I had my footing, she spun around and slammed into me, knocking me to the white rocked ground, not only under her, but Butter, as well. Those hooves are pretty scary up close and personal. I need to remind myself every time, every ride why I wear a helmet.

Today, Janet Caul of Cross C Equine services sent the following note to our Horsetales list serv. It was very powerful and timely. Janet has given permission for me to share her thoughts with you.

Janet's message was titled Heavy Heart Today and it read:

Every Time, Every Ride. That is the title to an informative, educational video about helmet wearing in the equestrian world. Unfortunately, not enough people know about this video, nor would they consider wearing a helmet when horseback riding. Whatever your reason for not wearing one, it's not good enough.

"It's not what real cowboys/cowgirls do." Really? You may end up not being either without a helmet.

"I'll get hat hair." It's better to have hat hair than no hair from brain surgery.

"It's uncomfortable." It's better to be a little uncomfortable for an hour or two, than being paralyzed in an uncomfortable wheel chair the rest of your life.

"I love the feel of the wind in my hair," "I love the feel of the openness." If you have a head injury you may never feel the openness or wind again.

"It doesn't look good." Riding is not about fashion...

I could go on and on with the reasons/excuses why people decide not to wear a helmet. Oh, I know, "I would NEVER let my kids ride without a helmet." But what about YOU? Aren't YOU worth it? Do you want your kids growing up without you? Do you want to be that kind of example? Oh, and don't think that "just this once" an accident can't happen. Every time you get on any horse you should wear your helmet.

"They're too expensive." Hospital bills are too expensive!

No one is exempt from an accident when riding, no matter how well trained your horse is nor how good of a rider you might think you are.

My heart is heavy as I write this. A young man, with a wife and 2 small children, chose to ride a horse without a helmet. He is now fighting for his life with a massive brain injury. He may never recover, and if he does, he will NEVER be the same. The pain and suffering is indescribable and almost unbearable for those who love him.

I'm equally angry. I'm convinced that if he had been wearing a helmet, his injuries would not have been the same, especially his brain injury. Even if God so chooses to heal him, will he think about wearing a helmet the next time he mounts his horse? Will his extended family and friends think about wearing a helmet? Will his place of employment require helmets from now on, for EVERYONE, not just the kids?

I will continue to pray for this young family daily, hourly, and by the minute. I also hope that somehow, safety while riding horses, especially wearing helmets, will become their ministry.

I also pray that if one person is changed by all of this, it was worth the pain and suffering they've endured. OR, was it?

Thanks, Janet, for the timely reminder. (And looking at the picture above, I can tell you that is NOT how you should wear a helmet. It really needs to be tighter under my chin.)



  1. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Modern helmets are light and pretty darn comfortable. They may not prevent every injury or loss of life, but they sure prevent many. Very important stuff for us all to remember.

  2. I agree with everything that is said, with regard to wearing a helmet!...

    But!..Heres the reason I do not wear one.
    I choose not to ear a helmet because, I do not want too.
    I was brought up in the time of motorcycles, real bikes! No helmets and nor restrictions.
    However, I have seen the effects on a person who has nor worn a helmet, I have seen the brains scattered for yards across the road, seen the devastation it causes to family.

    But. .........I chosse not to wear a helmet, because I do not want to. No reason, I just dont wear one, its easier, feels freer, and I feel better, it is my choice, never mind who I leave behind, its me, I choose, who are they to dictate what I do?

  3. I wear a helmet, every time! I used to not, until my girls got involved in 4-H, 15 years ago, I now have had brain surgery, not doue to an acciedent but a tumor, and I must wear it now because of the hole in the back of my head.
    The girls and I have always been our checks and balances "wheres your helmet??" if one of us forgot, we would hold the horse while the other went and got a helmet. I dont need another brain injury.

  4. Great post! A nice reminder.
    I WILL ALWAYS wear my helmet!! AND I'm even looking forward to getting a new one! (They really have some nice ones now!) :D
    I started wearing a helmet after my sister nearly lost her life after a fall from her horse.
    13 days in a coma (from a blood clot on her brain) & almost being left paralyzed, scared me enough to realize it was not worth taking any chance 'not' to wear one!

  5. I appreciate everyone's comments & like Cheyenne said, it truly is a choice for each rider. I started wearing my helmet after an accident that didn't involve the head, but could have. And I realized how vulnerable my kids were to injuries such as the one I had. And if I was going to enforce it with them, I needed to set an example.

    I had a friend who died of breast cancer and left behind 4 kids. That was her biggest worry about dying. Not death itself, but leaving her kids. Janet's post about this young father really hit home with me today, so I thought I'd share. Not preach, just share. And recommit myself as well.

  6. Nice though some so sad reminders..those links.

    Though it is a personal choice for all...Ego/ ignorance is involved sometimes I think for not doing so. So many choose not to, and sometimes it is a large case of that ere mentioned or pressure from without. one go writing me about that..I think it, I get to, so give me a break!
    I have ridden with so many that have told such amazing stories of why they chose not to wear a helmet...mostly pressure and won't happen to me!

    I pray hard for you/them...that it does not happen to you...leaving behind someone would be the lesser painful thing -that could happen.

    Woo..did not know I had all that in me!
    Well, I really am not judging anyone but I do think it wiser to wear...hitting the ground is not all that can happen...I hit trees sometimes, with all my gallivants!

  7. When I had my accident two years ago, I fell into a pile of rocks and if I hadn't been wearing my helmet I am positive I would of been hurt a lot worse than just having a severly bruised hip. I couldn't even remember who our president was when they asked me after i fell!

  8. Yep yep and yep. I hear ya. Excellent post.
    Also, get creative with your helmets. Put funny stickers on there. I'm currently searching for the right pair of horns to glue to one of my helmets (for when I REALLY want to embarrass my child in public, lol)
    So many reasons to wear one. I too, didn't learn until I had that accident. Trust me, I would much rather have spent the evening at home, rather than semi-naked in a hospital room having some strange doctor staple my head back together.
    I'm with Tammy too, you have to set an example. In our Saddle Club, I'm the ONLY adult who wears a helmet, and my child is one of the handful of kids who does.
    And roping, omg, I've never seen anyone wear a helmet while roping. Except me. And I fully intend to keep doing it. I generally come across as someone you wouldn't make fun of for it. (being that I will reach out and smack a person in the head and say "see, if you had a helmet on that wouldn't have hurt")

    Oddly enough, only one person has dared to say anything to me about it, and she's allowed to tease me unmercifully :) I can take it!!!

    It's everyone's personal choice, but for me, (who has a habit of landing on her head lately) I think I want to be alive to see my kiddo grow up. There's more good times to be had!

  9. Helmets are hot! Helmets are uncomfortable! Helmets don't look cool and they mess up my hair.

    Lack of a helmet put my daughter in a medivac helicopter and then in the hospital in a coma with her skull fractured and possible neck injuries.

    I can tell you as I sat in the hospital waiting room with the chaplin, I thought that if they came in and told me that she had died, I would not be able to go on breathing.

    Do you know when they bring your loved one to the hospital in a helicopter, they put you in your own private waiting room all alone with the chaplin? They don't even tell you if they are still alive.

    I always insisted that she wear her helmet every time.... except that time.

    I thank God every day that she has no lasting effects but even after 10 years, this discussion brings tears to my eyes and takes me right back to that waiting room. I can still feel the fear that my carelessness had killed my daughter.

    Do you know that I still don't always wear my helmet? I try but I dont. They are hot, uncomfortable and oh, so necessary.

  10. I've always worn a helmet and so have my kids. I think that anyone who doesn't want to wear one should of course have that option, but I still think it's so much safer to protect yourself when possible.

    My biggest concern is that I see on many blogs very young children riding in rodeos and such without anything but a cowboy hat. I hope they never have an accident because most injuries can be prevented by simply wearing the helmets. I'd really like to see a law protecting the children, because I think they don't know any better at their ages. Unfortunately, their parents do and choose to ignore the devastation a head injury could cause their children for the rest of their lives.

    I believe it was last year that I did a few posts on wearing helmets. I had one person disagree with me so much that we sort of got into it, I probably shouldn't have, but it just gets me so mad when people disregard the facts.


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