Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WEAR YOUR DAMN HELMET (or Why Allison Springer is AWEEESOME!)

Yes, I cussed, and no, I did not feel the need to edit it out for the younger crowd who reads this blog.

I feel pretty strongly about it.

I feel more strongly about it now than ever before.

Before I go any further, I'll put it out there that yes, if you're over the age of 18, you can make your own decisions (stupid or otherwise) and I will NOT badger (most) of you to wear your helmet if you choose not to. Generally, I will speak my piece and then leave it alone. If you're under 18 or you have a kid that is under 18, they need to have a helmet on their head when mounted. Every ride, every time.

Yeah, I went through a stage when I turned 18 and didn't wear a helmet unless I was jumping or riding something stupid until I was about 22. I spend WAY TOO MUCH time with my butt on 1200 lbs of thinking, breathing, fear-activated, flight-response, prone to spook at different colored grass horse-flesh to NOT have a helmet on my head whenever mounted.

Yes, I had some incredible falls while not wearing a helmet, and (while debatable) am still of sound mind and body, but that doesn't mean I'd like to repeat them. I've had one concussion. That was enough.

I've quit riding my horse up from the pasture- I lead him now- because I never rode up with a helmet on. I rode down the road, up the driveway. Bareback. Halter and lead. Sure, it doesn't really bother me to ride my horse bareback with a halter, but one SLIP, even, and who knows what could have happened. I like my brain where it is, thankyouverymuch.

Today I even tightened my chin strap and slid the little plastic slidey things under my ears so my helmet was appropriately attached to my head and not liable to slide back if I have an unexpected flight.

You should too.

In fact, I expect all of my friends who fancy themselves a horse person- ESPECIALLY those who consider themselves horse PROFESSIONALS- and even MORE SO the ones who are looked at as an example by kids- to wear a helmet when mounted. It just makes sense, guys.

So, why post about it now??

Well, as you know, Rolex was this past weekend. It. Was. Great.

I will likely blog about it later and do a photo-dump of the pics I grabbed.

One of the most exciting things that happened before I headed up to Lexington was reading this headline on a thread on COTH:

Helmet worn in Rolex dressage!

Most FEI-level riders wear a top hat and tail to do dressage:

It's beautiful. It's elegant. It's graceful. It's tradition. 

This year, though, one woman changed her look.

Allison Springer wore her helmet. And looked gorgeous, I might add. 

This came on the heels of Olympic dressage rider Courtney King-Dye having a horrible fall. She was schooling- DRESSAGE- at home, not jumping, people. Trotting around. Her horse got tangled up in his own feet, they both fell and she was in a coma for nearly a month because of it. She was NOT wearing her helmet. She is currently on the road to recovery, but having issues with things like fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are kind of a big deal for a rider. Any person, really. 

So anyway, Allison wore her helmet for personal reasons. (Kudos, girlfriend.) Watch the first minute and a half of this video. Really, watch it. 

Unbeknownst to Allison, this is a heavily discussed subject on my favorite horse forum, COTH. Back in January, an awesome lady named Lynn (aka Deltawave) ponied up a $500 pledge for the rider who trotted down centerline at Rolex in an approved helmet. I had the pleasure of meeting Deltawave at the COTH get-together Friday night at Rolex and she is not only a COTH icon, but a really NEAT person. So, DW contacted Allison to reward her and found out that not only did Allison have NO IDEA that this was going on, but then requested the money be sent to Courtney King-Dye for her recovery fund. There is a collection being taken up to add to DW's $500 to send on to Courtney.

In summary:

Allison Springer is Class Act. 

All. The. Way.




  1. I think it is even more impressive that Jacqueline Brooks of Canada is now showing in international Grand Prix dressage classes with her helmet after what happened to Courtney. She looks like she will probably make the WEG team (I hope!) so hopefully there will be 1 dressage rider at WEG showing in a helmet instead of a top hat. I love that Allison rode in her helmet at Rolex but I think Jacqueline's statement is even bigger - at least eventers already have to wear helmets in two other phases. However I am proud of both of them and hope more riders follow their brave lead.

  2. Love this. Even though, I must admit--I have NEVER worn a helmet whilst horseback riding. Clearly I am straight-up un-trained western cowgirl because I'm lucky if I wear any hat at all while riding! Ironically enough, I am a safety stickler though...Not sure how I negated the importance of the helmet whilst on horses because I wear one on a 4-wheeler, on a bike (sometimes...), and on a motorcycle!

  3. After having my horse fall on me Jan. 16th of this year (the first time in over 30+ years of riding I have ever had THAT happen)and suffering a crushed leg, my thought as my head hit the ground was "good thing I have my helmet on!" Admittedly, as I used my free leg to push my horse off of me, and whilst looking at my crushed leg imbedded in the soft ground I was hoping it would turn out to be just a bad sprain (well, a girl can always hope, right?) Deep down I knew the injury was serious. But, I was alert and oriented and able to scream for help....yes,I was riding alone, without my cell phone and no one knew which field I was in. Yes, incredibly stupid on my part and something I will NEVER do again....once I relearn how to walk again and am cleared to ride. But I am so glad I had my helmet on and attribute it to keeping my injuries from being worse than they were. And I am a fledgling dressage rider whose horse simply slipped and fell. Accidents can happen in ANY discipline, no matter what your skill level is. Thank you Lauren for this blog!