Sunday, December 4, 2011

Horseback Riding Safety

Did you know that most riding accidents do not occur during “dangerous” sports, but while riding for pleasure? And that the most common reason for admission to the hospital among horseback riders is due to a head injury?

A few weeks ago, my 14 year old sister went to the emergency room and ended up staying overnight because she was not wearing her helmet while riding her horse. She was fine at first, but after a little while we could tell that she was not ok. She ended up with a concussion and some short-term memory loss. She could not remember at all what had happened over the last week, and continuously asked the same questions within minutes.

After a 24 hour stay at the hospital for observation she was fine, and she is back to her normal self. But it was a reminder that we always need to wear our helmets while riding, even if it is just a quick ride down the road. 

I am sharing this because many homesteaders dream of having a horse on their farm for pleasure and for work. While I know that wearing a helmet may not be the rough and tumble vision of homesteading you had in mind, it is a very important aspect of owning and riding a horse.  English riders shouldn’t be the only ones willing to protect their brain! Fortunately, this trend has been changing (albeit slowly) in recent years due to the increased public knowledge of the protection offered by helmets.

Choosing a helmet

First of all, never substitute an ASTM approved and SEI certified helmet with a bicycle helmet! The coverage area that a bicycle helmet protects is very different from the areas most commonly injured in horse riding accidents. Riding helmets extend further down the back of the head to protect this very sensitive area of the head. Bicycle helmets are also not as rigorously tested and do not go through the same certification processes as riding helmets.

There are so many choices for helmets nowadays. It really boils down to how much you want to spend and if you are concerned about style. I have bought many helmets over the years and have found that you get what you pay for. I’m not saying that you have to go out and spend $200 on a helmet, just that cheapest is not always the best route. The cheaper ones I have bought tend to fall apart easier, especially after spending the year in a hot barn.

A good, cheap helmet that isn’t going to fall apart after one summer would be the Troxel Sport Schooling Helmet. It's not pretty, but it's only around $25 and has most of the comfort features of Troxel's more expensive models.

After that, basically the sky is the limit as far as how much to spend, but an average range priced helmet that I like is the Troxel Legacy Helmet. What I like most about this helmet, is that it has a fixed visor. Velcro attached visors tend to fall off after a while, so I am willing to splurge for one that isn't going to fall to the ground if I want to go for a gallop. 

When to get a new helmet

As long as you take good care of your helmet, it should last you a good while. It is recommended to replace your helmet every five years, but if you are involved in an accident while wearing it you will want to replace it immediately. The foam inside the helmet will basically collapse when it protects your head in a fall. Troxel also has an accident replacement program, although I am not certain on what their fee is to replace the helmet.

So, remember Every Time, Every Ride and you should be well on your way to keeping your head safe while riding!

This post is linked to the Living Well Blog Hop at Common Sense Homesteading,& Homestead Revival Barn Hop #39

I have not been paid or reimbursed for anything in the writing this article. Simply a satisfied customer.

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  1. I cracked 4 ribs a few years back due to not riding safely... Great blog! :)

  2. That's a great point that not only your head can be injured. Safe riding and handling is necessary overall. I was kicked in the elbow and chipped a bone when I was a kid. It was from being stupid and thinking that the horse could jump the ditch on a 6' lead rope... lol oh well, you live and learn ;)

  3. Great post. My daughter got a concussion while riding her pony. Actually she was just sitting on her pony and was T-boned by another horse and rider, causing her pony to fall over sideways and my daughter to hit her head on the ground. She lost consciousness for a few seconds. Thankfully, she was wearing an approved helmet, which actually got a small flat area on the side where it hit the ground. Helmets are so important. I don't know if she would still be with us if she hadn't been wearing one that day.

  4. That is really scary! I'm glad your daughter is ok!