In which Patty is a headbanger, and there's glitter on the trail now

Coincidentally, I was sorting through some old stacks of Endurance News magazines a few days ago, and found a helmet-safety article I'd written for the January 2007 issue, entitled "Confessions of a former head-banger."

(Troy is the editor at EN, and she loves a catchy title, can you tell?)

This photo was taken about 2 minutes before the fun started

Then on Sunday, who do you s'pose came up positive on the gravity test...


...and got to walk back to the trailhead?

Patty practices tailing up a hill.
Because, why waste a perfectly good training opportunity?

There's been a bit of helmet chatter on the 'web lately, following the tragic death of a rider at an endurance event.  The woman was riding fast, her pony's foot hit a hole, and she hit the ground hard.  The helmet didn't save her.

Because even a really good helmet can't save everyone from everything, unfortunately.

Some of the helmet-bling is now permanently part of the trail

But here's the thing:  just because sunscreen won't protect you from colon cancer, do you go outside without it?  (Not if you're a pale-skinned Swamplander, you don't!).

And just because wearing a seatbelt won't save you if a tree falls on the car as you drive down the highway, do you leave off the belt?  (It sounds unlikely, but three people in our area died that way last winter.)

The un-damaged side of the helmet

I talked to a nice lady at the trailhead a few weeks ago, who always wears a helmet, except on this horse (she nodded at the sweet little Rocky Mountain gelding standing quietly at the trailer) on these trails, "because we only walk out here, no fast stuff."

Well, Patty and Flower were walking, with the group, on a mostly-flat road when Flower stumbled (a baby-horse thing), and Patty did an elegant triple-somersault and coasted to a graceful stop in the weeds.

She banged up her shoulder, she strained some muscles in her neck, and...well, let's take another look at that helmet, shall we?

Could be worse.  Could be her brains.


That looks pretty awesome on plastic.  Would look much less awesome on somebody's head.

So please, y'all:  Every ride.  Every time.

Here's a poem from that 2007 article:

Don't wanna wear a helmet because
You think your hair is
More important than your brain?
You're probably right.


  1. Yep... I always get the stares and odd looks, especially when I take the horses to Ocean Shores....I look at it this way... *I* am setting the example, rule law my kids...We ride, we wear a helmet..... I would also perfer they helmet up while grooming/tacking up...after witnessing one woman's endurance horse ring her bell on the ground...Quite the sickening sound that is!!!!

  2. Yep, agreed... I get the stares and the sneers...especially when I go to Ocean Shores and we ride past the "rental" horses....But... *I* am the one setting the example to my kids, that it is a rule, law etc for riding my horses.... and I am working on on ground wear as well....after witnessing one endurance rider get her bell rung by her horse....It was a sickening sound.....

  3. Helmets don't save everybody, but they save lots of people - from death, serious injury or long-term disability - including me back in the summer of 2011. My helmet had a 4-inch crack in it from the impact, and I still spent 5 days in the hospital, some of that time in intensive care. I made a full recovery, and I can't imagine how devastating my injuries would have been if I hadn't been wearing the helmet.

    Love the poem . . .

  4. I too am pretty sure a helmet saved my life when I first started riding, and so I wear one every time on a horse, no matter how much of a bond we have or how slow I plan on going. It's when you end up going unexpectedly fast at the ground or into a tree/fence/etc. that it matters most! The helmet I was wearing was a plain black Troxel schooling one, I got going a bit to fast on a OTTB gelding who switched over the racing mode while we were riding in the field and he headed increasing steadily into a gallop at a series of dividing fences (railroad tie posts with no-climb wire fencing and hotwire) and he realized that even with that running head start he wouldn't be able to make a good landing in between the different distances, so he put on the brakes, and I went over his shoulder headfirst into the wire mesh. It left an even deeper and swirled mark on the helmet where the wire dug into it as I fell twisting to take the brunt of it on my side/back. I blacked out for a few seconds and came too in time to see my friend cantering over to me on the little black pony she was riding, to check if I was alright. I'm just glad I hadn't hit the post another 6-8" from where my head hit! I ended up with a headache and some bruises, but was a teenager at the time and bounced back quickly.

  5. Oh yes... helmet saved my life too a few years back. Big crack right up the back of the helmet. The doc in the ER looked at it silently for a moment then solemnly pronounced "that helmet died for you".


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