Keep Calm and Wear Your Helmet!

Last summer, I wrote a blog entry about making sure that your college list contained safety schools and compared it to the logic of making the choice to wear your safety helmet so that you can be prepared for any eventuality when you’re on your horse.  While I stand behind that blog post (always have safety schools in your back pocket, students!), today’s blog entry is going detour from safety schools and simply speak about the importance of wearing your safety helmet.

In the wake of Courtney King-Dye’s freak riding accident in 2010, the Riders 4 Helmets organization has campaigned tirelessly in an effort to get every rider to wear a helmet every time they swing into the saddle.  Courtney was not wearing a helmet at the time of her accident and the fact that an Olympic-caliber rider (one of our nation’s best) could be injured in a simple accident at low speed helped not only promote the efforts of Riders 4 Helmets, but also prompted a fairly recent change in the USDF rulebook that requires that all riders wear helmets at all levels at national-level shows.  (CDIs are still an exception and top hats are permitted.)

Last week, the extent and success of helmet promotion was proven when Silva Martin, FEI dressage trainer and wife of Olympic three-day eventer Boyd Martin, suffered an eerily similar fall to Courtney King-Dye.  The difference?  Silva was wearing her helmet at the time and, though she suffered a severe concussion and was flown by helicopter to the hospital, her prognosis is good, despite a recent regression.

I think the moral of the story here is quite clear.

Students, you’ve spent more than half of your young lives in school, filling your brains with not only academic knowledge, but also life knowledge.  You’ve acquired unique talents and abilities.  You’ve learned to drive cars, speak not only the English language but maybe one or two others, and you’ve spent countless hours in the saddle perfecting your form over fences, your rollbacks and spins, or your tempi changes.  But if you’re not careful each and every time you ride, it could all be gone in a split second – as could your life.

I know that you’re smart kids.  You’re thinking about college and planning for your next steps in life.  In order to ensure your success, make sure that one part of that plan includes wearing your ASTM-SEI approved helmet every time you ride.  No matter what horse you’re sitting on, no matter what discipline you ride, and no matter what your training plan for the day, wear your helmet.

(And if you need help with that college plan, contact me.)

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