Trust Your Head

Trust Your Head

I’m a helmet advocate.  That being said, when you post pictures riding without a helmet on your blog I’m not going to comment things like WEAR A HELMET YOU GD MORON or YOU DON’T DESERVE TO OWN HORSES IF YOU DON’T WEAR A HELMET!!!

Some people are like that – I’m not.


I recognize it’s a choice, but the choice I make is to do the best I can to protect my head.  My head keeps my husband from having to feed me (except when he cooks dinner on late barn nights… that can continue please) and take care of me.  My head keeps me employed.

Truthfully, I used to not wear a helmet often (before I deeply considered what it would do to my family if I could not work anymore).  My reason was that I trusted my horse. I’ve heard this from other people too, so I know I’m not the only one.


Simon and I have a good partnership, even though it’s early, and I trust him a lot.

I trust him to trip and stumble when the ground is uneven or his feet are due.

I trust him to over jump strange fences that he’s a bit leery of, which may or may not pop me out of the tack enough to go flying out of the saddle.

I trust him to spook if a barn swallow swoops at him, or a horse in a near by pasture abruptly takes off galloping.


I trust him to step on a hollow piece of ground and go somersaulting forward head over heels (this has actually happened to me on a different horse, and yes it was a bad fall).

I trust him to make an abrupt, major leap out of the way if an out of control horse is about to run into us.

I trust him to be a horse and have a mind of his own from time to time.


I trust that accidents happen.

I trust the safety of my head to an approved helmet.

Have you had a fall or situation before where your good trustworthy horse proved that wearing a helmet is a good idea?

41 thoughts on “Trust Your Head

  1. I can think of a few occasions where I ended up in the dirt on ‘safe’ horses, and if that can happen, I shudder to think what could happen on some of the more normal horses I ride!

    I once got a concussion while trail riding Tanner, the bombproof Haflinger featured on my blog. We were cantering down hill and he lost his footing and SLID down the hill on his back. I know this because I saw the marks on the saddle later. I came to in the bushes and could barely see, everything was in black and white. Luckily that pony was a saint and stood there waiting for me and I felt for him, climbed on his back, and walked home. It took 10 minutes for my sight to come back. If this happened while I was wearing a helmet, can you imagine what might have happened without it? Yikes.

    For that reason, I also don’t go on long trails by myself. I was over 2 miles away from the closest human being at the time. *scary!*

    1. I don’t like going trail riding alone either. That sounds really scary, especially about the sight being lost. What a sweet boy for waiting for you though. Can’t imagine what could have happened without a helmet.

  2. You ALWAYS fall off your horse when you’re not expecting it. If you were expecting it, you probably wouldn’t have fallen off ( you know, usually…).

  3. I could sit any Carlos rear or buck. And I could probably get away with not wearing a helmet 99% of the time, that being said, shit happens like the time I flipped him over.

  4. The only time I ever came off my old man was 100% my fault and I was being a moron. We were swimming in the lake, and the water was deep enough for me to just boost myself back up onto his back after splashing in the water with him.

    Well. I boosted too hard…wet me + wet horse = boosting myself up and over the other side of him to face plant into the water.

    He gave me the middle hoof and took off for home…which is the only time he didn’t ground tie perfectly.

    Wasn’t much of a “omg wear your helmet” story, but more of a “horses will humble you if you’re feeling the least bit cocky!” story.

  5. Well stated.
    My helmetless days ended pretty young due to rules of the military base we lived on, but I do remember a time when I was sitting on my pony bareback letting him graze. He of course startled, scooted and off I tumbled. Over the years, I have had a few bad falls, but my helmet took the brunt in most cases.

  6. Haha! This weekend! I always wear a helmet, except the rare occasion when I hop on bareback in the pasture. Duh, the one situation you SHOULD wear one!

  7. It kind of drives me crazy that most trainers don’t wear helmets and the majority of WP riders were cowboy hats. As a kid, we didn’t have helmets (bike or horse) and when I was first considering getting a horse, the first thing I bought was an Aussie cowboy hat. I saw it hanging in the bedroom the other day and told my SO that I hadn’t really thought that one through, because one of the very first things we bought after a halter and lead rope was a helmet. Have too much to live for to go without one.

    1. I feel like the western world is slowly coming around, but it’s going to take a while. One thing I really respect about my former trainer is that she will not allow children to ride without a helmet at her western barn, and she shows world level penning/sorting wearing a helmet 🙂

  8. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before but I grew up riding in 4-H and AQHA and, at least in the 90’s and early 2000s, no one wore a helmet. So I partly didn’t wear one because I wasn’t required to and no one else did. And partly because I had a bomb proof horse. I mean BOMB PROOF.

  9. I am an idiot and pressed ‘post’ before I was done… anyway. You didn’t get any more bomb proof than this horse. In the 11 years I owned him, he did nothing wrong. He was feisty sometimes, but only when he knew I could handle it. If I fell off (my own fault) he’d stop by my side. But for WHATEVER reason, one day when we were trail riding, he took off and WOULD not stop. Granted, today I think I’d know to do a one-rein stop, but then I was 16 and inexperienced and froze up and didn’t know what to do. His saddle started slipping going down a hill, and then he tripped- lights out for me! I had a terrible concussion- out for 20 minutes, throwing up everywhere, hospital visit, home for a week with terrible whiplash. BUT SOMEHOW, no brain damage. I didn’t think much of it then (although I did start wearing a helmet), but reading all of these stories lately of people just falling off at the walk and getting paralyzed/killed has really made me realize how lucky I am. That being said, I ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET.

    So I very much concur. Yes, they are uncomfortable and stupid looking, but my life is worth that! 🙂

    1. Not to mention, the best certified helmet I can afford… The two things I won’t skimp on: my safety vest for xc (I hate the Tipperary vests that are so popular- they’re popular because they’re slim, but in my opinion, they do very little to actually protect you!) and helmet!

  10. I had a bad accident when I wasn’t wearing a helmet right before my 2oth birthday. I continued to show in a hunt cap or cowboy hat, even when I wore my helmet the rest of the time. One day, I realized that several young riders (and a few older ones, too) looked up to me. If I knew about them, how many more might be looking to me as a role model that I don’t even know about? I now show in a helmet, even for western pleasure! I knew I was doing something right when a lot of different people started commenting, “I didn’t recognize you without your helmet on!”
    I was surprised at how good that made me feel. By wearing my helmet every time, every ride, I am making an impact. People notice.
    As a fun side note, I won a western pleasure class on my Arabian, against a bunch of paints and QHs, and under a paint judge. I was the only rider wearing a helmet. Obviously, it didn’t count against my ride!

  11. The only concussion I’ve gotten (so far) was on a completely chill mare that had just gone and ridden through the whole Christmas parade with no problems. And I was wearing a helmet! Honestly, I really don’t understand the whole “I don’t like helmets so I don’t wear them” idea–what, you don’t like having a functional brain? I guess, if you really feel that way…

  12. Hampton once FELL DOWN on me on a trail ride. We were walking. He was not being naughty. He just slipped on a patch of slick mud and down we went. I did not hit my head, but I could have! Accidents happen, even on well behaved horses.

  13. Helmets have never been an option for me. Growing up, Mom had a strict rule: no helmet, no riding. Good thing because I was riding my beloved Jasper in the arena one day- just flat work. All of a sudden, he tripped and fell. I must have hit my head pretty hard because I didn’t know where I was for a minute or two. I’m convinced my helmet saved my life that day.

  14. Sure I’ve had a few accidents with horses. I’ve always worn a helmet and I’m convinced the last time I came off riding Blue “the safest horse in the barn” I would have been toast. It was my first ride in an ambulance and my first real concussion. Not bad after so many years. Oh and we were doing flat work and I was just stopping when he spooked sideways. So you really never know what’s going to happen.

  15. When I arrived in Texas from Woodside CA, people here gave me such a hard time about my helmet! Now two of my Texas riding buddies wear helmets. My hubby and I have a great deal going. I ALWAYS wear my helmet and he NEVER complains about horses or how much they cost to keep or about the truck and trailer or tack and all the other expenses associated with horses. It’s been 30 years and we both love our deal and our two horses.
    I get paid to think on my job so I really need my brain to stay intact. I’ve ducked under trees on trails only to feel a thud on my helmet – I’m so thankful I have my helmet on!

    1. My hubby and I have a similar deal 🙂 He worries about how dangerous it is, and since I also get paid to think… I owe it to him to be as safe as possible when I ride.

  16. Loving this post. I am right there with you with the helmet-advocacy. One of my first posts ever on the ole blog was about helmet safety. Good for you for writing this post.

  17. I’d say the moment my trustworthy horse flipped and landed on me while backing down a valley (of her own free while, despite my protests) landing us on a sheet of ice. Or the time she tried to hit me into a tree. Although, to be honest, I feel very confused if I’m on a horse and I don’t have a helmet. My body naturally doesn’t let me do anything helmetless – it’s like driving sans seatbelt. WHY?

  18. I grew up never wearing a helmet. I had lessons for years and never even saw a helmet. When I started riding at a new barn, I was pretty put out that I had to wear one, haha. But I quickly got used to it. For YEARS I always ALWAYS rode with a helmet, no exceptions. Then I met a guy who rode cutting horses and we rode every single day together. Absolutely no one wore a helmet, so I didn’t either (back then I wasn’t nearly as independent as I am now!!), just to fit in. So for years, no helmet for me. Then I moved to Raleigh and got involved with the IHSA team and obviously helmets were required, so I got back into the habit. Now that I only ride at home, I don’t always ride with a helmet. I know I SHOULD and its an extremely smart idea, I’m just too lazy I guess. But I need to set a good example for my daughter. She won’t want to wear a helmet if Mama doesn’t, huh?

  19. I’m a better safe then sorry type person.. I had my time that I didn’t wear one when I was riding primarily western and just hacking on the flat- stupid now when I look back.

  20. Love this post. I often see people saying “well, it should be the rider’s choice!” But people with that attitude, I don’t think they understand how they affect everyone else if they are disabled. People having to feed you, bathe you, toilet you, etc. It gets old real quick. Depending on where injuries are, memory loss and retardation. So when people say it should be their choice, I wonder if their family agrees with the possibility of leaving their job for doctor appointments, surgeries, extra medical expenses, etc? It’s not fair to others.

  21. One of my silliest falls came when I was helping to mark trail for a competitive trail ride. This is where you go down the trail and stop every so often to tie a colored, plastic ribbon in the trees on the side of the trail so people won’t get lost. (I once got lost on a trail I helped mark, though, so maybe I wasn’t the best qualified for this job, haha!) Anyways, I was in the middle of tying a ribbon that I really had to reach for b/c the lowest branch was still almost an arms length above my head. I was so close to finishing the tie when Ghazal decided to start walking off. I kept saying to myself almost got it, almost got it, almost got it when *bam* I fell of the back of my horse. Literally I fell of the back end of my horse while my horse was walking, very slowly I might add. I had quite the headache afterwards, too even with my helmet on. It was dumb, dumb, dumb but also not something I would have foreseen.

  22. Accidents can happen with any horse and any rider at any time. As much as we all love to feel the wind through our hair, it’s not worth it to risk your safety 🙂

  23. I would love to ride without a helmet. How fun would that be, cantering away into the sunset?!
    But I could never do that to my family. Because with my luck, the day I ride without one is the day I fall on my head. In the last 4 years that I’ve been riding, I’ve come off 8 times. Only the first time I tagged my head just a bit on the arena wall because my horse turned but my body didn’t. Yay for out with the Troxel, in with the Charles Owen! All my other falls were on my current horse, and every single one, my head didn’t touch the ground – not even close (always my poor right hip!). So odds are in my favor for no head-ringers. But I’m not taking any chances. No way.

  24. Although I’d love to feel the breeze in my hair, I know that the only thing you can count on with horses is that they are unpredictable.

    When I was about 15, I was riding in a lesson jumping some pretty big fences — 3’9″ or so. I was not wearing a helmet and the trainer I was lessoning with didn’t insist. My regular trainer came down and saw me and insisted I put on a helmet before I jumped another fence. I did and the next fence I jumped, my horse landed and went down on his knees.

    I have never gotten on a horse without a helmet again. I feel like I narrowly dodged a serious accident that could have had life long consequences. I’m 53 now and if I could go back and talk to my teen-aged self, I’d definitely give her the helmet lecture!

  25. I’ve always been a big fan of wearing helmets, and never really understood how people could hop on with out one – don’t they feel naked? I mean we wear seat belts, helmets for motorcycles – and those things don’t have minds of their own, and much less likely to stumble. But what really kills me, is when people who are role models to the younger riders don’t set a positive example by wearing their helmets – especially trainers.

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