That brings me to a subject very near to my own life - wearing a helmet while riding. As many of you know, my dad had a fall in the 80's and broke his neck. Thankfully he survived but that is entirely due to the quick actions of those around him and the fact he was wearing a top of the line (for that time) skull cap. He was a competitive jumper and eventer in his day and had always maintained that since he had a family and a full time job to go to on Monday morning, a helmet would be a standard part of his wardrobe for each and every ride. Other competitors often made fun of him and my mother for wearing a helmet in all situations with our breeding stallions and youngstock. The comments ranged from "your horses must be dangerous" to "you all are chicken and afraid of your horses" - especially for the stallion advertising photographs and videos. Mom always was thinking of responsibility to not only her family but her obligations here as the farm manager, so it was never an option to "go without." Dressage has been one of the last hold outs for making a helmet an acceptable option for the uppermost levels but it is no less dangerous to ride "only" on the flat.
Thankfully that ignorant machismo attitude has faded with time for the most part. Helmets are appearing in all sorts of styles - from the very conservative matte plastic shell to more elaborate and decorative Swarovski crystals lining the seams or even having patriotic shells with your home country's flag!
At this year's Dressage At Devon I was browsing for some new breeches at a good price and visited the Skylands Saddlery booth. They had a lovely display of the new arrivals from the One K Helmet company. Now having never heard of this company (long time GPA wearer), I halfheartedly listened to the spiel that was coming out of the rep's lips. But then she said something that really caught my attention - they were/are a motorcycle helmet manufacturer that has branched out into the horse world. (brace yourself for the inner dialogue) So I lurked behind a clothing rack and listened for a bit...
Self: "Motorcycle helmets? Wow. Those guys are nuts. They go FAST and pavement is totally not forgiving. Hmmmm..."
One K rep: "Now you can remove the liner, wash it and it is easy to replace when/if it wears out!"
Self: "Holy Moly. Your GPA STINKS and is absolutely disgusting to put on each and every day with the grime and dust that has worked into the liner. Remember last week when you were scrubbing at it with that rag - it was all nasty and gooey after a few swipes. Vile!!! Go over and at least try one on NOW! You know that nasty thing hits its expiration on the first of October! GO!"
So after having been shamed so thoroughly by my Self, I did go try on the Defender helmet and was pleasantly surprised how much more comfortable it is than my GPA. The profile is much lower and it fits my peanut-sized head more comfortably. The pressure headache in the center of my forehead (a classic GPA complaint) was gone...and it FIT! There are more vents in the helmet, the interior is more form fitting and I feel more secure with it one than I do in my GPA. (sorry GPA)
|The newest offering from One K|
This is the new line with the crystals. It is SHINY! :) I do want one. Someday!
In the meantime, I am strongly recommending to all my friends and associates PLEASE check your helmet for the expiration date. If you can not find it - count backwards and if it is more than 5 years old (so 2007), it is time to replace your helmet. If you do not wear a helmet, please make sure you are sitting on several million dollars as your post head injury aftercare will be pricey if you survive a TBI and blow to the skull. I do not care if it is a $50 Troxel or a $700 GPA...check the date. Do the right thing and make sure you are protecting yourself, your family and loved ones. It is the least you can do as the sport we all participate in can have deadly consequences even on or around the most reliable of equines.
Oh and if you think I'm over the top dramatic on this subject - CHECK OUT what the FEI has to say about it. And the USEF.