Ride Smart and Strap One On! I’m Doing It! – Laurie Powell

Another entry for the February Helmet Story Contest. Please submit your entry no later than February 29th, 2012 (must be a minimum of 500 words AND include a photo) for your chance to win a Riders4Helmets Saddle Pad (your choice of AP, Dressage or Western) and a $50 Equestrian Collections gift certificate. Good Luck!

I have ridden since I was a youngster and my twin brother and I walked each other around on a Shetland Pony my father had rescued from the sales barn, when we were no more than 3 or 4. We graduated to Welsh Ponies, Anglo Arabs, then Thoroughbreds.

I Pony Club’d , show jumped, hunted and did just about everything else you could do on horseback! When we were young, helmets where held on by an elastic strap under your chin, they had no padding and frankly were more for ‘the look’ then any sort of safety, so we didn’t always wear them. I went to a Pony Club Rally in upstate New York and one of our team members had a horrible wreck on the Stadium course, her helmet, held by the elastic strap, came off and her horse accidentally kicked her on its way over her – she ended up with a steel plate in her head, but luckily made a full recovery.  As soon as we got home to Southern Ontario, every parent went and bought their kids the ‘newest’ in safety helmets.  They had a horribly uncomfortable chin strap, and again very little padding, and again I wore one when I ‘had to’. I kept this helmet through most of my adult life – long past its expiration date!

I rode all through my adulthood, trail riding in the mountains, and still hunting with the Calgary Hunt Club, again I would wear my helmet ‘when I had to’ and also tried to wear it whenever I jumped.  In my 40’s I got a thoroughbred again – and he was a bit of a ‘bonehead’ haha, so I decided it was maybe time to upgrade my helmet and bought one of the newer lighter styles – still not the best in class type of helmet – it was not the most comfortable, but I did try to wear it a little more often than just ‘when I had to’.

My next horse was a much better fit – she is a Shire/TB cross and we started eventing, so I did upgrade my helmet to a lovely Charles Owen – wow, so this is how they are supposed to fit! Okay, I started wearing it a bit more, but still mostly only ‘when I had to’ and whenever I jumped. Last year I moved up the eventing ranks to Prelim, the challenge is much greater, I started to rethink the helmet, safety thing.

I have been lucky having come through my riding life unscathed, but that is exactly what it has been – luck!  I started reading about what was happening to people who did not put helmets on because they were just going for a short ride, knew their horse so well, nothing had ever happened before, were a world class rider, were a good rider, no one else was, were in too much of a hurry, forgot it in their car, forgot it in the tack room . . . yes the excuses go on and on.  And something happened . . .  I started to feel guilty if it wasn’t on my head, yes it even started to feel weird to ride without my helmet.

Your campaign has made a convert out of me!

I pledge to always ride with a helmet – I pledge to go back to the car, tack room wherever to get my helmet, I pledge to be the example for others.

Ride Smart and Strap One On!  I’m Doing It!

- Laurie Powell

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