More than 20 years ago showing hunter on my other horse, we only wore our helmets when we started over fences in the lessons, or when we were mounted on show grounds. That all changed when I started riding with an ER/ICU nurse and training for limited distance endurance 10 years ago: I never got on without my helmet after hearing her stories about head injuries in the hospital. Likewise, my husband doesn’t mount any of his bicycles without a helmet, whether commuting on the street, riding backcountry roads, or dirt trails.
The barn where I previously boarded had an adult rider helmet-optional rule when not jumping. The current barn where I board requires helmets for all riders when mounted. We all think this is a “no-brainer.” I have two helmets: one in the tack room at the barn and one in the trailer so I “don’t leave home without it.”
I have included here two photos. One is with my husband, Ken on mountain bike “Eduardo” and me on Mustang Oreo on Two Quarry Trail in Annadel State Park, demonstrating great multi-user relationship on the trails in this park. The other is on Canyon Trail in the same park, while on patrol for the CA State Parks Mounted Assistance Unit the day we accomplished our 1,000 hours of volunteer patrol for this unit in 2010. Oreo and I also provide volunteer patrol for Sonoma County Regional Parks Mounted Assistance Unit.
Over the past 9 years Oreo and I have clocked thousands of miles on the trails in Sonoma County and Northern CA. Within our first 6 months we had a scary solo accident which left me with a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder, Oreo with severely abraded knees and skinned face. I had my cell phone, helmet, first aid kit, and I tried to organize my own emergency situation. My helmet didn’t come off till I got to the ambulance, even being transported in the ranger truck. I hadn’t hit my head, the helmet was fine, but it also wasn’t going to get lost in the shuffle. We recovered to compete the next LD endurance season and take Best Condition.
As well as I know my Oreo as a partner, he is still a horse. He will always be a Mustang, a prey animal, a flight animal. He can always have a “moment.” That moment will always be with my helmet on my head.