Helmet Requirements; What Comes Around Goes Around!

There always seems to be some group or other watching out for you and your “best interest”. Laws, regulations, standards, and  conduct becomes governed by someone else’s good idea and decision to protect you. It’s not that safety is a bad idea. We talk about horse safety all the time. The problem is society is infringing in areas formerly considered individual rights. The general public seems to just nod and say, “Well, it sounds reasonable to me” or “We have to protect the children” and accept the latest, greatest safety requirement. The last decade the horse industry has been bombarded with the notion that everyone should wear a helmet.

Our caution to all the do gooders encouraging the use of helmets or to those refusing to take a stand allowing individuals the right to make a few choices in life is, beware! The old adage of what comes around, goes around may come back and bite you. We see more and more blog posts, articles, and industry groups calling for helmets at equine events. Once it becomes an entrenched requirement, it will then move to individual riders. Think not, seat belts and bicycle helmet laws are everywhere. Mandatory requirements for their use subject to fines and penalties.

We issue the warning because horseback riding comes with certain risks, it’s always there. No one ever has complete control over a 1,000 -1,200 lb. animal. So no matter what you legislate, there will still be injuries. As long as there are injuries, there will be more people in the future wanting solve the problem. For example, we know a lot of experienced riders who will say a western saddle is safer than an English saddle. You sit lower in western tack and also have a saddle horn to grab. Safety advocates may one day decide your saddle is no longer safe and require you to stop using your preferred choice of equipment.

Just for grins, and tongue-in-cheek, may be we should prohibit bareback riding. After all, some may assert that no saddle is really dangerous. Since we generally ride western, may be we should promote regulation of all equipment that doesn’t have a saddle horn and stirrups that allow your legs to extend. Maybe we should just ban horseback riding altogether. No riding, no accidents, no injuries and we are all safe!

Wake up America! Every time you go along with the crowd and the current fad that takes away someone’s else’s rights in the name of protecting them, you move one step closer to the front of the line. Before you go jumping on the safety bandwagon, give it a little more thought. It’s still a free country, but things are changing fast. With the Federal government entering heavily into healthcare (regardless of whether you are for it or against it), the reality is the government will say it has a financial stake in everything you do that affects your health. If injuries from certain types of activities increase medical care costs, the easy solution is to ban it.

Think it can’t happen! If you told my grandfather, just two generations back from me, that he couldn’t wear a cowboy hat while riding a horse, he would died three years earlier from not being able to stop laughing.  From a cowboy’s perspective, it would have sounded so incredible that only a fool or a prankster would have said it.  Even as a child riding all the time in Oklahoma, the thought someone would wear a helmet never entered my mind, much less that a bunch of people worried for my well-being might try to make me.

A person’s individual decision as to equipment, dress, and safety should be left to them. End of story!

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