Safety with horses means not exceeding your own limitations or the ability of those around you. Nothing else! It’s that plain and that simple. It is not about wearing a helmet or refraining from specific activities deemed dangerous by some watch group or committee. It is understanding your own capabilities and not crossing the line into situations you are unable to handle. We make this point for several reasons. First and foremost because we don’t like to see people get hurt.
Second, because there is a developing movement of organizations and people who want to dictate and impose their “safety” rules on the rest of us. Sadly they lack the skills to feel safe while they ride so they conclude that no one else can either. It’s seems they designate their riding abilities as the epitome of performance and ability. The notion that others can do so safely without complying with their “safety rules” is beyond their comprehension. With proclamations of saving others from harm, they impose standards for all of us. These groups are stealing our freedoms and our rights in the name of “safe riding”.
The helmet movement is a current fad. The “safety elite” have decided that no one can safely ride a horse without this essential safety device. They can’t! So obviously no one can. Ignoring that folks have been riding horses for thousands of years without helmets, it suddenly is essential for everyone to wear one. Generally speaking, in our view a helmet is little more than a false assurance. Strapping on a helmet allows the “experts” to check the box on their “safety list”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that riders wearing helmets also get hurt. Head injuries happen, sometimes even in the shower. Mandatory helmets while bathing???
People also get hurt in stalls with horses. We could ban stalls to avoid these injuries. Horses step on feet and break toes and bones, mandatory steel toes? There is no “magic equipment” or hard-fast rules for safety around or on the back of an animal substantially larger than you. Safety is about paying attention and keeping your activities confined to situations within your ability. By way of illustration, I don’t fall from a horse and allow myself to be dragged with my foot in the stirrup, But, I have seen many horse shows where a rider deliberately fell from the saddle and allowed his leg (usually tied to the saddle with an escape knot) to drag him around the arena. I don’t. It’s beyond my ability. It doesn’t make it unsafe for someone who isn’t saddled by my own limitations.
Can you get hurt riding horses? Absolutely! See the post about a man with broken ribs and a punctured lung who had been riding for over 60 years. Technically, he was riding a mule (we could ban mule riding). The point is there is some inherent risk in horses (and life). Just because someone you know was injured or killed doing something they loved, don’t steal the joy and freedom from others by trying to regulate it. We are genuinely sorry for your pain and understand the hurt. We’ve been there (dead and permanently crippled family from non-horse related accidents). The mandatory safety devices required by the government didn’t keep them alive. Avoid the temptation to “save others” and let people live, not merely exist in your world of “safety”. Life happens, it’s not fun we’ve been there. But, we aren’t dictating to others how to live. If you find yourself wanting to protect the world, do us a favor – Don’t!