Horse Riding Helmets – Yes Or No
As an instructor, do you insist that all beginner riders have approved helmets when they ride?
We have all heard riders complain that helmets are too hot, too uncomfortable, and don’t give the protection that they are supposed to.
Riders may also say that helmets are for jumping or dangerous activities and even that they don’t plan to fall off!
Some may even say that as they are over 18 and legally an adult, they don’t want to wear a helmet and that it is their choice.
But remember that the primary purpose of a helmet is to safeguard the rider’s head against potential injuries in the event of a fall or impact.
Head injuries can be severe and life-altering, making the protection offered by helmets critical and a property-fitted helmet provides a cushioning barrier that absorbs and disperses the force of an impact, reducing the risk of head trauma.
Let’s look at the scientific research. In a Queensland University Research Project of 187 riders, they found that traumatic brain injury was the most common injury sustained from falls from horses, and riders who wore helmets had significantly less severe traumatic brain injuries and shorter stays in hospital compared with those who did not.
That is just one of the many research projects that examined accidents with horses and came to the conclusion that helmets should be worn.
Many competitions and also occupations within the horse industry have made helmets mandatory and almost all states and territories in Australia have legislated that new and beginner horse riders are to wear helmets.
I haven’t found any research that shows helmets for horse riding are not effective, but if you know of any, please let me know.
Your role as an instructor (whether you are paid or not) puts you in the position of being ‘the expert’ and having a duty of care to your riders.
Social influence can encourage many riders to wear helmets, so if you and all your students wear helmets then it becomes ‘normal’ and when a new rider comes to you for lessons, they are more likely to wear a helmet without the excuses they have previously had.
Many riders also admit that they feel safer because they have a helmet on so they can focus on their lessons and the enjoyment they feel from horse riding.
So avoid the risk. Make sure you provide correctly fitting helmets for your riders, as an instructor you have a duty of care to keep your students safe.
Yes, you will need a variety of sizes, but these are a cost of doing business and can be used by multiple individual riders within the same day or the same week and you can allocate this cost over several years.
So let’s celebrate the bond between horse and rider without compromising safety.
Make the use of helmets for you and your students a non-negotiable element of responsible riding and responsible teaching.
That way we can all enjoy the magic of riding horses for many years.
Have a safe ride!
International Horse College