My last post drew the question (from Suzanne):
"One thing... why no helmet? I've been curious about that given your safety concerns..and working with a young horse. Curious..."I don't honestly have any reason--let alone a compelling argument--as to why I don't wear a helmet. I used to when I rode my bicycle to commute. I don't have any vanity issues--trust me, vanity is hard to come by when there is always horse snot on your shirt.
My flip response is, "I never land on my head," which is true but not the real answer. (I really need to be wrapped in bubble wrap, if we get right down to it.) The other not-so-flip part of my answer is that Christopher Reeves was wearing a helmet and it didn't prevent the injury that changed his life forever.
Steve, who has had a concussion, still doesn't wear a helmet. He hates things on his head, always has. I don't have that excuse and you'll see me with a hat on more often than not.
So why don't I wear a helmet?
I don't really know.
Since I don't know, I'm going to try a helmet-wearing experiment this week and see what I find out.
Will it change the way I ride? Will it annoy me? Will it do absolutely nothing except keep my noggin a little safer should my horse do anything odd? (Which, by the way, he has not done since our accident in April of last year when I broke my butt.)
There are certain things that, were I doing them, a helmet would be worn--jumping (I'd like to) and eventing (not likely) among them. But it is my right to choose--my head, my decision--helmet police be damned.
|Yep, here I am, without a helmet.|
I am not including Suzanne in their numbers AT ALL. Her comment--based on the history she has followed for quite some time--is exceedingly valid and she's given me a lot to think about and consider for which I thank her. I'm talking about the folks who are compelled to comment on every. single. picture. of riders without helmets. Stoppit already.
Could a helmet prevent a concussion or other traumatic brain injury? Yes. Can it prevent other catastrophic injuries like paralysis? No.
The best prevention is staying on the horse--something I continue to improve on--and learning to fall. All things considered, I fall pretty well. Broken arm and butt, but no head so far--knock wood.
I don't know (yet) if I'm making the right decision, so I'm willing to experiment with noggin-coverage to see how I feel about it. But in the end, it is my risk, my choice. Steve and Katie--those who would be most affected--respect my decision and we've had the appropriate discussions about all the "what ifs" that could be.
Gabrielle Giffords surely did not expect to rebuild her entire life--from motor skills to speech--but she is doing it with an amazing determination. I at least know and understand the risk I take, each and every time I get on that horse, and I accept what it could mean. She had no warning, none, and yet she survived and continues to improve.
Life is short. Life is unpredictable. I drive a tiny convertible because I love the sun on my shoulders and the wind in my hair but I also wear a seat belt.
I don't know where the horse-helmet-safety balance is, yet, but I do know I have accepted all the risks. Or at very least accepted that despite my best efforts, I can't always control every nuance of the universe.
The journey is the journey, no matter what path it takes.