Have you ever been riding along and at some point realized that you had zoned out and don’t recall the last 5, 10 minutes?
Or if you’re like me, have even occasionally caught yourself being complacent….
Or even thinking “I have so much experience, riding is second nature….”
And then the next thing you know, your horse spooks and knocks you on your bum, while your mind was on other things…?
Situations like that can result in a minor tumble, or worst-case, a major crash. Falling from a 1100 lbs horse and hitting your head can have disastrous results.
This is why – during National Safety Month – our blog topic is “Concussions, head Injuries and prevention strategies”
As a young girl many many years ago, I was taught to ride by being packed on a pony…. my coach’s words still ring in my ears: ‘when you come off, dust off and get back on!’ (Provided my pony was still at the other end of my makeshift reins and didn’t decide to run home without me….)
I just can imagine many of you nodding your heads and laughing about good old times and yup, some of you probably had same experiences as I did… some luckier than others.
Once I grew older and began taking “real” riding lessons at an Equestrian Center back home in Germany, my Instructor gave me a list of requirements before signing up, which included:
- Riding Helmet
- Proper Boots above ankle or higher
- Protective Vest (Optional for Students)
My heart dropped and I thought OMG, how do I ever afford all that? I was just a teenager. And, like most kids that age, I also thought, “I’ll probably look silly….”
Now I bet again, some of you nod your heads and agree…. all we want is to have fun with our horse, right?
Fast forward now being in my 50s, I still look back and think, how on earth did I survive all my little shenanigans and adventures?
The seriousness of Traumatic Brain injuries (TBI) and Concussions are way beyond what my young teenage self could imagine. A split second can change your whole life…
Also as we grow older – let’s be honest – we don’t bounce back as well… at least I don’t!
And yet, it is easy to let pride and ego (mine included) get in the way. More and more I ask myself, is it worth it? I’ve come to the conclusion it isn’t. Bones heal, wounds close, our brain, however is a different story.
Lets see what we CAN do:
How to measure and fit a riding helmet
A properly fitted helmet is essential to riding safely. The quick fitting tips and size conversion chart offered by many Brand Companies will help you get the correct sizing.
How should a riding helmet fit?
A new helmet will break in as you wear it and mould to the shape of your head. It should fit like a new pair of boots: snug, with a firm and even pressure all the way around.
Most people have an oval shaped head but some have a rounder shape. The shape of your head can effect how a helmet fits and its comfort.
If you have a rounder shaped head, you may need to be open to trying on a variety of different helmets because models can fit slightly differently.
There are various high-quality Brands out there, which is well worth looking into and do your research as well as trying out different models.
How to put a riding helmet on
When putting a helmet on, we are looking to get ‘the lock’. This is a sensation of the helmet latching and gripping onto the back of your head, which means it is on properly, secure and safe.
- Hair should ideally be worn in a low pony tail (if applicable)
- Place your forehead into the front of the helmet
- Using a rolling motion, push backwards to feel the helmet lock into the base of the skull (listen for something like a suction sound)
- Run a finger around the rim of the helmet to check for gaps or loose points. If there is any movement or gaps you may need to try a different size or fit
- Always adjust the chin strap first, then tie the back laces with a knot and bow (if applicable).
Things to check for:
- A snug fit with even, firm pressure around the entire head
- No specific pressure points or gaps
- Helmet locks onto the back of the skull
- Helmet sits level on the head, covering the forehead leaving about an inch above the eyebrows
- With the harness unfastened, the helmet should not rock forwards nor backward
- The chinstrap should sit just under the chin and gently touch the bottom of the ear lobe, avoiding the throat
- You should be able to put a finger between the strap and your chin
- The harness laces at the back of the helmet should be secured tightly
- Wear the helmet for 5 minutes to give time for it to mould to your head and reveal any pressure points.
Are a few major brands include:
I hope you enjoyed this month’s read and don’t feel discouraged as our main goal is to enjoy our equestrian partners safely. In the next installment, we will cover some other safety principles and equipment to use while being around our best friends, so stay tuned!
Carla Fuks is an equestrian and certified Equine Specialist (Breeding & Training at Dillenburg National Stud, Germany). She and her husband have raised Andalusians since 1995. They moved to Northern BC Canada in 2001, and raise horses on their farm Willsoncreek Andalusians & Azteca – a small yet high-quality Breeding Farm and Ranching Operation. their goal is to breed for everyday ranch-working stock as well as solid minded Family All-around Horses for any discipline or use.