06 February 2011

The Safety Girl and the Law -- Or Why I Always Wear A Helmet When Mounted

Kiltartan and Molly Bull, Rolex 2007 ©Nan Rawlins/Equimage

I'm a Safety Girl.  I like being as safe as can be. I always wear my seat belt when driving, and always wear a helmet when mounted. Have for years. Don't feel normal unless I have that chin strap firmly fastened. On Rider's 4 Helmets, Haley Harwell makes a compelling case for wearing a safety helmet whenever anyone is in the saddle.

Speaking from my own experience, I'd have to agree with Haley.   A helmet once saved me from my second skull fracture and a speeding ticket, all in the same day. The first skull fracture doesn't really fit into this discussion as it involved a rickety stool, a concrete floor, and hanging up streamers for a Halloween Party (Where were my safety instincts when I was 21?) I saw stars and forgot my own name  - for awhile.

The second near miss occurred when I was schooling a friend's rather huge mare over a lousy triple line and the mare had a loss of conviction.  It didn't help that I too thought it was a bad line from the get go-- allowing myself to be cajoled into taking it by my friend's then instructor (not certified I might add which does fit into a safety discussion for another day). But, in this particular case I should have followed my own (and the mare's) instincts  -  which were dead on.

That bad line and the mare had plans for me.  I firmly believe it was my safety girl's helmet-wearing obsession that saved me on that particular sunny day.   The helmet took the blunt force created by the combination of a a cheap stop and listening to bad advice as my head was slammed squarely into the corner of one of the standards. My broken helmet saved me from round two with temporary amnesia and perhaps worse.

And the speeding ticket? On the journey home, following my brush with the mare's reluctance,  I was stopped, while doing 80 in a 60, by a member of the State Highway Patrol .  I must have had a slight concussion as I really don't recall speeding.  But the officer took one look at my tack in the back seat, my dirty clothes, my cracked and swollen lip, and my cracked ASTM approved helmet which I quickly produced as evidence of my shaky mental state, and gave me a warning.

So let this be a lesson for us all.  Wearing a good helmet can save you from more than just a bump on the head.  In Haley's case, which was a thousand times more serious, it saved her from paralysis. As for myself, my little brush with the law and the jump standard, wasn't nearly as expensive as it could have been, that's for sure.

Read Haley's story here...

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