Well this is a no brainer.
My past experiences have gotten me to the place I am now, a more prepared rider and owner. I grew up as a teenage trail guide at a riding stable in Amherst, New York. Oh, those were the days. Riding 8 hours a day on the best horse at the stable, a beautiful appaloosa named Freckles. He was crazy, he was fast, he was fun. The year was 1975 and I was 13 years old, guiding trail rides without a saddle or a helmet. Can you imagine that being allowed today? On rainy days when no one would show up for rides, we would grab a horse and head out for a friendly game of hide and seek tag, bareback and helmet-less. I can tell you right now, no way would I allow my kids to ride like that. But that was how it was done…until there was an accident. It was my favorite instructor out alone riding her horse and she fell off and was killed. I never forgot that, and for a while I started wearing a helmet when I took out rides.
In 1982 I went on vacation with my sister and we stop to visit her friend who owned a horse. He took me out back to his stable, saddled up his horse and said “do you like to jump”. I answered like any 20 year old, sure, how high? I was wearing shorts, sneakers, no helmet, and jumping his horse I had never met or ridden before.
What was I thinking! What was that horse owner thinking!
When my husband and I leased a couple of horses in my early twenties we didn’t wear helmets. It just wasn’t being done for recreational trail riding.
Today I never ride without a helmet. In fact it feels unnatural not to have one on. I like wearing a helmet especially trail riding where is has saved my head from branches many times. I even wear an orange cover on my helmet during bow hunting season as a precaution not to get shot, because everyone knows a woman on a horse looks a lot like a deer.
The fortunate news for me was I survived that part of my riding history, but if I had to do it over, it would be with a helmet for sure.
In July 2013 Governor Cuomo signed a bill requiring children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding a horse. Those who don’t want to follow the law can be subject to a $250 fine that would be issued to the parents or guardians. Quoted from the signed bill: Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury. One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a properly fitting helmet in order to absorb the impact to the head, provide cushioning to the skull and reduce jarring of the brain against the skull. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that wearing helmets reduces head and brain injuries by 85% and the Equestrian Medical Safety Association strongly recommends the wearing of a properly fitted ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmet with the harness secured during equestrian activities.
My good friend and riding buddy has a very strong opinion on this for a personal reason. I would never ride without a helmet out of respect for her and respect for my safety.