View Full Version : The time my helmet saved me. Add yours..

Carol O
Mar. 13, 2010, 03:47 PM
I had been fixing some fences earlier in the day, and had left a few tools on the back side of my really huge mounting block. The mounting block was once a small porch for a mobile home; it is about 4.5 fee square. Later, while mounting my horse, I put my left foot too close to the edge of the block. As I started to swing my leg over, my foot slipped off the edge, and I fell straight down, slamming the back of my head onto a steel pipe post driver. Now I did not, until very recently, ride consistantly with a helmet, but I had put one on that day. Could have been a life changer.

I was lucky that day, but still did not ride with a helmet all the time after that (I am somewhat better at putting my tools away, however). Now I am committed to ride with one, every time.

Your turn...

Mar. 13, 2010, 03:59 PM
Helmet saved my life...while doing a training ride over 2'9" fence in November, horse refused at last minute - I didn't. Shot like a rocket straight down on the center of my head and broke my C6/C7 vertebrae, as well as nerve and disc damage. My GPA helmet saved my life, my legs and everything else that day - 4 months later I am back to riding with no apparent lasting effects! Cost of helmet is worth every penny.

Watermark Farm
Mar. 13, 2010, 04:48 PM
15 years ago I went to the barn with dirty hair. I never rode in a helmet except when jumping. That day my vanity got the better of me, so I put on a helmet to hide my greasy hair.

After a hard 60 minute lesson, I was cooling my horse outside. I stopped to tal to a friend along the paved driveway. My horse suddenly spooked and dumped me head-first into the paved driveway.

My helmet split in half like an egg upon impact. At the ER that day, as they sewed up my busted hands and knees, the docs passed the helmet around and kept coming in to stare at me. I did not have a head injury.

I've worn a helmet ever since. No exceptions.

Mar. 13, 2010, 05:18 PM
I've always worn a helmet, every time, every ride. I've had a few accidents over the years - but one recently landed me in the ER.

I was riding a pony in the field and she spooked and took off. As she took a hard turn, she slipped and went down. I managed to get mostly clear but she landed on my lower body and my head whiplashed down and hit some rocks. Helmet remained intact...I was confused and disoriented. I managed to get back on the pony but I passed out as soon as I was back on...I managed to walk back to the barn, but I was vomiting and nearly blacking out the whole walk back. An ambulance was called and when they came I was in shock.
I suffered 3 broken ribs and a concussion. I can't even imagine what the damage would have been had I not worn my helmet. An innocent hack in the field turned into a close call that was too close for comfort. I still think about how worried my husband was and how that would have affected him had I been more severely injured. He was deployed at the time. He purchased me a new helmet and sent it to me to keep me safe.

Mar. 13, 2010, 05:35 PM
I've got a few, but this is the one I tell people- it reiterates the need for "Every horse, every ride".

I was probably 14, out at the barn on a lovely summer afternoon. Fooling around following a very casual lesson, my friends and I decided to have a round of musical horses. I was riding my extremely reliable gelding; two friends were riding extremely solid citizen schoolies.

We'd been riding our 'new' horses for maybe three minutes when a completely freak hail storm erupted. The sun kept shining, the wind didn't pick up, it was just suddenly raining golf balls. All three extremely reliable horses exploded, all three of us came off. I managed to hang on just long enough to get whipped around in front of the schoolie's chest; according to witnesses I got nailed a couple of times with his knees before losing my grip and getting run over.

I stood up and ran after him, started calling to my friends to see if they were OK, everything but check myself over- and couldn't quite figure out what everyone was yelling at me about. I also couldn't figure out why my leg was all wet and what the crap dangling around my neck was.

He'd stepped on my leg and head with his back hooves. My leg still has a hoof-shaped dent in it, and my helmet was split in half- when I stood up the harness caught on my ears and the halves hung about my neck. My Mom kept the halves for years.

Mar. 13, 2010, 05:47 PM
I saw a guy make a bad fall against a railing the helmet saved his head but not his neck , he broke it and died on the scene. I also have seen a guy get kicked in the face the helmet didn't protect him there, his face was a mess. It is horrible when accidents happen and always better to wear a helmet often it is a live saver but crap happens just the same. I should wear a helmet off the horse instead of on the horse because all my hospital visits have never ever been horse related.

Mar. 13, 2010, 07:50 PM
Nothing dramatic here. I was posting along, turning right, when my foot suddenly slipped out of the stirrup! I plopped on his back, he hopped a bit - "what are you doing up there?", I shot off over his shoulder, face first into the arena. My nose was VERY sore, I had arena butn on my upper lip and chin.
I know I would have had a broken nose at least if not for the helmet.


Mar. 13, 2010, 09:45 PM
I have been dumped on my head on a paved road and only saw stars. My daughter has been dumped on her head when pony refused the ditch it had never refused before. The helmets saved us, duh. I'll even wear my safety vest when hacking outside if I feel I've got to work my horse, but its a windy spooky day. My horse had a powerful buck when a baby and she also flipped me off flat on my back a couple times. I am very respectful of any horse's capability to injure me. Limiting liabilities is a good thing.

Mar. 13, 2010, 11:28 PM
I was in a jumping lesson during the winter in the indoor...my horse popped a fence...I have no idea what he did but I think he put in one more stride and I can flying off...landed on my but and whipped backwards on my head....got up...was a little disoriented, thought I was fine and started riding again. Then drove the truck and trailer home but felt like I was drunk driving...a very wierd experience...got to the barn an 930 pm with noone around, unloaded my horse kneeled down to take his boots off and had major vertigo...was weaving and stumbling down the aisle...called my trainers barn and one of the girls took me to ER where they told me I had a concussion...helmet saved me totally....

Mar. 13, 2010, 11:41 PM
Two come to mind... First one I'd only been riding a couple of years and decided to switch to this greenie-wannabe-trainer because I didn't know any better and neither did my non-horse mom. She thought it was a brilliant idea to take me out into an open field right next to a huge, busy interstate for my first time out of the arena. We were trotting along and the horse took off at an uncontrolled dead run. Just when I thought I was hanging on he took a sharp right and off I flew into the air and hit a couple tree trunks in the air with my head and back and landed on one with my back. I cracked the helmet and fractured a vertebra.

Next time was another horse who ended up turning into a pasture pet because the vets all agreed he just wasn't all there and wasn't safe for anyone. I couldn't find a trainer, cowboy, or crazy person anywhere to try to ride him. :( I was 15 and he was my first horse. It was the day before a show and we were just finishing in the outdoor arena (pipe rail). We got down to the end and he spun around and freaked. We were in a western saddle and he was at a dead gallop headed straight towards the fence (with his nose cranked to the side- now that's talent). From all of my other experiences I braced to veer either direction and he decided to jump it- 5' for a western lazy paint horse. I flew off over his head and onto the ground. I looked up and saw him stuck and teeter tottering on the railing above my head! Someone thank goodness saw and ran out and grabbed me by the feet and pulled me out of the way just as he came off the fence with his hoof headed straight towards my face! :eek: Gives me shivers. They pulled, but not far enough because he came down on the top of my helmet. Thank goodness it wasn't my head. Gives me chills still to this day. Fractured another darn vertebra.

Mar. 14, 2010, 12:33 AM
I've managed to bonk myself a few times on the noggin and the helmet has always lightened the blow. The fall that sticks with me was one I witnessed. We were out fox hunting. The footing was great and the foxes were running. A lady had a bad jump over a coop. She landed slightly off balance and there was a sharp corner immediately following. She slammed the ground head first and knocked herself out cold. It seemed like forever that she laid there not moving. You darn right that helmet saved her life! Ps. It's really hard to get an ambulance to get someone in the middle of the woods.

Mar. 14, 2010, 12:41 AM
I have two that come to mind as well. First one was when I was in high school, was cooling out a horse after a jump lesson and she spooked and bolted. I went headfirst into the wall right under the viewing window to the indoor arena.

Second one was on April Fool's Day...gosh, must be close to 10 years ago at this point. Was getting on my OTTB gelding in the indoor. At this point he was still occasionally a little...unreliable :lol: about standing still for mounting. I put one foot in the stirrup, went to swing my leg over and he bolted. I was halfway on the horse and knew I wasn't going to manage to get all the way up, so I decided to bail. Right about that time he swerved, and I went headfirst into one of the 8" x 8" wood support posts for the arena. To add insult to injury (or maybe just more injury ;)) the post I hit was right next to the door that led to the barn aisle. The CONCRETE barn aisle. So I hit the post, blacked out, and flopped like a dead fish onto the concrete. :eek:

Fortunately there were people in the aisle cleaning stalls, and they ran out immediately and called 911. I woke up having no clue where I was or what just happened - it was honestly one of the scariest experiences of my life. After a while most of it came back, and by the time I got to the ER I had pretty much remembered everything...but I'm still missing 20 seconds or so, I'm guessing. There wasn't much visible damage to the helmet, but I got a new one anyway. CT showed a mild concussion. I consider myself extremely lucky.

Mar. 14, 2010, 03:56 AM
I came off a greenie when I was about 11 in a wreck that has kept me helmeted every ride ever since.

I was schooling a pretty sensible gelding for his owner, who had asked me to do some canter work over ground poles. Assuming that this was part of the horse's regular training schedule, after warming up I cantered him on a circle toward a ground pole for what turns out was the first time the horse had ever seen one and at the last minute he FREAKED OUT, balking and spinning. This was an athletic 6-yr-old arab, and he took off bucking, interspersed with dead bolts around the enormous arena. I was sticking to him like a burr, when in his blind panic he almost hit one of the oil drums set up in the arena for the barrel racers--at the last minute he swerved and I didn't. I hit the unyielding water-filled oil drum head first and was knocked out cold for a few seconds, I'm told. I woke up with a headache and a faceful of sandy footing--up my nose, in my mouth, covering my eyelashes. Funny the details you really remember.

I had on a cheapie Troxel velvet-covered helmet--at the time I LOVED it for making me feel like a "real" jumper rider for some reason, probably because I thought it looked a bit like the helmet my idol at the time, Greg Best, was wearing in the poster I had in my room--and that helmet was cracked inside the smooshed and dented velvet covering. It certainly saved me serious brain injury if not my life. As it was, I had a mild concussion. My best friend was on the rail when this happened, and she was the "I'm too good to need a helmet" kind, and that day she started wearing a helmet and has ever since. That was almost 20 years ago.

More recently, I was in a lesson with a friend of mine and a Great Blue Heron landed on the arena fence--something we haven't seen before or since. It was stunning. My friend's steady-eddie schoolie agreed, and did a spin-and-bolt from a halt that managed to drop my friend over the mare's shoulder. Even though it was a straight drop off a little 14.2 mare from the halt, my friend hit her head hard and her helmet cracked halfway up the back. She walked away from that one with a sore neck but no concussion, thanks to her helmet.

Mar. 14, 2010, 11:31 AM
I have just this year started wearing my helmet with every ride or drive, even wore it doing ground work with a rehab spooker as well as while hosing her off last week.

I had a very bad carriage accident last fall that should have killed me. I was not wearing a helmet. as the horse was rounding the turn and making a break for the open arena door, I was thinking about my son being motherless...

Mar. 14, 2010, 12:35 PM
I almost always rode in my helmet, but usually took it off first thing when I got down. Too hot, too uncomfortable. But this day I'd been jumping and had bell boots on my TB gelding. There'd been some mud and I wanted to get them off before they chafed. I was squatting down fiddling with the boot and he reached his hind leg up to brush at a fly and got me right in the temple. I was bowled over a couple times, but unhurt. THe farrier, who was there at the time, said he'd seen a guy get killed exactly the same way.

The second time I was just riding around outside the barn, waiting for the person I was going to trail ride with to finish tacking up. Irish must've been stung by something because all of the sudden he exploded in the huge, rodeo-horse bucks! The BM said I hit 10 up before I started back down. I landed on a hard-packed gravel parking lot, head-first. My back hurt for six months, but no head injury.


Go Fish
Mar. 14, 2010, 01:58 PM
Not me but I watched a lesson this past winter where a horse left out a stride to a 3'9" oxer and the rider did a pretty good imitation of the Flying Wallenda Brothers. She sailed about 20 feet through the air and landed with her head slammed against the arena wall. She was pretty dazed/out for about 30 seconds but was otherwise unhurt. I could only imagine what would have happened to her head had she not been wearing a helmet. I could hear the slam against the wall all the way across the arena.

Mar. 14, 2010, 02:20 PM
I always wear my helmet when working with the young ones - on the ground as well.

My story:

I was riding my horse on the road. A van went by too fast - a stone flew up and hit my gelding. He jumped into the ditch, fell, rolled over top of me and as he was getting up his size 4 hoof landed on my helmet - shattered the helmet instead of my head.

Mar. 14, 2010, 10:16 PM
Barn buddies and I were just discussing this topic!

My (now retired) gelding and I were on a walking trail ride with a friend. Now my horse is a parade horse so spooking was a rarity. We were crossing a paved part of the path, maybe 8 feet wide. His back feet scrambled and he fell. Only my leg was under him but my head hit. I'd be dead if I hadn't been wearing my helmet!

I'm 33 and wear mine always. Hot days, cold days, horse show or non.

Becky & the boys

Thoroughbred Hunter Lady
Mar. 14, 2010, 10:56 PM
....about 20+ years ago, I was riding my brandy new OTTB in the indoor arena, she was a young mare, who, by the way, was ever-so-gentle and very quiet! There was a woman riding in the arena as well as a few others at the other end. This particular woman was a virtual beginner and she'd recently purchased a horse that was way above her level of expertise! I used to make a point of avoiding her when she rode in the arena as I had witnessed many of her close calls (and yes, we did talk to the trainer about her but that's another story for another topic).

Anyway, she came into the ring after I was already riding, I didn't even know she was on the property but when I saw her, I thought to myself, "just relax, what harm could come if I stayed away from her and continued working on the walk". Well, I guess I was wrong because she proceeded to trot at a pace so quick that she was barely able to keep posting correctly. I then decided that I was better off on my feet rather than astride so I headed to the short corner of the arena, planned to do a small circle and head for the dismounting area when....suddenly she actually rode her horse into my mine because she was unable to slow him down. My horse did a short bolt but I collected her within moments and was about to ride past the next corner and head out of there when she hit me again, incredible, huh? Anyway, the second "bump" to my girl was obviously a bit too much and she bolted into a dead, flat out run, stumbled and I came "flying off" and hit the wall, with my head! I was wearing one of those skull caps from the "olden days", a Caliente (anyone remember those?) and even with the force of hitting that wall, it did not even get a dent. However, I, on the other hand, managed to do some serious damage to my cheekbone, eye and ear but I am completely positive that had it not been for the helmet, I would not be here today!

Mar. 15, 2010, 12:22 AM
I was trying a horse for sale at my home barn that I had seen go many, many times with his junior rider. I had taken a lesson on him at night. Something from the trail spooked him, and he bolted back to the other end of the arena. It's a small ring, so it was no big deal and I quickly got him back.

A few days later, we were riding in a busy ring where I had to keep stopping while the jumping lesson proceeded. I decided to bail on that ring, and went over to the schooling ring where there were more kids but no jumping. He volunteered a trot, so I took off my spurs thinking I did not want to goose him accidentally, since he was feeling rather fresh. Well, that's the last thing I remember about that ride. He took off running, and I was totally panicked and screaming (so I've been told.) I do have one hazy image of being in the air above his back, and someone said he was doing a running buck. Whatever happened, I came off and hit the rail, which is metal piping. It knocked me out cold and dislocated my shoulder.

I spent a night in the ICU because there was some possible bleeding, but it turned out to be nothing. I had some post-concussion symptoms for a few months, and did not get on a horse again for two months.

I have no doubt that I would be dead or disabled without that helmet.

Mar. 15, 2010, 12:39 AM
I was jumping a horse I had no business being on but I was young and trainer had me riding him and I thought I was super cool :cool: Well he cracked his back over a jump and I came flying off. I don't remember it but everyone watching said I landed on my back and then literally bounced and came down on my side. Got the wind knocked out of me and had some intense back pain but from the way I came off and fell I'm sure my helmet protected me from some potentially more serious problems.

Mar. 15, 2010, 05:15 PM
You guys have some pretty dramatic stories, so I guess mine is a little tame. I wear my helmet every ride, and I never thought of riding without one as an option (Pony Club will do that to you I guess- good thing too!). I was at an event in the show jumping warm-up, on my enormous Irish horse. He was sensitive and prone to bolting, but was pretty much like a couch so he took you with him wherever he was going. Coming up to the small vertical, I guess I leaned a little and he chipped, and somehow I ended up just going right over his left shoulder on the landing. It was a very minor fall that could happen to anyone, any day. You know, just sort of slid off.

I got up feeling like I was drunk, and I have very little memory of the next few hours. I ended up in the hospital, got a scan, and had to be held until my concussion wore off because I was perseverating (asking the same questions over and over) for longer, I guess, than I should have been. Somehow my shirt was all torn and I was covered in dirt, but I managed to go home that evening. Obviously you would never be caught without a helmet at an event, but it was a pretty stark reminder of the kind of injury that could have happened had I been bareheaded. It was such a minor fall.

Tiger Horse
Mar. 15, 2010, 11:23 PM
I've been really lucky not once, but twice.

20 years ago, I was riding my greenie - I don't remember a thing except waking up in the hospital . . . a day after the incident. No one saw what happened, they found me face down in the front outdoor ring . . . my filly cavorting around me.

Same horse two weeks later, out on trail near a road, bus went by and let air out of brakes - filly spooked, took off running, then bucking. I didn't land all that hard and was
surprised to see the hoof print on the front of my helmet!

Need I say more?!

Mar. 15, 2010, 11:44 PM
I wear a helmet every time that I get on a horse.

My cousin didn't like wearing helmets because it would wreck her hair. She took enough falls that the dr will not allow her to ride anymore, but yet she asked to ride my horse and doesn't want to wear a helmet. Nope..no helmet, no ride.

Why I wear helmets:

I was riding my mom's horse who was a tbx. He was a natural jumper but kind of klutz. We were taking a jump and he stopped. I kept going. I landed on the back of my head and rolled over. I got back on the horse and took the jump. My mom took the horse and I went to lay down. She came in and saw two beautiful black eyes. We went to the hopsital. I knocked myself silly.


I rode my horse for the first time since winter. We just went for walk down the driveway. My horse is a little lazy but was feeling very fresh. He reared, bucked, reared and bucked. Next buck he twisted his rear around and dropped his shoulder. I landed in a pile of snow..but was a foot from the blacktop. I did have a little headache from smacking myself wiht the stirrup. Yeah that is graceful. My darling horse took off down the driveway bucking and rearing down the road. Trainer's hubby came running down the driveway to check on me. I was like..umm...that was a interesting result. My trainer got on him and rode him the next time. He was an angel...

Mar. 16, 2010, 12:41 AM
Mine saved my life yesterday. My normally quiet mare in warmup at a horse show took offense to my asking her to canter (she is young, and very green) and proceeded to buck incredibly hard and sent me flying and flipping through the air and landed on the back of my head.

Mar. 16, 2010, 07:35 AM
About six years ago, riding my horse at Sussex fair grounds in a small jumper class. My greenish horse balked at a fence, I urged him to go anyway, I hit the ground resulting in an airlift. To this day I still don't know the who the young girl was that helped at the trailer to get my horse together while everyone was dealing with me.

3 months later, same horse this time at home resulting in severe whiplash (didn't want to hit the head).

4 years ago, new horse, green horse slipped landing off our outdoor event jumps and I hit the ground, thankfully the farrier was there to notice my horse running by without a rider.

If it were not for the young girls at my barn at the time convincing my to get with the program and by a GPA instead of the "appearal item", I would be in a different state.

Mar. 16, 2010, 08:06 AM
About 12 years ago - trainer had been teaching maresey changes. I was cantering down the long side of the chain arena, did something wonky with my body for some reason and maresey thought I asked for a change. She changed to counter canter but her outside hind leg came down outside the chain. She stopped and freaked and starting backing up ninety miles a minute, pulling the chain with her. The faster she backed, the more the chain in front of her came unraveled and snaked back toward her. I couldn't get her stopped and was on the verge of an emergency dismount when she whirled and slammed me into the ground. I landed on my hip but flip-flopped hard onto the side of my head - it really slammed the ground. I was pretty dazed for a few minutes - good thing I was wearing my helmet or I would very likely have sustained a concussion. (I have been an "every horse, every ride" girl for a long, long time.)

Mar. 16, 2010, 08:13 AM
These are all amazing stories. About 20 years ago I was in the schooling ring at a horse show and the OTTB I was spooked and took off. I only remember coming to in the ambulance; in and out of consciousness for a few hours.

I had been dragged across the show grounds and boy did I hurt but my nogin was all right!

Since getting back into riding as an adult I have been grateful for my helmet on the few occasions I have gone flying.

When I retired my horse recently, I started to think it would be nice to not wear a helmet; as if it were some earned leisure activity. However, my horse let me know that just because we are not jumping anymore didn't mean that he doesn't have the energy to use his quick "drop shoulder." I am grateful that I didn't learn this lesson the hard way. Helmet on every time!

Mar. 17, 2010, 02:43 PM
I've had a few run-ins where I benefitted from my helmet.

Once when I was in my mid-teens, I was jumping a one-stride on my arab. He planted before the second fence, dodged to the right and wiped me off head-first into a winged standard. I got back on, jumped the combo, and feeling a little dizzy and woozy asked if I could be excused from the rest of the lesson. I split the outer surface of my helmet on the standard, as we were at a very fast canter when I hit it.

Second, I was at a horse show on a greenie. She'd been incredibly tolerant and non-spooky all weekend. I got on the 2nd day, she took a couple trot steps, I picked up the reins and she reared straight up and threw me on my back, spun and trampled me on her way to gallop back to the barn. I nailed the back of my head pretty well on that one.

I also wear my helmet when loading horses. Same horse as the rearing incident was in the trailer when I leaned in the safety door to adjust her hay net. She flung her head towards the door, hit me in the face and smashed my head into the side of the trailer doorway. My entire lip was fat and split, but the helmet protected me from getting nailed against the doorway.

These are the things you can't predict or prevent where helmets are totally necessary.


Mar. 17, 2010, 02:57 PM
I was riding a young horse who had been doing well. We had finished up about a half-hour long ride and I was walking him on a loose rein to cool him out. I was just about to take him to the center of the ring and get off when suddenly he just started flying backwards, then flipped over on me, crushing me against the solid metal panel. There's a nice dent the size of my helmet in it still. :)

I fractured two vertebrae in my neck which of course my helmet didn't do anything for, but I had a pretty serious concussion and my helmet was cracked in half. The ER doc told me I could easily have been killed had I not been wearing it, or at the very least I would have been taken in unconscious rather than walking in under my own power.

I've had a couple of other much less dramatic knocks to the head where my helmet saved me from a more serious head injury, but that's the really big one I always tell when people ask me why I wear a helmet.

Also, we still haven't figured out why the heck he flipped over. We couldn't find any pain issues and I had several people watching who all said it was just like a switch was flipped in his brain and he panicked. Even though he was young, it really underscored that you never do know when an accident can happen.

Mar. 17, 2010, 06:55 PM
At least twice:

1989 - in a jumping lesson alongside my group inMichigan (Emily Mastervich, Sarah Moore, etc.). The old "sea of rails." Lost my seat oh the 3rd of 5 jumps ... flying dismount went awry prior to the 4th jump ... resulted in me twisting around, landing with my butt at the base of the fence at a pretty good clip. My upper body snapped backwards, head hitting lowest 4" solid oak rail. I actually dented the back my Caliente Skull cap (a nearly impossible feat). Lotsa pain and bruising to my whole body. Neck kept giving me problems and I found out months later I had suffered an Fx of the vertebral process (C-2). No doubt, I would probably have had a serious closed head wound without the Caliente.

Second time - 1995 - a young Schonfeld leaped, spooked and whirled at full speed as I had just swung a leg over (not yet IN the off stirrup) at a show grounds where I had hauled to school. He gave it all he had. I was flung off after about 1 full spin and I skidded, face up on my back, for several feet - again the back of my head taking the full impact. My glasses were found over 20 feet away. The back of my helmet took such a force that it blew out the beads in FRONT - from the inside to out. I ended up lying in the ER letting them pick asphalt and gravel out of my body (it had penetrated my clothing) and wrapping my severe abrasions .... It should have been a terrible injury, but the worst that happened was a big floater broke loose from my retina. Tho I still suffer some vision problems when it moves around, I am so grateful that it was no worse.

Where would I be without a helmet? Probably in a grave, or at least as "frequent flyer" in Brain Trauma Recovery PT and speech therapy!

Mar. 18, 2010, 01:24 PM
Back about 18 years ago I decided to take my 17 hand WB for a brief trail ride after schooling in the arena. I had just started wearing spurs while schooling and neglected to remove them as we headed out for our cool down walk. A "killer" tree stump spooked my horse who spun and bolted which would have been okay except that I instinctively grabbed with both legs and stuck the spurs into him. He went to bucking like a rodeo horse and catapulted me over his head - I landed on my head (didn't even have a chance to get my hands out to break my fall) on a hard packed dirt road. I was wearing an early version of the styrofoam lined helmet - a heavy, hard/thick plastic shell thing that I hated with only a very few small round holes for ventilation (and this in FL) The hard plastic visor slid down and broke my nose but the helmet saved my brain . It was scraped where I landed but didn't even dent -I sometimes wonder if the current lightweight flexible plastic shells would have worked as well. I always wear a helmet every time I ride and feel naked without one.

Mar. 18, 2010, 10:29 PM
magnum, 1989 was a good year, :D. I was on a lesson horse doing a 3'6" outside course at my trainers and cantering down to the 3rd or 4th jump when all of a sudden I was flying through the air. No warning of anything coming, horse had been perfect up to then. I did a complete somersault and landed on my head on the ground, just slammed it. I laid there for a minute then realized I couldn't feel anything below my waist, couldn't move my legs at all. Scared the hell out of me, honestly. After a couple of minutes the feeling started to return in the form of lots of pain. Turned out I was just very badly bruised and twisted and was able to get up and walk away after 15-20 minutes. Couldn't hardly move for two weeks because of a large bone bruise.

I didn't find out until I was getting ready to leave that where my helmet had hit the ground was a large rock. My helmet had a 4" long dent at least an inch deep. I have no doubt I would have been killed instantly without it.

Oh yeah, the horse had given a huge buck as we were coming to the fence because a giant Rottweiler had run up behind us and grabbed onto his tail! We were both so focused on the fence that neither of us noticed him. Not the kind of thing you can plan for.

Mar. 19, 2010, 02:36 AM
I was thirteen. My horse reared up and flipped over with me on him. He didn't land on me, but did manage to get his feet caught in the railing, with me unconscious in the square formed by the rail, his legs and his belly. He struggled to get free and kicked me in the head. It woke me up and I thought, "Oh no, I wonder where the next kick is going to land," but the minute he made contact, he stopped moving. I know he knew it was me, bless his beautiful thoroughbred heart. The next thing I knew, a group of people came in to the ring and pulled me out. There's no way I would have lived had it not been for that hunt cap. That was 1968. I still have that cap, velveteen with a red satin lining and intact. But now I wear an approved helmet. I don't get on a horse without one and I never will.

I was happy to have a helmet on just a few years ago, when I was riding my bad boy. He got miffed that I asked for a better walk-canter depart and decided he was going to buck and bolt and run me into a jump standard. When I got to the arena, I'd thought to myself that those standards were too close to the rail but decided I didn't have to move them. As my horse came around the corner at a Belmont clip, I saw myself losing a knee to the standard, so I bailed and rolled under the fence. Galloping hooves are much louder when you're on the ground right next to them. I was surprised to find myself a little unsteady when I got up, which was immediately, but there was no injury. I don't like to think how different it might have been had I not been wearing a helmet.

Threw that one out and bought a new one. Replace them every few years. I'd rather ride.

Mar. 19, 2010, 03:11 PM
considering that Courtney King-Dye is fighting for her life right now with a serious brain injury...long thread over on the Dressage forum. Jingles to her and all her connections. Here's my story-thankfully not too dramatic but yes my helmet saved me from an unhappy outcome. WALKING on the bit on a kinda clumsy OTTB. Was cooling out but I did not trust him to walk on a loose rein. He tripped and went down on his face and I rode him down to the ground. Luckily he regained his balance and did not roll on me but I rolled over his head and smacked the ground. My helmet broke my nose but other than that I was fine. And no, I never ride without a helmet-EVER!

Mar. 19, 2010, 03:38 PM
Helmets are not just for single life-saving accidents.

There is so much research showing the cumulative damage from blows to the head leading to degenerative brain damage later in life, i.e. in sports like football, hockey and snowboarding (A NY TImes story today:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/sports/19snowboard.html

And a concussion or concussions, even mild ones, make you more vulnerable to future blows.

Riders need to take that into consideration, too.

Mar. 19, 2010, 06:53 PM
A few years ago I was training this rather rank big mare. Long story short. She flipped herself over on top of me. One minute we were standing there "fighting" the next I was flat on my back, we were not in the ring, on the ground.

the force broke my helmet and when the helmet came forward it lacerated me on the bridge of my nose. My husband who was watching said I missed being impalled on one of our fence posts by an inch.

Her full body weight landed on my left ankle. I don't know how she did NOT break my ankle. I never got knocked out thankfully.

I laid there for a second, asked for a drink of water and lifted my left leg saying to myself "damn I hope she did not just break my ankle". I wiggled my toes, still with foot in boot, feeling it swelling, and said "nope it's not broken".

The worst part was the injury to my torso. I could not sit up for days b/c of hitting the hard ground with such force. Thankfully again I did not break my back or pelvis.

The ankle, which I did get checked out, gets stiff some times but all in all I am one tough cookie. I keep that helmet to show my students.

Mar. 20, 2010, 07:23 PM
Last summer I was hacking a 6 year old Hanoverian after a school. At this point I had no idea he was working on a monster hoof abscess in the right hind - he was still sound in soft footing and on turnout. I was coming around the barn where there is larger stone gravel for drainage and handyman and tractor were coming so I asked him to halt, then rein back a few steps to give more room for them to roll through. As he reversed he stepped on a sharp stone. Within 1/2 a second I felt was his hind end crumple beneath me and the last thing I remember is hearing him roar in pain and seeing his neck coming backwards at me. I woke up to him standing on 3 legs sniffing my face and lots of people yelling. My helmet had a round circular impact blow on the back and a crack from the bottom to the top. Needless to say I went out and spent $400 on a new helmet and treat it with love. Previously I only wore them on 'youngsters' or 'problem horses' but this experience showed me how quickly unexpected things happen and how there is nothing you can do to stop it once something like that is set in motion. My horse felt pain and he reacted. I have ridden disobedient horses that rear but when they fall like that it is entirely different, there is no stopping gravity. Luckily I only ended up with some bruises, an afternoon in the hospital getting tests run and a poor guy with a really sore foot that got heaps of carrots and hugs. My bashed in helmet now hangs in the tack room as our ‘lucky charm’ and to remind others why they should be wearing theirs.

Mar. 21, 2010, 09:31 AM
My daughter came off my big gelding yesterday, cooling him down for me riding him bareback to the pasture. He gave a couple of bucks when something in the bushes spooked him, dropped his shoulder, and she rolled right off between his front hooves. He stopped dead and looked down at her, and she has a bruised back and some shoulder bruises, but her head was literally right in between those huge friesian platter hooves.

It would have been so easy for her to have blown off the helmet just this once, as he was already tired, and she was just walking him bareback. I'm glad that she's a helmet kind of girl...

Mar. 21, 2010, 09:56 AM
I have 2 stories, and am glad that I survived earlier falls in my youth (1960's) without a helmet, but now that I wear one regularly, I feel naked without one. The first time a helmet saved me was when my mare's hind feet slipped out from underneath her at a turn into a corner, at a canter. We were in an indoor arena, and she fell onto her side, with her legs hitting the arena wall. Luckily I went off the side toward open space arena, but the impact was quite hard. The helmet cracked, so that tells me my head definitely would have been hurt had I not been wearing it.

The second time, different helmet of course<g>, I was riding a greenie, also in an indoor that unfortunately had a spooky corner all the horses hated or feared. I had spaced out that we were approaching that particular 'bad' corner, and as we reached it, she spun toward the center and did a real rodeo bronc imitation along the diagonal from one end of arena to another, galloping and bucking. I came off on the 3rd buck, landed hard on head and elbow mostly. My last memory before I came to was seeing a hoof heading toward me; some time is missing between those events. I survived that one with only a mild concussion and bruised elbow, thanks to my helmet.