This week there was a photo of Queen Elizabeth riding at age 85. Bless her heart; she has always been a lover of horses. She was wearing her usual outdoor head wear- a scarf. There was some internet banter about the missing helmet.

I notice her family members wearing helmets for polo; perhaps she falls into that category of riders who think that some equine events require helmets, but not others. It is the ‘Sometimes Dangerous’ argument. I used to use it myself.

But that’s an absurd helmet excuse. And now I am making excuses for the Queen! It’s silly because there are no excuses. The research is in and the potential danger is undeniable. Everyone agrees: the NFL, UCI, NHL, Nascar, Motocross- the professionals wear helmets. And last year, the USEF, although some of us lag behind. Helmet wear has to be considered common sense at this point, right?

“Common sense is very uncommon.” Horace Greeley

The Queen gets a wry smile from me, riding at 85. Old habits die hard; at this point, she isn’t likely to give up riding or take up helmet wearing.  And just like the Queen, lots of us don’t respond well to being told what to do.  I am a bit protective of her and I cringe whenever I see a rider with a naked head. If the Queen wore a helmet, I guess I would be more comfortable.

(Brilliant Uber-Glam solution to pesky helmet hair- Horses love it, too.)

I think the gold medal absurd helmet excuse is fear of helmet hair. Really? Bad hair? Have you checked your jacket for horse dander and spit? And what’s that green stuff on your boot?

Do you really think an attractive single man is going to (#1) wander into the barn and (#2) decide to not marry you because of helmet hair? Really?

Stop making women look simple and foolish! Horsemanship is not about lounging in the barn in expensive breeches, sipping chardonnay, and having a good hair day.

If I am brought down by tough judging, then I will take my lumps and work harder. If I am brought down by helmet hair, I should get a new hobby. Like shopping.

At the risk of being called sexist for picking on women, I’ll also challenge men who think their manhood is defined by a cowboy hat.

Just for one minute- can we  get past our own surface vanity and take some pride in what we are doing- rather than how we look doing it? Better to strap one on, ride well, and grow some character. Accomplish something you can be proud of.

People who are long term relationship material love a helmet, so if you actually do ride horses to attract a date (?), at the very least- you will attract someone worthy of you.  And at the most…you will raise common sense above debates about beauty and fashion. I applaud that!

And because I am an equal opportunity blame-pointer, let’s talk about me. I don’t think I further the pro-helmet cause if I am sitting on my High Horse and judging others. It’s a barn version of racial profiling. I admit it. My heart jumps into my throat when I see a kid riding without a helmet. I am not proud to admit that when I see a professional without a helmet, it changes how I think them as well. Again, my bad.

Every year the excuses for not wearing a helmet sound a bit more lame. The groundless debate continues; we are a stubborn crowd. I do wish we respected horses more, and our work with them. Mostly, I wish common sense was more common.

Thanks, Pam. Thanks, Leslie. And Grace, too.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

Other Helmet posts: Hard Hats and Hard HeadsHelmets and Freedom.

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Comment by MagsNMe on January 7, 2012 at 2:20pm

I heartily endorse every ADULT's right to choose... I just don't think I should be paying their bills when the inevitable happens... 

And I've replaced more than one helmet due to impact... in fact I keep two on hand, which speaks to compulsion, or a horse with some bad behaviour...

Comment by Anna Blake on January 6, 2012 at 5:15pm

Marlene for President. Or Queen.

Comment by E. Allan Buck on January 6, 2012 at 2:27pm

Head injuries due to lack of brain protection is nature's way of selecting out those who can't think ahead to possible consequences of their actions.


Oh that is so good Marlene..........

Comment by Jackie Cochran on January 6, 2012 at 12:41pm

I agree with Marlene about old age.  I also agree with Anna, and I think that the Queen, in order to provide a good example to her young subjects, should put a helmet on.

I am a compulsive helmet wearer.

Comment by Marlene Thoms on January 6, 2012 at 12:00pm

It seems every sport has gone through a transition period, cycling, motorbiking, skiing, where certain die-hards thought they were immune to the laws of physics, but gradually more people caught on, or submitted to legislation. Head injuries due to lack of brain protection is nature's way of selecting out those who can't think ahead to possible consequences of their actions. When it comes to the elderly though, as I learned from my dad who passed away at 94, at some point they don't really care if they die. Everyone else should be using their heads.

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