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Amy Skinner’s Ah-Helmet Moment

Published: 6/8/2016
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Editor's Note: Amy Skinner is a regular guest columnist and has been a horse gal since age six. She  runs Essence Horsemanship, rides and teaches English and Western. Skinner has studied at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Spain, with Buck Brannaman, Leslie Desmond, Brent Graef, and many others.

Read more about Amy here.

Read more Journals & Journeys here

By Amy Skinner

For years I rode without a helmet.  I learned to ride in a somewhat lackadaisical environment, growing up without seat belts, walking South American streets, and not carrying hand sanitizer. 

I survived it all without a thought. In the saddle, I survived, even after some pretty good spills off of some pretty athletic horses.  I started horses helmet-less without a thought and rehabbed some pretty bronc-y ones, too, even with my clients' objections to my hatted-not-helmeted head. 

Helmets were mainly for poor or nervous riders, I guess I thought. That was a convenient excuse until I landed on the ground with my first horse-related head injury last spring.

After missing a week of work, getting help with barn chores, and struggling to remember simple things for a few days, I realized I couldn't afford an injury like that ever again. 
But switching from cowboy hats and baseballs caps to a helmet was a difficult transition for me. I hated the clunky feel of most helmets.  I couldn't seem to get in the habit of putting one on and usually thought of them as looking sort of ridiculous (vainly, I might add). 

After a second concussion recently (This time I was wearing a helmet), I was sent a beautiful black Avalon helmet by the generous people at Troxel.  Its design is sleek and attractive (a huge plus) and it has some cool features, such as a magnetic chin strap. 

It's easy to adjust for fit onto my tiny bean, a great feature since most helmets don't fit my small head well.  It's also extremely comfortable, even for a helmet. The inside is lined with breathable material so my head doesn't get hot (another huge reason I avoided wearing them in the past) and is super cushy. 

It's easy for me to remember to put it on because I actually like the feel of it, and it's simple enough to wear for daily schooling but classy enough for a dressage clinic. 

Having a really great fitting and comfortable helmet is a huge step in the right direction of habitually wearing a helmet. I'm pretty sure that habit saved my life this spri ng.  I suffered a pretty good concussion even with one on, and I shudder to think what it would have been like had I had my baseball cap on instead. 

Read the piece that started the Ah-Helmet Moment Series, Dr. Steve Peters' Anatomy of a Wreck.

Read about Dr. Steve Peters' decision to don a helmet.

View Reader Comments:

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6/9/2016 Julie Kenney
Wonderful Amy! Yes, finding a great fitting helmet is the key to wearing it. Plus getting in the habit makes all the difference.
8/17/2017 Bonnie Martin
I've worn helmets for years, but really need something with a brim. There are some good instructions on line now about how to creat a helhat using the brim of a hat along with a helmet. You can decorate them any way you want, and you have a western look, a brim for shade, and head protection.

"If the horse does not enjoy his work, his rider will have no joy." - H.H. Isenbart