June 9, 2012

International Helmet Awareness Day

Happy International Helmet Awareness Day, a day that will forever remind me that I was subject to some of the best parenting in the world.

My mom, who amazingly is seeming to age less as she gets older.  Hope I got those genetics.

Her two loves, Little Red and Festus.
I've discussed before that my mom grew up a horse-crazy kid in a completely non-horsey family taking H/J lessons in suburbia, so I was one of the lucky ones that had someone who understood my love of horses in my family.  For more on that, read If You're Wondering Where I Got It...

I didn't ride much as a kid, but my mom made it clear from the very beginning that I was never to even so much as sit on a horse without a helmet, ever.  If she caught me without a helmet, the threat was always vague, but the implication is that I'd be "done".  Riding, living, whatever.  As I got older, I joked with people that if my mom caught me without a helmet on a horse, I wouldn't be allowed to ride again til I turned 18 and moved out.

She grew up in the era during which most people wore helmets, but they were just hunt caps without harnesses or any kind of restraining system, and knowing what she knows now, if you bring up those hunt caps she'll shake her head and remark that it's amazing they're still alive since the helmet would often fly off in a fall.  After she got her heart horse, she just did backyard riding and wore her white Troxel religiously, even though she didn't do anything more than W/T/C, being both a role model and setting my own boundaries.

As a result of this indoctrination from the very beginning, I never questioned the fact that you did not get on a horse without a helmet, ever.  Parents, that's how it should be done.  Though there were a few times in my childhood that I'd sit on Festus (the donkey) bareback and bridleless while he was grazing, I can definitely say that I'm now 24 years old and I've never so much as sat on a horse without a helmet.  Even when the redneck southern Italians made fun of me for it on the terrifying yet beautiful Mediterranean ride and I was the only one wearing the helmet at the ride out at the very reputable central Italian S/J stable, (hmmm, seeing a pattern here?) I wore my helmet, and I was glad for it.  I replaced my previous helmet while riding a green horse as a green rider over fences my senior year, and it just made me feel better to know that my head was really protected.

In conclusion, there's no better time to buy a helmet, or remember why we wear them, or to start wearing them, than right now.  My Charles Owen has never taken a fall and has another couple of years before it expires, but I will definitely keep June 9 in mind when I go to replace it.  The bit may be the most important piece of tack, but the helmet is unquestionably the most important piece of apparel.

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