Helmet rules for Morgan exhibitors

I’m not trying to reopen the tired debate about helmets for adults, but there’s a news item on the AMHA’s site about new helmet rules for leadliners and walk-trotters on the Morgan circuit. If the USEF accepts the proposal, leadliners at Morgan shows will be required to wear helmets while mounted, effective immediately. The rule for walk trotters would take effect in 2012.

http://www.morganhorse.com/news_events/latest_news/usef_leadline_helmet/

I’ve never heard of any leadline class tragedies, but it’s better that they’re not waiting for one to happen before implementing this rule. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I hope other breeds will follow suit.

39 Responses to Helmet rules for Morgan exhibitors

  1. jmorse says:

    What I think we will be seeing over the next few years is a phasing in of more mandatory helmet use at USEF competitions. We may even see mandatory helmet use outside of USEF competitions as more insurance companies demand it of venue operators. for events staged at their venues.

    Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
    Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

  2. mrsfire says:

    I think it is a great idea! Parents shouldn’t have to decide if protecting their child’s head is more important than looking fashionable. Plus, then the parents don’t have to argue with their kids about it. If everyone is wearing a helmet, it will become such a common look that we won’t think twice about it.

  3. Mr Bill says:

    I can’t envision some well-to-do lady wearing a formal gown and sitting in a fine harness buggy showing her park harness horse in an evening championship… wearing a helmet.

    I don’t want to live long enough to see that day.

    The embarrassment and humiliation may actually deter some participants (most notably, Harry Sebring, whom everyone at convention agreed would look the most ridiculous).

    Mr Bill (who survived childhood wearing a baseball cap)

  4. jessica says:

    Mr Bill – would you rather see that well-to-do lady in a hospital bed hooked up to all sorts of life support after a potentially preventable brain injury?

    I don’t believe anyone has suggested drivers wearing helmets. That said, should drivers wear helmets too? Probably. Do they? Some carriage drivers do, yes, so fancy dress plus helmet isn’t really a reach. And if carriage drivers can do it, why not someone showing fine harness?

  5. ChillyOne says:

    “Parents shouldn’t have to decide if protecting their child’s head is more important than looking fashionable.”

    Actually, this is exactly a parent’s job.

  6. Mr Bill says:

    There IS discusion about requiring ALL participants at horse shows to wear helmets in the future. To me, this is utterly ridiculous. I draw the line at Walk Trotters.

    Look, I have no problem requiring young children to wear helmets. We use them for the kids here at PlayMor. It’s the teens and adults I take exception to.

    “…would you rather see that well-to-do lady in a hospital bed hooked up to all sorts of life support after a potentially preventable brain injury?”

    By that logic, all participants should be wearing flack jackets, padded suits, elbow and knee braces, helmets with full face masks and a magic force field. Think of it this way. ALL injuries, ALL accidents are preventable. Are we really going to try and prevent each and every one? If so, sell your horse, you are already taking a vast amount of risk just leading it out of the stall.

    Show me the statistics on head injuries within our competitions. Not over jumps, not cross country courses, but flat classes, riden or driven. Classic Driving. English Pleasure. Park Harness. There are none because they are so far and few between. Can anyone remember more then one? I can’t, and the one I remember was a bonk on the head, no concussion, no lasting injury.

    Can you tell I’m not real fond of the Nanny State we’re becoming? :)

    Mr Bill

  7. jessica says:

    Mr Bill – I agree with you, believe it or not, as regards turning into a Nanny State. On the other hand, until everyone and their brother stops suing over every damned little thing that happens, we may find ourselves stuck with it.

    And no, I don’t think flak jackets, padded suits, elbow and knee braces or even magic force fields are necessary (though I like the force field idea!). Broken bones can generally be recovered from. Serious brain injuries…not so much.

    I guess what I object to the most is the horror with which some people seem to view helmets. Are they less attractive than a derby? A lot of people seem to think so, but a lot of people find a derby unattractive too…

    “I don’t want to live long enough to see that day.” you said regarding a lady showing in a gown and a helmet in park harness….and yet, it is the lady’s option to do so under our current rules. Would you find it truly that upsetting if the lady were to do so?

    And while I have no hard stats that I can go access, I do know people that have sustained concussions from riding related injuries. No, they were not going over fences. Flat riding. Saddleseat, even.

  8. dressagemorganrider says:

    Seems like the eventers and even many dressage people are on-board now. All it took was one high-profile accident — Courtney King-Dye, an Olympic rider, was thrown from her horse when it tripped during warm-up, and CKD received serious head injuries.

    (Since then, Olympic rider Debbie McDonald was also thrown from a young horse and landed on her head; luckily she was wearing a helmet, so she’s alive… but her competitive career is over because she tweaked some previous injuries to her neck.)

    Also eventer Darren Chiaccia had a bad head injury a few years back — on cross-country — and returned to competition fairly quickly, but he was left with impaired judgment (google his name to find out more.)

    National-level eventing and dressage now require helmets at ALL times, even for dressage where many people switched to top hats when they got to a certain level. And at some joint national-FEI competitions, the FEI riders have been wearing helmets in support of these rules. Do people grumble? Sure, some do, but that’s the case with any rules change, and people are getting used to it.

    I’ve been a “helmet always” rider since I returned to riding nearly 5 years ago (as a kid, I only wore a helmet for jumping and trail riding, with the trail rides usually including galloping and jumping.) My head is my livelihood and I’d like to keep it that way!

  9. Mr Bill says:

    I whole-heartedly support any and all riders/drivers/handlers to wear helmets if the prefer to do so. It’s the forcing of participants in non-dangerous competitions to wear them that I’m wary of. Trying to nip it in the bud, so to speak. We’re not there yet, but it’s coming.

    The difference between a flat class and a cross country course is so vast that it’s not worthy of comparison. Olympic jumping courses are very tough and prone to spills and falls, but Classic Driving? Come on…

    However, I will admit that my biggest concern is for nothing more then looks. If a gal is wearing a Tux in an English Pleasure championship, it looks best if she’s wearing a top hat. If a lady in a buggy wants to show off her $200 hairdo, I support her descision to do so. Lord knows I’ve paid for enough of ‘em!

    In the game that I play, looks matter. Seriously. It’s exactly that shallow. We judge on how the entries look, so looks are ALL that matter.

    Imagine puting a crash helmet on a figure skater…

    Mr Bill <–working on magic force field

  10. jessica says:

    Ah, but if ALL the entries are wearing tuxes and helmets, then the “look” is the same for all riders. Might not look as we are currently used to. And therein, I think, lies the issue. We’re all creatures of habit, and we don’t want to change. We especially don’t want to be forced to change (and I understand and agree with that). But if we are forced to change, eventually we stop grumbling and it’s all ok.

    Let me know when you get that magic force field completed. I suspect it could be quite the popular item, so I want to make sure I’m near the front of the line to get one! :-)

  11. Mr Bill says:

    They call that the ‘normalcy bias’, and I agree I am very much afflicted by it. Once I’m dead and gone, then fine, everybody can wear helmets.

    :)

  12. Mr Bill says:

    OK, I’ve perfected my Magic Force Field. Unfortunately, this only works for flat classes at Morgan shows when the gate is closed and the class is underway. Other then that, all bets are off.

    You can mix this up at home, but it works best when concocted by a professional.

    Mix 3 parts common sense with 5 parts monthly training. Add 2 parts weekly practice (known in the industry as ‘Lessons’) and sprinkle generous amounts of practice (known in the industry as, um… ‘Practice’), while stirring with a riding crop (though it’s best to mix in some carrots as well).

    Bake at 10 degrees over the winter, then increase the temperature during Spring (known in the industry as ‘Breeding Season’, when the best plans can turn to muck). Once Summer arrives (known in the industry as ‘Show Season’), apply liberaly to your entire brain.

    Make sure to cover ‘Nerves’ and ‘Panic’ with a thick, second coat.

    Throughout this cooking and coating process, your cook (known in the industry as ‘Trainer’) should reveal the secrets of Accident Avoidance and Emergency Procedures, including “How to Bail, and When”, “How to Read the Future between Your Horses Ears”, “How to Read the Future from Behind your Horses Tail”, and “The Breaking Point of Leather”.

    Shake thoroughly before each competitive venture. If you shake too much, consider half a valium. Upon entering said competitive venture, keep your eyes up and your wits about you.

    Bad things happen to those who look down.

    And there you have it, Mr Bill’s Safety First Magic Force Field. Armed thusly, you will see and/or feel the accident coming, rather then reacting to it much to late.

    Remember: When in doubt, pull to the center and wait for the cavelry. We are never far away.

    Mr Bill

    PS: Please apply a gob of “Don’t Pull the Reins” to Uncle Bob when he comes into the ring to head for your harness class. Uncle Bob has no clue.

  13. GraceMorgn says:

    I agree with Bill on the issue. I have a pleasure driving horse and the day I am required to show wearing a helmet is the day I stop showing.

    Having said that, I was curious about the injury rates for horseback riding and came across this article. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=14466

    In summary, about 4% of the 2 million horse owners in the US are injured in horse related accidents a year. 30% of all injuries occur at an event/show. 15% of all injuries are to the head. 8.7% of people with injuries are hospitalized.

    If we assume that the rate of injury at shows is consistent with the rate for all injuries and the rate of head injuries at a show is the same as not at a show, there would be about 3550 horse related head injuries at events/shows a year. (2,000,000 owners * 4% injured * 30% at shows * 15% head injuries= 3555 head injuries at shows)

    Now, that is for all disciplines at all types of shows, so how many of those would be saddle seat related. Considering that 2.6% of all riders participate in SS and assuming no higher risk rate than any other discipline, there would be about 92 people riding saddle seat with head related injuries at shows.

    This would be across all breeds that show saddle seat, including Morgans, Saddlebred, Fresians, Arabs, Appaloossas, NSH, Tennessee Walkers, etc. at all types of shows (open, class A, 4H, etc) These statistics do not track whether the person sustaining the injury was or was not wearing a helmet.

    Just some food for thought.

    *ASHLEY*

  14. jessica says:

    Mr. Bill, you crack me up! I’m going to give that magic force field formula a try.

  15. dressagemorganrider says:

    Mr Bill, you make me laugh, even if I am very much on the other side of this issue.

    The examples I gave — well, two of them, Courtney King-Dye and Debbie McDonald — I gave precisely because these are people who do not jump, who ride dressage at the OLYMPIC level, and are VERY experienced riders and trainers, and yet purely by horsey mishaps, they both ended up with serious head injuries. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. So maybe the Morgan show world needs a World Champion trainer to suffer a serious head injury from being thrown from a horse at a big show to get the Morgan world to change over??? I really don’t want that to happen to anyone, but if that is what it takes….

    I remember right after CKD’s accident a huge debate in another forum about whether wearing a helmet with a shadbelly coat would look ridiculous. The “traditionalists” were horrified, yet after a few photos were posted of upper level riders wearing precisely that combination, more and more decided to do it, and now it’s barely commented on. Steffan Peters, another Olympic rider, wore a top hat for his competition tests at the WEG but wore a helmet at the awards ceremony, and was much praised for doing so. It’s becoming the norm in dressage and eventing and I do hope it spreads to other disciplines.

  16. Mr Bill says:

    All: It was time for a giggle, myself included.

    Ashley: Thanks for backing up my assertion (the day Ashley is required to show wearing a helmet is the day she stops showing).

    And outstanding research! If we combine those statistics with on-the-rail observations, it becomes quite obvious that the danger within our arena, the Morgan Show Ring, is negligible at best. I atest a lot of this to the sense and sensability of the Morgan Breed as a whole.

    Another good place for stats would be the number of serious head injuries the EMT’s treat at Morgan horse shows. You know they have the paperwork…

    Jessica: We often forget, and I include myself in this comment, that this whole sha-bang is about having fun. The Pro’s have to worry about putting food on the table, but the kids and amateurs are free to have a blast showing the worlds most fun breed of horse. If you’re not having fun, then we’re doing something wrong.

    Dressage Morgan Rider: I don’t think a trainer going down with a severe head injury would change much of anything, Big show or not. There’d probably be a round of applause from some parts of the stands.

    “One down, a hundred to go”!

    But seriously, I haven’t been talking about dressage. Dressage is a FAR cry from an English Pleasure or a Park Harness class. We’re talkin road apples and oranges here.

    I tried not to (honest, Erin, I really tired) but I have to say that “… if that’s what it takes” is pretty cruel, in my book. You don’t want a serious head injury to happen, but you’ll be glad if it does?

    Wow.

    Mr Bill <–certain I'll be censored for pointing that out.

  17. jessica says:

    Mr. Bill – Oh, I have fun. If I didn’t, I’d stop showing.

    Ashley – really? You’d stop showing if you had to wear a helmet? I’m sorry to hear that. I have a hard time understanding how an attire requirement could alter one’s enjoyment so much that one would quit the activity. :-(

    Well, as is usually the case, we all have strong opinions. That are unlikely to change. But at least we all love our Morgans and I think we’re all having fun with them. Right?

  18. 92 people with head injuries in a very limited discipline each year is a pretty high number. An insurance underwriter would likely consider that a significant risk. That is where the requirement for helmet use is going to come from.

    Maybe we are looking at this wrong. Bicycle helmets went from a “pot on the head” to a rather cool aerodynamic adornment. Can riding helmets do the same?

    We saw the Lippizaner Show in Knoxville last month and the riders looked magnificent in boots, cutaways and ….cocked hats. Maybe the helmet’s external appearance could be altered while still providing protection. Can a saddleseat trilby, homburg or derby be designed that incorporates the brim and crown materials as part of the “crush zone” which reduces the impact sufficient to qualify under ASTM standards? Sounds like a marketing opportunity to me.

    As far as driving, I don’t see why a woman driving a pleasure harness class can’t sport a stylish brimmed hat with a head protection shell concealed underneath.

    I think there is something more subtle going on here. If you go through the barns and warm up rings at a show you will practically never see a trainer or assistant riding with a helmet. I think it is a sub cultural thing…if you wear a helmet you are either an ammy or a pretty timid trainer (and no one will hire you).

  19. dressagemorganrider says:

    Well, that IS what it took to get the sport horse people to wake up WRT helmets. (and there are still many who grumble about the rules… and to be honest, most upper level dressage trainers do not wear helmets at home unless they’re working with a young horse or a horse known to be dangerous. Debbie McD had adopted a “helmets all the time” policy for herself after CKD’s accident, and had she not been wearing a helmet when she had her accident, she likely would have been killed.)

    The actual competitive part of dressage — the ridden test — is probably much safer than your average saddleseat class; it’s one horse at a time, and the atmosphere tends to be quiet so as to give the horse the best chance to do a good test. Some of the upper level horses are pretty HOT and it doesn’t take much to set them off. It’s the warm-up where things can get hairy, with multiple riders sometimes at very different levels all thrown together, and far too many riders seeking the secret to dressage between their horse’s ears, which is to say not paying attention to anyone else! These days, even the riders who wear top hats in their tests tend to wear helmets in warm-up.

    The helmet manufacturers are rising to the occasion and putting out a bunch of helmets that are attractive, low-profile and still safety-qualified, many with vents for the summer. I know there have been attempts to make western hats and saddleseat derbies that meet the safety standards, and these have fallen flat… but if everyone HAD to wear a helmet at shows, I suspect the companies would do it right.

  20. Mr Bill says:

    Lippizaner’s aside (apples and oranges again), you do make a great point, Chris. Hiding a helmet within a top hat, derby or snap brim would certainly close the gap between saftey and style. However, my knee-jerk research (admitedly only 5 minutes long) reveals that foam is the only way to keep the size difference to a minimum, but foam alone is no longer considered adequate protection (at least to the folks who did this research):

    http://www.futurity.org/science-technology/is-foam-a-hidden-danger-in-helmets/

    The brain bucket must have structure to protect the skull, and that structure increases the size of the hat by 40-60%. Alternatively, you could have a helmet (or hard hat) covered by a stylish faux-hat, such as this one I found on Ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQitemZ230236521233

    Now there’s a fashion statement. A little spray paint, and we’re ready for the big show! Is it legal to paint your farms logo on that? Could I sell advertsing space on it?

    Mr Bill

  21. StacyGRS says:

    I’m with Bill. No problem for w/t riders. But for everyone competing, no. There are risks in everything. And there are precautions available for anyone that chooses to use them.
    Stacy…hoping that the comment about a trainer getting hurt might be ok if it got the point across really wasn’t meant that way:(

  22. Mr Bill says:

    Incidently, here at PlayMor, where we do everything from breeding, foaling, teaching, training, hauling and showing, we’ve found the most dangerous job on the farm is collecting the stallions (we currently stand 7).

    A barn policy institured 2 years ago is whoever is on the AV now wears a helmet. I gotta admit, I wished I’d had one on few times years ago (which may explain pretty much everything about me :)

    Mr b.

  23. GraceMorgn says:

    Jessica- I really would quit showing if I had to wear a helmet. I would still love and enjoy my horse, but I show for love of the show, not just the actual driving. Attire for me is almost as much fun as the showing itself. It is the same reason equitation would be ruined for me. There is a certain level of elegance, sophistication and appeal in a wonderful driving outfit or an eq rider in a formal with whites. Those things are lost when you add a helmet to the mix. Not to mention what the harness of a helmet does to a perfectly done bun or updo. The whole picture (which is a judged part of equitation) is ruined.

    As Stacy pointed out, everything is dangerous and has risks. A gymnast tumbles through the air on a four inch wide elevated wood beam and doesn’t wear a helmet. Divers hurdle themselves off 151 ft high boards while somersaulting and spinning and don’t wear helmets. And the list goes on.

    *ASHLEY*

  24. Mr Bill says:

    The tradition of elegance! You’ve got it, Ashley!

  25. Mr Bill says:

    Oh, man, am I going to make some people happy with this. Ashley, hang on to your hat, er, helmet, dear.

    It turns out that this push to helmet every participant who rides, drives OR LEADS a horse in competition is not coming from USEF itself, but from the states. I learned this evening that in the state of New York, THE LAW IS ALREADY ON THE BOOKS. It’s virtualy ignored at horse shows right now, but not for long.

    Recently, there was an injury where a equine particpant broke their arm during a spill. In the ambulance, on the way to the hospital, the EMT was running through a list of standard questions for the injured party. When asked whether they were wearing a helmet at the time, the answer was no.

    Later on, the insurance company refused to pay. How a helmet would have prevented a broken arm is beyond my meager imagination, but apparatly the tactic is working. It’s the states who throwing this blanket over all equine activities, as many are held on public property (State Fairgrounds and the like).

    The prevailing wisdom (I had dinner with people smarter then I, and much better connected to the powers that be at USEF) is that by 2013, if not sooner, this will be the law of the land. The only way to avoid this travesty of elegance would be to lobby each and every state for an exception.

    [sigh]

    Besdies Ashley, I can think of about a dozen gals off the top of my head who are going to be freaked out by this. :)

    We came to the conclussion at the end of dinner that it’s Howie Shatzburg who is going to bare the brunt of the financial burden this rule will bare. Picture sales are going to drop drasticly! We also brainstormed possible camouflage… Giant Wigs?

    Yee gads, the world as I know it is coming to an end. Time to either join this century, or step off, stage left.

    :)

  26. Mr Bill says:

    …and then he did his due diligence, and actualy looked up the NY State Law. It was enacted in 2000, and hasn’t been updated since.

    1265 1. NO PERSON LESS THAN FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE SHALL RIDE A HORSE UNLESS SUCH PERSON IS WEARING A HELMET…

    The fine is $50, and the law is not enforced. There is no mention of competitions or venues.

    In 2009, the state of Florida mandated helmets for youths under the age of 16 “…when riding on public roads and rights of way and while taking riding lessons. Rodeos, parades and private property are exempt.”

    It’s a $500 fine, and I have no idea if it’s ever been applied.

    And that’s the facts, Jack. The Nanny state has not yet won.

    Mr Bill <–whos head looks like a helmet anyway…

  27. smskelly says:

    Yes, this is being driven from OUTSIDE of the equine community. I think it is very important that people realize this.

    The law that Mr Bill notes for NYS is contained within the Vehicle and Traffic laws (VAT 1265). Interesting place for it. Does it apply when the rider is not on a public road?

  28. dressagemorganrider says:

    Insurance companies that sell policies to barns also insist on helmets for everyone, or at the very least helmets for minors, in my area. Not that this is 100% enforced (e.g. have ridden at two fairly well-known dressage barns now where the head trainers don’t wear helmets and don’t require others to do so), but it’s there, and I’d imagine a BO would be SOL if they were sued after an accident in which the injured party was not wearing a helmet. My barn holds schooling shows and I’ve seen my BO ask people to leave if they are not wearing helmets, though generally they can stay if they put them on. One small local barn is not welcome at our shows because of too many riders not wearing helmets, and trainer refusing to make them do so, even after multiple warnings.

    I cannot blame the insurance companies. Pay-out for a severe head injury is going to run into the millions of dollars, and insurance companies are in the business of betting your premium money.

    Ashley, the dressage world had exactly the same reaction as you when it appeared top hats would be banned. For the most part, they’ve gotten used to the idea (and top hats are not banned at the FEI levels anyway.) There are elegant “show bows” for dressage riders and most can be worn with helmets. I’ve even heard of short-haired women buying fake hair so they can wear a show bow with their helmets :)

  29. Ignitor says:

    Well Bill It looks like there is a new business a brewing here. Helmet wigs, Helmet Hats.. endless possibilities. ;)

    Funny..the baby boomer generation… we climbed trees w/o helmets.. Rode crazy ponies w/o helmets. ..Rode bikes w/o helmets. We are just fine.
    So I guess when our generation is committed to a nursing homes we will need a helmet just to operate our Wheelchair. Hey Bill wanna race????

  30. Ignitor: The point is that you, me and Bill survived w/out injury, so it is natural to think that everyone else survived w/out injury as well. Not True. There are Baby Boomers “living” in state hospitals who were not so lucky.

  31. Just one other comment: funny how a larger political/social question can impact our small group-if the states are beginning to push helmet laws, as stated above, it is probably driven by concern over Medicaid budgets which are a big problem in this economy. I think a state Medicaid budget director would have very little patience with an aesthetic argument against mandated helmets when he is looking at the long-term costs to the state (Taxpayers) of caring for a brain-damaged rider.

    I certainly expect to see motorcycle helmet laws tighten up as well, as I see them as a much larger problem than horse riders. When you ride a motorcycle, it is only a question of “when” you have a crash, not “if” you have a crash.

  32. colwilrin says:

    Mr. Bill

    NY State Law. Helmet use is only required on state roads. No statute requires it on private property or on state land. The only other required use by statute is the requirement that those leasing horses to ride must supply the rider with a helmet.

    In NY, you are NOT required to use a helmet any place other than a road.

  33. colwilrin says:

    Bill – should have read your second post first.

    I don’t believe the health insurance bit. I’d have to see the rejection letter from the company first. If treatment for self-inflicted stupid injuries were not reimbursed, I would be broke. The ambulatory care center knows my son by name.

    I also question the percentage that was figured out for head injuries at Morgan shows – or for SS riders. In the 30+ years I have shown, I have known of ONE head injury that occurred on a show grounds which a helmet might have lessened… ONE in 30 years. Pretty slim odds.

    Next business idea….how about some insurance business owners, who also have horses, start underwriting shows.

  34. dressagemorganrider says:

    I was talking about liability insurance, not health insurance. You bet a health insurance company will go after a BO’s liability insurance coverage if they’re covering a head injury that happened at BO’s place.

    When I returned to riding, I was shocked at the number of riders and barn workers who do not have health insurance at all. And you **know** who pays if one of those folks has an accident and gets “free care” in the ER — the taxpayers. Not to mention that a severe traumatic brain injury is going to cost enough that a person may run up against their health insurance coverage limit…. and once again, when the injured person and their family run out of insurance and money, that person becomes a Medicaid patient… and/or a Medicare patient if s/he is disabled and ends up on SSDI. Again — your tax dollars and mine pay for this.

    I do genuinely worry that at some point the insurance issues will become so great that riding horses will be nigh well impossible. Already know of a couple of barns that shut down or stopped boarding others’ horses because the cost of liability insurance was so high, and a couple others that do not allow children because of insurance issues.

  35. colwilrin says:

    Health insurance companies may apply for a lien on any personal injury claim. This is common in everything from construction accidents to auto injury. They usually collect from any award or settlement amount given to the injured party, or is negotiated away by the attorneys. My above comment re: health insurance was directed at Mr. Bill’s comment re: someone claiming health insurance refused to pay for treatment of a broken arm due to not using a helmet.

    Free care in the ER, Medicaid/Medicare for the TBI (traumatic brain injury). Yes, this can happen if one does not have health insurance, or is permanentlay disabled. However, I really don’t think the number of TBI Morgan riders is going to bankrupt the system or take a dent out of my paycheck. The second and now third generation Medicaid recipients are already doing a good job of that. I wouldn’t even notice a Morgan person or two amidst the hundreds of thousands of people on public assistance.

    I think the big insurance answer is to have our own people, who can comprehend the difference in risk between a western pleasure exhibitor and a cross country rider, operate equine activity insurance companies and underwrite sane and sensible policies that protect against the actual assessed risk and also preserve some of an adult’s freedom of choice. Maybe find out who insures ski resorts…they certainly have a MUCH higher rate of head injury, and even death, and this season none of the resorts I went to required I wear a helmet.

    What about college and olympic pole vaulters, high divers, surfers, pro wrestlers, ATV users, ice-skaters, indoor rock climbing, raquetball…someone is insuring these people without helmet use.

    Still have yet to hear a good enough reason to allow a governing body who has done ZERO risk analysis to stomp on my individual rights. Life is dangerous, and ultimately fatal. An adult should be able to assume a little risk now and again without someone running up and trying to roll them in bubble-wrap.

  36. Mr Bill says:

    Colwilrin: I heard this anecdote (arm broken while not wearing helmet) 3rd hand. It was brought forth as argument in support of mandatory helmet rules by somewhere within USEF, so consider the source. I agree, it sounds to preposterous to be true.

    ~

    Non helmet item: Trust me, if Trainers actually charged what it cost to run a fully insured, properly protected business with full time employees who earned salary and benefits commensurate with the hours, effort and responsibility demanded of them, Training would start at $2,000/month, with lots of Board on top. That’s why so many trainers nickel and dime their clients to death (a personal pet peeve of mine). It’s the only way to keep food on the table.

    One of the ways Sammi & I survived the first 20 years of training horses for a living was by never carrying health insurance, even on our 2 kids. There were a few accidents and Sammi had a couple of surgeries. Made it rough sledding at times. But, trust me, my kids got shots, checkups and regular dental care. We simply sold a horse (or three) to pay the bills. Was I lucky? Ab-so-lutely. But we were committed to living the life, you know, The Dream: Morgan Horses, 24/7.

    Many trainers are just as committed (and should be). [yes, that's a double entendre]. I think that fact is lost on Morgan horse owners.

    Now, back to helmets: In the state of Florida, the helmet law mandates that helmets must be worn by youths under the age of 16, BUT, it’s only mandated when the kids are riding on public roads and rights of way, or while taking riding lessons. The ridiculous part: RODEOS, PARADES AND PRIVATE PROPERTY are exempt. Where do horse shows lay within that law? They are defacto exempt too. What about those kids? Is their health and welfare not as important? Are there lives somehow more expendable?

    The law is Bull Shit unless it covers all kids, everywhere, all the time. This is the hypocrisy the Nanny State. As Colwilrin points out, New York’s law is just as hypocritical. If you want to protect them by mandate, then protect them ALL, no exceptions. Anything less is merely cowing to an insurance industry and health care system that wants to save every penny they can, on your back, on your head, and in your home.

    ~

    Big Picture: With instant access to pictures and stories and videos of the horrendous things that happen to we humans on a daily, hourly… hell, minute by minute basis, the carnage seems to be rampant everywhere. My heart is just as broken as yours when I see a child maimed after falling from a horse.

    But we all ignore the FACT that, at the same time, on the same day, somehow, 2,000,000 other people, many of them children, managed to ride their horses without the risk of bodily harm or death ever entering their minds.

    They rode, they smiled, they lived… without any assistance from the government.

    Amazing.

    Mr Bill

    PS I’ve got a facebook helmet rant going. You gotta see my mom wearing a helmet (but don’t tell her about it).

    http://www.facebook.com/PlayMorBill#!/PlayMorBill

  37. khummel says:

    Those saddle seat and cowboy helmets are way more unattractive than a simple helmut. My girls that ride here look very attractive in their hot pink helmets but they are attractive girls anyway so iit looks just fin The parents are happy and I don’t have to lose them to hunt seat riding for the sake of a helmet. I will miss the boys in their little Don Harris hats like my boys showed in.

  38. khummel says:

    Agreed if I have to wear helmet and show a horse at my age I quit Kids are one thing but not ME !

  39. rodmanstables says:

    I’m sorry, but if having to wear a helmet would stop anyone from showing horses altogether…wow. That’s amazing.

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