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Skiing, motorcycle, bicycle and horseback riding accidents remain a source of new patients for orthopedic surgeons. We see everything from the simple sprain and fracture to the devastated bodies of the victims of these often high-velocity accidents.

Whether due to the impact with another vehicle or to the collision with the hard and unforgiving ground, head injuries can can be life-changing… even fatal.

As an equestrienne, I take some comfort that my four-legged friend has no desire to fall down. And those four legs give him three with which to recover himself when he trips. Nonetheless, I’ve sustained several injuries which have cost me time off from work and permanent damage to delicate joints, which will eventually become arthritic. These injuries may always remind me of those scary moments in which either my horse didn’t stay on the ground, or the two of us became separated. Fortunately we have arms, legs and shoulders that can protect us to a certain degree. However in the final analysis, this is not always enough, because in addition to devastated bodies, doctors continue to see injured heads.

The only way for your head to have a chance is to wear a helmet.

Wearing a helmet in western equestrian sports is, sadly, considered to be un-cowboy-like. I would like to see this changed. I wear a helmet–at all times–when I practice and ride for leisure, which is 99.9 percent of the time. Admittedly I wear a traditional cowboy hat to compete, which is less than one percent of the time.

For skiers, cowboys, cyclists and motorcycle riders, there is really no excuse not to wear a helmet. Going without is one percent about comfort and 99 percent about vanity… There’s nothing attractive about a head injury.

Helmet or a head injury? Your choice!


  • Esther Zimmer November 2, 2017 at 9:01 am

    As a fellow equestrienne, I appreciate this post. I’m sure my hard hat saved me from a terrible head injury years ago, I walked away with a concussion, but my hat was split into two pieces. I see women riding their bikes around London, looking super-stylish with their flowing locks (no helmet, of course) and even dresses and heels (!!) and I can’t help wondering how the hell vanity could ever be more important than protecting this precious thing we call life. Esther xx

  • 1010ParkPlace November 2, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I raced cars for nine years and helmets were regulation. No one has a problem with that. Funny how wearing street clothes–as opposed to a Nomex driving suit–makes people think they don’t need a helmet. Essie… high heels riding bikes? I’m not sure they have a lot of intelligence left to protect. xoxo, Brenda

  • Donna O’Klock November 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Thank you for your wise words and perfect timing. After a spill off my bike in which I badly bruised my hip and thigh, I wondered, “What if it had been my head?”
    I’m going to buy a helmet before I ride again.

  • Alana November 2, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Amen to that. There is nothing stylish at all about seizures, or the other after effects of a TBI (traumatic brain injury). I should know, as my father (not related to sports) suffered one during his military service in World War II, and lived with its effects for the rest of his life.

  • Haralee November 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Since I am a bicyclist and when I see other cyclists not wearing a helmet I cringe! Like you say it is vanity or thinking it is just a short jaunt but a brain injury could happen in a fall and not worth it!

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