I started taking riding lessons when I was ten years old. My instructor told my parents that I needed a helmet and boots, so we drove out to a tack shop in Burbank and made those first exciting purchases. The helmet we ended up with didn't fit very well. It left a red mark on my forehead and gave me a headache, but I was young and oblivious. Pain, what pain? I was just happy to be riding!
A few years later I made the transition from riding in adult-supervised lessons to riding borrowed horses on my own. I was no longer immune to helmet pain, and since there was no adult around to enforce the rules, I just stopped wearing it. Of course it was during this time that I also stopped using saddles,
My friends and I did wear our helmets every now and again, but that was usually when we were doing something so spectacularly stupid that even we know it was dangerous. Here's one example--back to back bareback riding on a horse who was not quiet. Yes, we actually trotted and cantered this way!
Fortunately, we survived. We even learned a bit from our mistakes. By the time I had graduated from college and moved to Tennessee, all those brave/crazy riding antics were just a memory. I was riding really nice horses at serious show barns...
and it was important to look and act responsible. This is me in my 1990's era riding wear--custom chaps, Grand Prix paddock boots and a Millers t-shirt. Still no helmet, though!
Surprisingly most of the places where I rode didn't have helmet rules. Occasionally, however, I'd find myself among the safety conscious.
Since I worked at a tack shop, it shouldn't have been difficult to buy myself a helmet, but that wasn't the case. Although the shop carried many brands and styles, none of them fit my head properly.
I ended up with this "For Apparel Only" Lexington H425. Unlike most of the other helmets, this one didn't give me a headache. That was good. What wasn't good was that it was too long from front to back and also too deep. It would tip way down on my forehead making it hard for me to see. I wore it when I was required to have a helmet, but otherwise it stayed in its box.More time passed. I got married, moved back to Colorado and had a couple kids. I didn't ride much for several years, and when I started up again, it was without a helmet. This was as much by circumstance as choice. I did go helmet shopping on several occasions, but invariably I was presented with a bunch of helmets that didn't fit. The whole thing seemed impossible so I just kept on riding bareheaded.
Still, there were times when I found myself on a very young...
or very green horse and it would occur to me that I really ought to be more careful. As those thoughts became more and more common, I decided to get serious about my helmet search. I started making the rounds of all the local tack shops looking for a schooling helmet that fit. None of them did, but I didn't give up. I tried on every helmet I could find and eventually I did fine one that worked. Unfortunately that one already belonged to someone else, but I got the pertinent information and found a tack shop that would special order it for me.
My new helmet arrived this week. I was almost afraid to try it on. There have been so many false starts in this search but I am pleased to report that it fits! It really fits! For the first time in thirty one years of riding, I have a helmet that fits!
I will continue to post the occasional old picture of me atop a horse without a helmet. These photos bring back so many good memories, and although I know that some of them are Fugly Horse of the Day fodder, I really don't care. We were young and invincible. Our horses were much loved and generally well cared for given our teenage limitations. Even on our worst days, I don't think they suffered too much from our craziness.