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Each year in the US, 70,000 people turn up in emergency rooms with injuries related to equestrian activities and of those 12,000 are head injuries. In fact, as hard to believe as this may be, horseback riders suffer the same injury rate as motorcycle riders. This from the Equestrian Medical Safety Association (ESMA).

HMH is joining equestrian publications around the world in support of International Helmet Awareness Day which takes place June 11, 2011. Riders 4 Helmets, a nonprofit equestrian safety website is working to raise awareness by encouraging helmet manufacturers to offer discounts, give-aways and special incentives to equestrians from all disciplines.

To be honest, it’s only been a couple of years since I began wearing a helmet and even then I’ve been selective about wearing it. A helmet for english riding seems perfectly normal but for western riding a helmet always felt out of place.

An event this past week however has changed all that. My mare Grace and I were riding out in the woods on a blustery day when a tree branch decided to come down right next to us; she jumped and I didn’t! It was a silly accident, I came right off and landed flat on my back.

Fortunately for me I was wearing a helmet as the whiplash effect sent the back of my head into the ground pretty hard. Without the helmet, my “silly accident” could have easily resulted in a brain injury.

I can’t honestly say how many times I’ve come off a horse- there have been many horses and many falls over the past forty years! This was one of the most innocuous of my spills and ironically it likely would have resulted in the most serious injury.

So after my ‘fall from Grace’, a new helmet is on the way, as now that my old one has taken a hit it needs to be replaced. I’m opting for one of the new western styles this time. You’ll find all sorts of useful information below in the links section. Nobody wants to come off their horse but if you do, it’s a relief to find the only thing injured was your ego!

Tracy Schumer is the editor of High Minded Horseman. A Florida native and lifetime horse enthusiast, she is currently based in Europe where she rides dressage, enjoys carriage driving and is always on the hunt for new experiences with horses.

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