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Let’s Not Forget: Horseback Riding is Dangerous

Let’s Not Forget: Horseback Riding is Dangerous

We’ll get to the title in a minute, but we have so much to tell you, I don’t even know where to start!

We had a GREAT day of trail riding on Saturday. Our horse friend Shari, who was not in the market for a new horse, bought one: a Tennessee Walking Horse! A very large, jet-black one that looks strikingly like Valentine. Shari jokes that when she and I go trail riding on our own, we’ll take our “big black steeds.” (She doesn’t have a name for him yet, so if you have any suggestions, send them our way; he’s a sweetheart, 8-year-old gelding, all black with a star and white pasterns on both rear feet. His temporary name is “Spot,” so he’s badly in need of a new one.)

We bought a horse too! Cash. Yes, he tried to run away from us, but we decided he probably didn’t mean anything by it. In fact, we decided to buy him the day he escaped. He is just such a good horse, in so many ways. So when we started out on our trail ride, Bill rode Cash.

So who did I ride, you wonder? Well, even though we decided to get Cash, we just liked Romeo so much we weren’t ready to let him go yet. His owners also had a saddle for sale that we’d like to try, so we took Romeo and the saddle on our trail ride. I rode Romeo for the first part of the ride. Dayle came too (Romeo’s owner), riding her mare Katie.

So there we were, three of us on three new horses. Fun, huh? The first excitement was when Shari dismounted to open a gate and Spot swung back toward us; Cash spooked, which spooked Romeo, and we all swung around. No big deal – we’re all getting to know each other, after all. Then we started out with a creek, so see how Spot handled water (we already knew Romeo didn’t mind it, and Cash of course crossed the creek any number of times during his afternoon stroll on Monday). Spot didn’t like it. Shari had to get off to lead him through, but after that he was fine. We crossed a bridge, rode through a variety of terrain, had a canine escort (Dayle’s dog Oreo – Cash didn’t like it but tolerated him). No problems at all.

Bill had a great time with Cash, and I love riding Romeo. I wouldn’t have wanted to switch, in fact, if the saddle we were trying hadn’t become uncomfortable. But it did, so we switched mid-ride. We met some cows, took a break under some trees and let Spot and Cash sniff each other. Again, no problems. Then it got REALLY exciting.

We decided to let the horses drink from the creek. I started to ride Cash through the trees, thinking that it was just some leafy branches. I didn’t realize until it was too late that there was a large branch in the midst of the leaves. I didn’t have the grip I should’ve on the reins, so I couldn’t stop Cash in time to save me from being swept off the saddle. Off I went, sliding right under Cash’s feet. To make matters worse, the reins caught on the branch, preventing Cash from moving away. I looked up as I fell and saw those hooves right above me, and I swear, I thought I was a goner. Shari was sure I was about to be stepped on too; I think it looked pretty bad from where she was watching. Dayle was nearly as alarmed. (Bill, on the other hand, made what seemed like a pretty insensitive joke when I got up; he’d missed the whole thing.)

But the amazing thing was that Cash deliberately tucked his hooves up under himself to keep from stepping on me. I’d heard that horses do that instinctively, and it turns out it’s true. I said a little prayer of thanks for that, and silently thanked Bill too for making us wear our geeky helmets even though no one else does, then hugged and kissed Cash and announced that we are definitely keeping him. I love that horse!

Oh, and we’re keeping Romeo too. He’s just too good a horse to pass up too, and…shhh, don’t tell him, but…the Kid’s going to learn to ride, and Romeo’s just the horse to teach him. Besides, it’s a nice change of pace for me to have a horse that I don’t need help getting up on. And when I’m done bragging on Cash for not maiming or killing me, you’ll hear lots of praise about Romeo.

But for now…I love that Cash. He’s the best! And don’t forget to wear a helmet, even though it looks dorky and your head sweats and you get helmet hair. Because remember: it’s always dangerous to ride a horse.

Why are horse helmets for guys so dorky?

Why are horse helmets for guys so dorky?

Here’s a plea to Troxel and other horse helmet manufacturers. Please, for the sake of all that is manly, please make a horse helmet for guys that doesn’t look so dorky. I spent weeks and maybe months looking for a good helmet. I ended up with very nice Troxel helmet that I like very much except for one thing. It’s GIANT…I mean watermelon huge. Hey, my head isn’t THAT big. All the girl helmets look cool but the guy helmets look stupid. And I’m guessing that’s one of the biggest reasons I never…that’s right NEVER see guys wearing helmets. Girls don’t wear them much around here either but you see more girls than guys wearing them. I’m still a newbie and I’m still riding horses I don’t have a long history with so for me it seems a helmet is a must. But I hate looking like a dork wearing one.

So Troxel, are you listening? Surely you can make something that’s safe and still looks good on guys. Help us guys keep our manliness and save a few brain injuries while you’re at it. 

Horse rider head injury

Horse rider head injury

MelonA friend of ours called us the other day to relay a story that happened on her street a few days ago. A local girl was out riding her horse on this small country road not far from here. She put a blanket on the horse and went for a ride using a lead rope as reigns. I bet you can guess this didn’t end well. Her horse spooked, dumping her onto the paved road where she was found some time later, bleeding from her ears. Her horse was standing nearby. She was airlifted to a hospital an hour away and is recovering. But it could have been far worse. I don’t have the statistics on head injuries handy but most of the serious injuries I hear of involve head trauma. Yet on trail rides and at events, I rarely see anyone wearing a helmet. Why is that?

Last year I hopped on top of Moonshine for a photo opportunity. I was wearing shorts and sneakers and Moonshine was bare, except for a lead rope. I believe my famous last words were “I’m king of the world!”, followed by me coming to on the ground. For whatever reason, Moonshine dumped me off of her back and I was fortunate to have not hit my head. But I could have and I might not be writing this today.

For Christmas last year, I gave Mikki a nice Troxel Dakota Duratec helmet, complete with leather trim and all the modern fixings. We’re still new to this whole horse thing and I knew we’d be riding our horses soon. It’s a long way up, especially on Valentine and after my fall, a helmet seemed like a good idea. Now that I’m starting to ride, I decided I needed a helmet too so today I bought the less expensive Troxel Spirit training helmet. My head is apparently big so I got a large and an hour later I tried it on at home. The fitting was met with snickers and I figured out why when I looked in the mirror. This helmet is HUGE. I looks like I have a shiny black watermelon on my head. In fact, it looks ridiculous. Remember Rick Moranis in the giant Darth Vader helmet in Spaceballs? That’s how I felt wearing this thing. How could this be? Mikki’s helmet, a medium, looks so cool on her. The foam on the Spirit is almost twice as thick as the Dakota and it really increases the size of the helmet. Mikki is going to exchange the Spirit for a Dakota tomorrow so I don’t feel as much like a goober. I don’t want an excuse to not wear a helmet.

When you have a chance, check out the testimonials on the Troxel Helmet website from horse riders whose lives were saved by a helmet. Several of the stories are from people who said they’ve ridden all their lives and their horse was normally calm until one day something happened and they were dumped onto their head. There’s no question in my mind that a helmet is a wise idea. Fortunately there are style options to keep you and me from feeling goofy but either way, be safe and protect your head, just in case the unexpected happens. And try that new helmet on in front of a mirror before you leave the store!

Melon Photo by Kenny Timmer on Unsplash