Thursday, March 19, 2009


By now most folks have heard about the untimely death of Natasha Richardson resulting from a fall on the ski slopes. Media reports indicate that her spill was nothing spectacular and that she was quickly back on her feet -- appearing to be fine. Except she wasn't okay.

Back in the olden days when I was boarding Kiyara at a hunter barn, our practice was to line up our helmets and crops along the top of the gate while we did our "flat" work. When it was time to begin the jumping phase of the lesson, we migrated to the gate to put on our helmets and pick up our "persuader" of choice. Then Trainer Janet had a bad accident while training a young horse. Alone in the arena, she suffered a concussion and a serious back injury. She recovered -- but from that point on we all began wearing our helmets when in the saddle, whether warming up on the flat or working over fences. A few years later when we hosted a US Pony Club chapter, we adults believed it was wise to set an example by wearing our helmets when riding. Plus, it was the smart thing to do.

I have a young friend whose life was saved by his motorcycle helmet.

I do not understand any adult who allows their child to go without a helmet on horseback, bicycle, ATV, skiing, etc.

"It's my personal choice whether or not I wear a helmet," counter some adults.

Well, actually, it isn't. It's my health insurance premium that goes up when benefits are paid out to non-helmet folks who file a claim for injuries that could have been prevented or reduced. It's my tax money that goes into the pool for state and federal disability benefits. It's society as a whole that suffers when people are permanently disabled mentally and physically by brain injuries that could have been avoided by the use of a helmet (not to mention the devastation to the affected family).

Natasha Richardson didn't expect to die from her skiing lesson on the beginner slope. No one expects to end up a "vegetable" when they set out on their motorcycle, bike, ATV, skateboard, horse, etc. Devastating, life-changing accidents happen to other people, not me. Until it is you.

When we know better, we do better. So many sporting activities now have lightweight, approved helmets at a reasonable price that there's no reason to go without one.

When PRCA bull riders start wearing helmets, neck rolls and crash know it's approved "macho" attire!

1 comment:

Shared Glory said...

Oh my gosh, her accident really hit home for me and my mom with Steven's whole deal. It just shows to me how much we DON'T know about the brain and how it works. Steven himself had a slight concussion snowboarding once...even figure skaters can really do some damage to themselves. Until we know how to cure every ailment, helmets are a must for sports!!! They have started making them look cool too...