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Helmet Use Survey

Hello equestrians! I’m a researcher at UIC College of Medicine and fellow equestrian interested in learning more about equestrian’s attitudes toward helmet use. If you ride, drive, or participate in activities with horses at any level, in any way, I’d like to hear from you. Please consider taking this brief, anonymous survey.


Koren Ganas, PsyD
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences Education
University of Illinois College of Medicine – Rockford


Done. Curious as to how ppl answered the question re their ability to predict their horses actions . I can read horses well but Im not sure anyone can reliably predict all actions.

One of the disciplines I ride requires a helmet; Foxhunting --the other does not; Mounted Archery. I wear one any time I’m on a horse. But I’m old and don’t care what “other people” think —I’ve seen too many people with brain injuries . . .not necessarily from horses, but not something I want if I can do anything to prevent it.


Every ride. Because anything can happen with any horse and I prefer my brain sunny side up, not scrambled.


I found the rubric for riding level interesting. Wondered where it comes from, as I saw the exact same wording on a trail ride site recently. Is this an official descriptor from some society or body, or was it just borrowed?

For the purposes of assessing risk in a trail riding situation, these are good descriptors.

But it just got me thinking about how difficult it is to write really good rubrics for riding level.

For instance, many people with bad form and little understanding of aids are still good trail riders of spirited horses in open country. But I’d never call them advanced riders in a general sense.

On the other hand, training horses and riding green or problem horses is not something restricted to pros! Many intermediate and advanced amateurs do this. Also the definition of pro is not really compete in high level conpey since honestly, most pros don’t get above lower level competition then sideline that to give kiddy lessons.

Anyhow got me thinking about how many separate criteria go into making up an evalyation of riding ability.

There is seat, use of aids, tact, ability to train. Then there is confidence and level of innate fear. Then there is effectiveness and drive to get it done. Then there are natural factors of body type and past limiting injuries.

Sometimes it’s clear that Susie is a better rider than Betsy. But sometimes Susie has tact but no courage, while Betsy has a sticky seat and good horse sense, but rough hands. Etc.

Scribbler, I thought the riding level description was interesting too. I had to take “advanced beginner” because I don’t do problem horses. If I were single, I wouldn’t date problem men, either. Life’s too short to borrow trouble.:lol:

What did y’all answer about what factor would be most likely to increase helmet use? I’m usually the only rider or one of a very few wearing a helmet in either my classes at shows (trail and ranch horse) or among my riding buddies. I don’t care, but I suspect that peer pressure may be the reason more people don’t wear them.

Or maybe they just didn’t grow up wearing a helmet. I don’t wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, even though I know it’s probably a good idea, because I rode a bike without a helmet every day of my life from the time I was five until I was old enough to drive a car. My husband, who took up cycling later in life, is an every-time, every-ride kind of helmet wearer.

Every ride, and doesn’t matter if I’m climbing on a green horse or ol’ trusty rusty.




I think helmet use varies between discipline. If you do jumping or dressage lessons or jusy riding today, you get used to having a helmet on every time. You buy helmets that fit well, you may pay upwards of $500 to get a good fit, and you just feel naked without one. And you stop caring how you look in your helmet just like you stop caring how you look in beige or white breeches :). Helmets are just in the culture.

If you do western or trail riding, not so much.

We never wore helmets as feral kids 40 years ago, but then we rarely fell off and didn’t jump other than random logs.

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Interesting that this was posted in Western forum which I would assume has a lower percentage of regular helmet wearers than other disciplines such as hunter/jumper and eventing. I strongly feel that riders would be more likely to wear helmets if their “idols” top riders/trainers would start wearing helmets (are there any top western trainers that do)? I have encountered a lot of “I’m going to start wearing one when I’m riding two year olds” as well as a friend who has had multiple concussions from falls who will wear a helmet for about a month after said concussion then it disappears. Also the myth that if you wear a helmet your horse isn’t trained, Courtney King Dye anyone?



Also the tax payers are paying for your TBI when your insurance runs out so your failure to wear a helmet is not a decision that only impacts you.

A helmet will not save you in every circumstance, however, it can certainly help. There have been numerous testimonials on these forums from those who report that wearing a helmet saved a life or avoided/reduced injury. If you care about yourself and your loved ones, please please wear a helmet.

OK stepping off of my soap box…


IME, helmet use is still low across Western disciplines.


Wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle is not “probably a good idea.” It could save your life. When I was growing up in the 60’s/70’s none of the kids in my neighborhood wore bike helmets (I’m not sure you even could have bought one at the local bike shop). Recreational alpine skiers did not wear helmets. When horseback riding, we only wore helmets in a show or for jumping (and they were pretty lousy helmets back then).

Times have changed and we have much better technology. I have worn a helmet for cycling since the early 80’s when the “skid lid” came out. I have worn a helmet for horseback riding every ride since I re-entered the sport in the 90’s. I am a life long skier who never used to ski with a helmet but about 5 years ago I started wearing a helmet for Alpine skiing as well. It is one simple step we can all take for our own safety.


Completed. :slight_smile:

Just wanted to say that as I was growing up and in high school and college, I was never required (by instructors, barns, or my parents) to wear a helmet, so I never did. At the barn where I ride now it is a requirement and my two girls are required (by me, even if we aren’t at the barn where we ride) to wear helmets. Due to the combination of these things, I now wear a helmet and feel foolish (and lucky!) that I didn’t for so long. I want to set a good example for my kiddos – you’re on a horse? You have a helmet on, period.


I did not grow up wearing a helmet but I do require all riders under 18 at my barn to wear one and encourage adult riders to do so also. I am better than I used to be about wearing one but do not do so all of the time even though I know I should. Yes, I have had a severe concussion while riding. I ride Western, English, jump a little, trail ride, timed events, have young, old and middle aged horses.





Now if anyone can really predict equine reaction under any and all circumstances, please stand up!

Best horse trainer I ever met ended up with permanent brain damage from a horse accident. He was in a coma for weeks and is disabled for life now after coming out of it. The entire injury from that fall could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. I never ride without one, no exceptions.