About 9 years ago I was a professional horseback riding instructor. I had my own schooling horses and facilities. Most of my students were children. It was up to me with the encouragement of my insurance company, that riding helmets be worn during the lessons regardless of discipline, western or English.
When scheduling the lessons for the week, I would always mention to my students to make sure they brought their riding helmet. If they did not bring one I would supply one for the lesson. Most of the students that were serious about the sport bought their own helmets. They only cost about $25 – $60 so it is a good investment.
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Every once and awhile I would get a new student who would show up with a bicycle helmet. Some of the boys would show up with motocross helmet and I would have to explain to them that those types of helmets were made for a different sport and were not certified for horseback riding. I had one parent argue the fact that the motocross helmet was much stronger than the riding helmets that I supplied. I told him that they probably were but the weight of the helmet and the problem seeing out of it would put the student in danger on a horse.
If you have ever ridden a horse and come off of that horse and hit the ground, you would know what part of your body would hit first and it is usually the back of your head. It is for that reason that horseback riding helmets are made to protect the back of the head while bicycle helmets mainly protect the top of the head (don’t ask me why since bicyclists have to worry about cars and pavement).
It was about 5 years before I became a professional riding instructor that I started to wear a riding helmet. You see, I rode western and wearing a helmet 20 years ago in western riding was thought of a odd or down right nuts. I started riding with a helmet after I came off of a horse out on a public trail. I hit the back of my head and was scared of a concussion. I bought a helmet within a week. At that time I was not wearing it when I rode in the arena at the stable. I only wore it out on trail rides. When I became a riding instructor I started to wear my helmet as an example for my students and the good habit I developed from that stayed with me.