Monday, June 16, 2008


"There are things worse than death," said our neighbor as he trimmed our horses' hooves. He was thinking of his son, "Nick" After a safe tour of duty in Iraq, Nick was in an ATV accident while out riding with his buddies late at night. He wasn't wearing a helmet. The blow to his head changed him forever. His mom sits by his side every day, measuring a good day by a twitch in his eyes or a movement of a finger in response to a question. It could have been so different.

A young motorcyclist once told me that he chose not to wear a helmet. It was his life, he said, and if he died, he was the one to pay. If that was true, I'd call that "natural selection". Don't let the dumb ones reproduce. But, the victim doesn't always die. Sometimes, the victim's family has to watch the injured lay there and hang onto a shred of hope that he'll recover, knowing as the days pass so passes that chance.

Lauren called me in a shaky voice last Wednesday. Anna had been bucked from her horse and had hit her head. She was physically okay, but she was developing memory loss. After a long day at the hospital, it was confirmed that she had suffered a concussion but with no bleeding. The lining of her helmet was cracked right up the backside. Dh wondered if it had a warranty on it. I told him yes, that we'd just cashed it in: it saved her life. (The photo shows the crack on the inside shell of the helmet.) Today, she is fine with a few scrapes to show for her ordeal.

I don't understand, really I don't, why I still see adults ride ATVs, bicycles and horses without helmets. Aside from the poor example you set for children, you risk everything you are and your child's mom or dad. I myself would be dead or worse had I not been wearing a helmet 10 years back when my head hit the road when I fell from my horse. And for children, it should be a non-negotiable set-in-stone rule of riding anything, including casual sitting on the horse or vehicle in the yard.
And for all you folks that want to send me (again) the email about how when you were a child in the "good ol' days", you didn't wear a seatbelt or carseat, jumped off roofs, ate lead paint and generally took no safety precautions, you were the lucky ones. Some people aren't here to forward those emails because they didn't survive. Wear your helmets!


Kristina said...

I am so glad Anna is okay. I do not understand why parents don't force their children to wear helmets. Some things are just non-negotiable.

Our son has made himself a pariah in the neighborhood by telling several of the kids they were stupid to not wear helmets. Well, perhaps he could have worded it a bit differently, but he was right.

pita-woman said...

Am very thankful Anna's going to be okay.
I'm guilty of not wearing a helmet to ride my bicycle (which is rarely ridden), but know I should. It too always amazes me when I see people zipping down the interstates on motorcycles w/out a helmet. And I'm one of those that probably wouldn't wear a helmet if going on a trail-ride, even though I know I should. I've not been on a horse in years (fortunately?), although I mentioned to John not long ago about getting a helmet to have handy should the opportunity to ever ride come available at the farm.
And yeah, I'm one of those that always talks about how we lived "on the edge" when growing up, but there is no way in hell I'd ever consider riding w/out a seatbelt now, or letting someone ride in the bed of a pick-up or on the tailgate. We get older, we get wiser... I'm still working on the wisdom part.

pita-woman said...

I was thinking about Anna on my drive into work this morning... I hope she continues to recover completely. I was also thinking about the great helmet debate.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but in competitive riding, be it Steeplechase, racing, dressage, etc., wearing a helmet is required. Yet when it comes to rodeo events, how often do we see the cowboys/girls wear them? I can't recall a single time. Many of them wear the safety-vests and mouth-gards, but no helmets. You'd think in a sport where they're constantly being thrown off or deliberately jumping off, it would be required.

Junosmom said...

Anna continues to be fine, though we had a scare on Saturday. Her left eye was red and she was vomiting. A CT scan showed that she was fine, and they suspected that she picked up a virus while visiting the ER or doctor's office.

As to helmets, yes, English riders tend to wear helmets and by tradition, Western riders (barrel racing, etc) do not. This is changing though, especially for children and through 4H programs. Many still do not wear helmets - STUPID!

From Stable Management Magazine this month: "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 30 million people ride horses each year in the United States and horseback riding causes the highest proportion of traumatic brain injuries (11.7%) among sports-related recreational activities...." The article goes on to say that most people are injured while mounted (66%) with a severity on a scale of 1 to 10 an 8.5. Most were experienced riders.

Krista Mantsch said...

Soooo glad Anna is okay! Scary stuff.

I can't believe the number of bicyclists in this city who choose to ride without helmets while whizzing down major roads with buses on one side and rush hour traffic on the other. I have many friends who will be forever grateful to be wearing helmets when they were hit with a car door or had to slam on the brakes to avoid a car swerving into their lane and went over the handlebars...


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