Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Pledge

I've always been one of those people that can't be told what to do by mainstream society.

I paint my nails wild colors, I rarely brush my hair, I still wear clothes I had in middle school, I'm loud, I'm peppy, I speak my mind and IDGAF.


Take it or leave it.

In the horse world, I've maintained the same general attitude towards almost anything.

Take an ratchet old, ugly, grey trail horse out of a field and turn him into an eventer? Yep. Ride in the same saddle for 12 years? Yeah I'ma do that. Not start hosing my horses' legs, for 5 min, everytime, because some people think this will cause colic? (it doesn't).Not feed my horses at the exact time everyday? (they haven't died yet) Oh the horror!

I'll take your standard silly practices and stomp all over them!



How dare I!

Perhaps the greatest debate that invokes a lot of emotion and unwarranted sticking of noses in others' business though, would be the great "To Wear A Helmet or Not to Wear a Helmet".

My LEAST favorite thing about horse people is their constant and incessant need to tell others what to do.

I cannot tell you how many times on one picture on FB or a single post on my blog, someone has commented , "Where is your helmet?"

...Probably in my barn, sitting on my shelf because its obviously not on my fucking head ya helmet nazi, thanks for commenting on my decisions and my life.


Sure, this is a law in some states. Yes, it protects your noggin when you fall. Yes, its silly to not wear one. But guess what? I'm a muthafuckin adult and if I don't want to wear a helmet, I don't have to, and I would invite everyone to have more chill, not waste their time typing out those idiotic, judgmental words on the keyboard and mind their own business.

If I choose to not wear a helmet and risk my own life for a majestic fucking picture of my black beauty in a flower field, I would like the freedom to do so please and thank you. This is America.

But you know what guys?

I'm not going to do that anymore.

And all you self-righteous, helmet preaching lecturers can step off your high horse right now. No. You did not "influence me". No you did not "convince" me of anything.

I am not a dumbass for one. I am well aware of the risks of going sans helmet. I've parted ways with horses a good amount of times to know this. I actually, in general, always wear my helmet.

But sometimes you just don't want to. Like on a super safe, dead broke gelding on a hot summers trail ride. Or out in a flower field with the calmest mare alive, with a majestic setting behind you and you want your hair blowing in the breeze.

But then I think about it...is flowing hair and a nice picture really worth it?

What if...just what if something horrible were to happen?

My come to jesus moment was last week.

Not only have I been thinking (like actually thinking) about life and how precious it is, but I read the post from Eventer79 about why she wants everyone to wear helmets. With all the hate, sadness, and loss of life going around recently, I just can't step away from the fact that life is fleeting. Why would I want to risk that precious gift for a photo?

What really sealed the deal for me was when I got a text that my beautiful best friend was in the hospital after falling from a horse she was riding.

It was a total freak accident and nothing could've seen it coming.

They were simply riding around in a field and the horse slipped on the slippery dry grass and they went tumbling. HARD.

I choked back tears reading the text explaining that she had zero memory of the accident and was being scanned for brain injuries.

I was absolutely terrified.

I can't lose this
I'm 500 miles from the the most amazing person in my life, and I can't even be there for her. I couldn't bear it. The thought of possibly losing the one person I loved more than anything else was soul crushing. All from a riding accident.

Thankfully, she was okay. Very banged up with a concussion and some minor muscle strains, but all together, alive and safe.

Her helmet had to be replaced. Totally damaged.

It fucking saved her, guys. I owe it to that helmet.

It can happen. People have died falling from horses at a walk. At a standstill. Horses are unpredictable. Dangerous even (wait, so why do we do this?)

It got me thinking about my horses. Bacardi can be dangerous. This past winter I was frustrated, sure. But I tossed aside his downright dangerous behavior as  a vice. He could've killed me in an instant. But he didn't, so I felt invincible. It wouldn't happen to me. Never. I always wore a helmet with him, but still, the thought applies.



And then there's Lilly. She's the calmest horse I've ever ridden. But she could fall. She could spook. Anything, and I would be dead if I decided to forego my brain bucket.



Even Yankee, the horse I trust more than any other...same thing.



We get lulled into a false sense of security with familiarity. We forget that in a split second our lives could change.

And then I see a video on Facebook of a little girl barrel racing. Shes strapped into her saddle with VELCRO. Galloping this massive horse around the barrels. With no helmet. I couldn't help but thinkg "Where are her parents and why is she not wearing a helmet??" because guess what, shes FOUR. She did not "choose" to not wear a helmet like an adult could. How dare those parents! We are educated! We KNOW riding is dangerous now! How could they choose to let their precious child ride a thousand pound animal, strap her in with velcro, and still NOT think about how a helmet could save her life. Blows my mind. Put a helmet on her, please.

Wait. Did I just become one of those people?


Maybe
I now refuse to risk my life unnecessarily when I have the tools to protect it. I think about my life. I kind of love it. I love the people in it. I love waking up everyday. I love my legs. I like walking. I love sunsets. I love french fries. I love horses. I love water parks. I love hugs. I love weighlifting. I love all of it. Why would I risk that, why?

I also implore you all to take a hard think about your life & the people in it. They would miss the fuck out of you if you were gone. A lot of you have spouses. Children. Maybe even grandchildren.

I'm not telling anyone to do anything. I'm telling myself, enough is enough. Just think about it like I did. Is it worth it?

So I pledge. I pledge to never get on the back of a horse without a helmet, ever again.

And to all of you preachy mofo's out there, you can still fuck off--stop telling people what to do. We're all adults here. If they choose to not wear one. So be it.

I wont though.



9 comments:

  1. Glad to read this post, and to hear your friend will be okay. Protecting the melon is the smart thing to do. Not into preaching, but I do feel twinges of worry when I see pictures of friends (blog and irl) riding without. No one where I live wears helmets, and I get some grief about it.

    That said, in a fit of hypocrisy this past winter I trail rode my best friend's "bombproof" mare out to the beach, alone, several times, sans helmet. I had a glorious time, and yes, I got some great pictures. Which I felt a little weird about posting on the blog. Maybe now I can come clean. ;D

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  2. I had the same thought run through my head when I took Klein to the beach last time. It's so much fun to just gallop down the beach barefoot, bareback, hair blowing in the wind. But, there could be no more beach rides if something were to happen while riding around like that. The beach is full of ridiculousness too, kites, boogie boards, rafts, and a bunch of other silly shit people bring to the beach. So, I put my helmet on. I used to not wear it when we lived in Hawaii and I would take BABY Klein to the beach (even worse, a three year old). Those pictures of us embarrass me. I'm taking Mochs to the beach this week, and my helmet will be on.

    I also saw the video of that little girl bouncing all over the goddamn place barrel racing. I was pretty shocked too. Did you see that her parents actually responded in the comments saying "she knows how to ride, this horse is a saint, blah blah blah." But like you were saying, the horse doesn't have to be malicious for something to happen. Especially when you're turning corners like that, the horse could slip so easy. Actually, Klein slipped once while out galloping and we went down. I hit my head so hard I HEARD my helmet crack! I have never been slammed on the ground like that in my life. I had a headache for a couple days and it took me a second to get up and tell Klein it was ok for her to get up. She stayed down until I told her to get up. I think she was as shocked as I was. I got her up to make sure she was ok, and she was, then hugged on her, rubbed her face, and told her it was ok and that it wasn't her fault.

    Glad your BFF is ok!

    I don't respond to people that post pics riding around with no helmet, because they are adults that can make their own decisions and if they get hurt because they made a bad decision, they have to live with it. But I'm not going to say that the thought of "what a dumbass" doesn't run through my head.

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  3. I don't bother telling people to wear helmets. People come to that decision on their own. I will tell people that I always wear a helmet and I think they should wear a helmet, but I don't tell people they must. Although I do think kids should be forced; they can't make educated decision. I'm glad you're wearing a helmet. I hope your friend gets better. That sounds like a pretty scary accident.

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  4. The helmet preachers do get annoying... having a friend get seriously injured is a huge wake up call though. I'm glad she's going to be okay. Good for you making the pledge to always wear your helmet!

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  5. This is going to prompt me to repost my helmet post too! I am here today because of my helmet!

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  6. So happy to hear your friend is okay! I'm with you on the little girls barrel racing, too.

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  7. I started reading this post not sure of where it was going and I have to say that I am really impressed by the changes you've decided to make. I too, think it's a personal choice (I do feel though, if you have a spouse/children/dependents) that you owe it to them to protect yourself with whatever tools you have available. A four year old riding without a helmet? I thought that was actually illegal in some states (like in PA, I know you can't ride a bike without a helmet until you're 18).

    As trite as it sounds, the worst things seem to happen when we least likely expect it. In 2009, I fainted while riding my bike outside of Philly going down a steep hill. I woke up in the emergency room -- I landed on my face/head and my flipped me over another time. There was NO reason that I fainted (it wasn't even hot that day) and I was fit/healthy. Had I not been wearing my helmet, I would certainly be recovering (or maybe not) form a TBI. People like to use the whole, the horse is a saint excuse a lot, but anything can happen as we all know. I hope your best friend recovers quickly.

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  8. My friend just had a major accident and wasn't wearing a helmet. She is living with consequences from that decision.

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  9. I don't ever comment telling people what to do, but in my mind and heart I am concerned for people who choose not to wear helmets, or vests when doing XC, etc. We need to do it not just for ourselves and family and friends as you say, but for our fur-children too. They need us to work to buy the hay and kibble, and be present to give the cuddles. Glad your friend is on the mend. And I commend your decision to wear one every time.

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