by kpmautner

22 June is International Helmet Awareness Day. Every day should be international helmet awareness day, whether you are riding a horse, a bicycle or a motorcycle. Every ride, every time.

The worst accident I’ve ever had to pick up after happened to my best friend during our wonderful pony trek through the Connemara country of Ireland. She was riding a proven field hunter (he hunted winters with the Galway Blazers, and if anyone ever tells you that foxhunting in Ireland is a sport for the insane, believe them) and we were 500 yards from the end of a 25-mile point-to-point ride.

This lovely, sure-footed and clever horse slipped on the road – at a loose-rein walk – and went down. He scrambled back up, unhurt. Not so my friend. Her head had whiplashed onto the road in the course of the fall, and she didn’t move. She was, fortunately, wearing a state-of-the-art, high-tech helmet which I’d talked her into buying earlier that week. She was unconscious for almost two days. The doctor at the emergency room, after examining her brand-new helmet which had bloodstains on the INSIDE and was split down the side, said that she was very, very lucky that she’d been wearing the helmet. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have needed the ambulance – only a shovel.

That fall was almost 25 years ago and she still has lingering, vestigial problems that derive directly from that injury. Take my advice: every ride, every horse/bike/motorcycle; every time.