People sometimes ask me why Italian riders never wear a helmet. This is a question I’ve also asked myself.
This has been a big issue for me for many years. After I got to know the world of Western riding, I’ve been pulled between two worlds: the Cowboy hat or the Riding helmet?
Why do I see that as two different worlds? Well, there is a hidden rule in this game. If you do English style riding, then it’s obvious to wear a riding helmet, even in Italy. I think Queen Elizabeth is the only one that rather wears a scarf in her head!
If you practice Western riding it’s almost obvious that you wear a cowboy hat. As long as you are over the age of 18. In the Italian riding competitions (western) the cowboy hat is a part of the outfit. But you are allowed to wear a helmet if you absolutely want to be a geek!
It seems to me that adults are not in the danger zone of hitting their head while doing barrel racing or catching cows! While a show jumper or a dressage rider might even hit the head even after the age of 18!
A Norwegian habit
In Norway most people practice the English style, and I was raised to always wear a riding helmet or even a bike helmet. Therefore many Norwegian people keep asking me why the Italians don’t wear a riding helmet. Are they not likely to hit the head if they fall off the horse?
But if you look at the real Western world in America, you’ll see the same trend. Have you ever seen a real cowboy wear a riding helmet??? Also in Australia I met the same issue. People even rented out horses without offering you a riding helmet.
After spending a lot of time in the Western world I’ve slowly stopped wearing the helmet. One reason is the sunshine. If you ride for hours under the sun, the cowboy hat protects you a lot better. The second reason is the way it makes you feel. You feel a lot more like a good looking cowgirl..
But then the old habit comes back, over and over again. It makes me look into the closet and choose the helmet (I’ve actually got three!) instead of the hat! This normally happens when I go riding on my own. So every time before riding I need to fight with myself over this issue.
A new rule
Lately I got so fed up with my lousy personality that I made a rule: Wear nothing in the riding ground and the helmet while doing trekking.
After seeing my friend fall off and actually break two ribbons I became more nervous. It reminded me about how fast a young horse might act caused by any type of fear.
In the riding ground there are much less scary elements and no traffic. Therefore I leave it as a problem free zone, which means to put nothing on the head at all. It’s probably stupid, but in this way I feel quiet.
But any rule has to be broken… This afternoon I went for a ride in the fields without any helmet on! Is there hope for confused people like me? Well, it exists a special made hat with an inbuilt helmet! That might be the next step…
Please comment and share your thoughts!