Helmet or No Helmet?
by Pat Parelli on Dec 07, 2022
By Pat Parelli
“To be, or not to be?”, that is the question. But the other question is whether to wear a helmet or not to wear a helmet.
The thing that has served me the best in the last seven decades has been, never say never, don't always say always, usually say usually. And usually, this answer must be it is at parental discretion. Now, if you are your own parent, then it's your discretion.
I'd like to remind everybody that safety comes from a thing called savvy, knowing when to be, where to be, why to be, what to do when you get there, and when to quit doing what you're doing.
When I was ten years old, all the adults told me things like never walk behind a horse, always mount from the left side, and lots of rules and regulations. No one said, "horses have great peripheral vision, so be careful when approaching a horse quickly from the back." Learning how horses feel, think, act, and play, and understanding how to manage our energy through time and space. I'm not for or against helmets, but I am for filling our brains.
I know somebody who has been in two car accidents; in the one car accident, if he'd had a seat belt on, he'd have been killed, the other accident, if he hadn't had the seatbelt on, he would have been killed.
Safety depends on a lot of things, mainly our decisions.
Every horse has his Horsenality based on innate characteristics, environmental influences, learned behavior, and spirit. Most horses do not have enough learned behavior to truly act like partners. The environment has to do with the past and the present.
People often get injured or hurt with horses because of bad decisions. So, the acronym we never want to use is SAD, which stands for Situation Awareness Deficit. Whether you wear a helmet or not, staying aware of your situation, environment, and your horse’s innate characteristics will allow you to make safer decisions.
I help people learn horse sense, and today there are more humans that have more dollars than they have horse sense, pun intended. So, the real answer for me is to make good decisions instinctually.
One of the best things I ever heard anybody say was, when should you get off a horse? The answer the moment it crosses your mind. When should you not get on a horse? The moment it crosses your mind. Let your instincts override your pride or your intelligence.