From Endurance to Dressage
Most equestrians, especially those who compete in events sanctioned by USEF, know that Saturday was International Helmet Awareness Day.
Not to be a Negative Nancy here, but I sometimes wonder if it's not a case of the minister preaching to the choir - Amen, brother, preach it!
Almost everyone I know already wears a helmet, some of them thanks to me. The people I know who don't wear helmets tend to be western riders. I live in cowboy country (believe it or not), and most of the folks in my area don't wear a helmet. That got me thinking. Maybe the helmet awareness groups need to tweak their campaign a little because it seems as though a large segment of riders aren't embracing the notion that helmets save lives - or at least prevent brain damage.
As I was walking through the office hallway the other day, I am a teacher, I noticed two new posters hanging side by side. They were big ones, like two feet by three feet at least. There was a big brain in the center of each with text filled thought bubbles scattered around the outside. The title for each poster was the same: Every Concussion Deserves a Discussion.
At school, we deal with a lot of kids who don't always make good decisions. They flip over stuff, jump off stuff, and try their best to prove they are indestructible no matter how often that we remind them they are not. The posters are to remind the staff that a bump on the head can be more serious than just a goose egg.
Maybe shouting from the rooftops that we should all wear helmets to protect ourselves from death and serious injury isn't the most effective campaign.
I am a pretty big NASCAR fan. We watch the race every weekend. My husband roots for Bakersfield native, Kevin Harvick, while I root for the #48, Jimmie Johnson. Along with most NASCAR fans, I am also a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan. For those who don't follow the sport, Earnhardt took a few good hits over the course of a couple of weeks earlier in the season.
If you don't follow NASCAR, you probably don't know about the MANY safety features built into those cars. Much of those came as a result of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death while racing at Daytona in 2001. Drivers wear helmets and are locked into position with a HANS device - among many other safety features. Even with all of his safety gear, Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion that is severe enough that he voluntarily pulled himself from racing for the remainder of the season.
Dale started experiencing dizziness and other symptoms while driving and decided to see his doctor knowing that he was in all likelihood eliminating himself from championship contention. Not racing is a good way to lose your sponsors and even your spot on the team. Even NASCAR's most popular driver is at risk of losing his ride.
Dale has been very public about his condition which I think makes him an even better role model than before. If someone as blue collar and testosterone driven as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is willing to talk about the dangers and lasting effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the helmet awareness people need to get HIM as a spokesman. That might get the attention of our non-helmet wearing friends.
Dale Jr. is the perfect guy to lead the drive toward embracing the concept that every concussion deserves a discussion. Maybe that would encourage more riders to wear helmets.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: