University of Vermont AAHS

HARMONY: Speaking at the AHSA Convention 2000

The Year of the Helmet?
Jan Dawson
President, AAHS
[reproduced from Caution:Horses, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 2000]


At the invitation of Dave Johnson, Chairman of the Horse Show Standards Committee of the American Horse Show Association, I had the honor of speaking to the Forum of that committee at the National Convention in Las Vegas. I must say I was favorably impressed by the number of people genuinely concerned with the safety of their customers. This concern crossed all disciplines from western to hunt seat. I was speaking on negligence law and how it works and expected an audience of trainers and judges whose main interest was saving their own behinds. I could not have been more wrong. They all seemed concerned with the incidence of accidents in general.

Do Helmets Stay on?

The topic that seemed to appear repeatedly was that of the approved helmet that hits the ground before the rider does. Many seemed to think that this was a design flaw. We have discovered something else, however, from teaching the clinics. The only way to be certain that the helmet strap is snug enough is to put your finger under the strap. That means that the instructor or trainer needs to do that him or herself if they want to be sure that the strap is secure enough. We recommend doing it at the beginning of each lesson, before entering the warm-up area, and again before entering the show ring. I know that all kids are perfect but perfect kids still loosen that strap when the trainer is not looking. It’s a simple thing to do. Even if the trainer is hauling 30 kids, it only takes one second to check that strap so that is only a few minutes of actual checking time even if we add the time it takes to walk between the horses while checking.

Helmets at Guest Ranches

We have been seeing more and more helmet use at dude and guest ranches. The principle that seems to work best is to put helmets on the staff. If the wranglers wear helmets the guests won’t complain about wearing them. Reports are that although it takes a bit of effort to get it started it works quite well.

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