Don’t bow to peer pressure over safety

“The huntsman took the p*ss out of me because I was wearing a crash helmet out hunting,” said a friend of a friend who had called to ask me about body protectors. She had just had a bad fall out hunting, hurt her back, and was unable to work for two weeks as a result.

She wanted to know how I get on with the Point Two air jacket I sometimes use as she was looking for something she could discreetly hide under her jacket so people didn’t think her a wuss.

I was astounded. Contrary to what you might think, this girl is in her mid-thirties not mid teens. Quite why you should care that someone should pokes fun at you for wearing a proper hat — or protecting your back because you need to be able to work — is beyond me. So is the fact that a huntsman will tease someone for trying to protect their head.

What is wrong with the horse world? Four years ago I dealt with the aftermath of a rider falling on the road. He was wearing a hat, but he still died after an horrific brain bleed. We held him still on the road while we waiting for the air ambulance, watching blood pour profusely from his ear and it’s an image I struggle to rid from my mind. Sorry to be graphic, but had he not been wearing a hat that day would never leave me — the mess would have been unbearable.

Last summer, I suffered four months of concussion myself after falling from a friend’s shoulders at a party. A stupid thing to do and I lost those months from my life, unable to work, exercise, even read a book. Life is precious.

We should be free to choose to wear a hat to protect our head while doing sport without some idiot poking fun. I wear a helmet when I ski, when I ride horses and when I ride my bike. I sometimes ride racehorses, and as per BHA rules, I wear a Racesafe body protector on the gallops. I don’t choose to wear a body protector when I’m hacking because there’s only so much you can do to protect yourself, but I would if I was still competing.

Please, don’t anyone bow to peer pressure on safety equipment — it’s just not worth it. If just for the people who have to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong.


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