It’s funny how things change. This was my first pony, Midnight. My parents called him “Nightmare” but that’s a whole other story! I am sitting on my Midnight in this picture. I was about three and a half years old. Judging from my brother who is five years older than me, and my aunt who is ten years older than me, I have pinpointed my age at three and a half. As ridiculous as I was dressed, at least I had my heels down!
It’s funny how things change. I am sure us kids put that poor excuse of a bridle on Midnight. It looks like we used clothesline. My Dad probably wasn’t home, and my Mother never liked to ride so we were on our own. There we were, all in shorts, sitting on a towel, instead of just being bareback! Not a helmet in sight.
When I tell people today of how at a young age I would ride my ponies and horses for miles, bareback, in sneakers,flip flops, or moccasins, no helmet, and not an adult in sight I sometimes think I sound like my Dad who “Walked ten miles to school in fifteen feet of snow, all uphill both ways, and barefoot.”
But I did, and things were so different then. Can you imagine riding your bike with a helmet as a child? I never had a helmet for anything. My horse, my snowmobile, and forget about me wearing a helmet on my bike! I would never use a saddle when I rode my horse, I just thought I was an “Indian” and I didn’t need shoes either. Today we wouldn’t even use the term “Indian” instead we use “Native American”. It’s amazing how much things change!
The only time I would use boots and a saddle was for my weekly riding lesson. My instructor would bring me an English saddle and my Mother would force me to put on my “uncomfortable” riding boots. My instructor insisted on the boots, but she never mentioned a helmet.
I did have one head injury as a child, trick riding my pony Daisy. Daisy was a gelding, but I loved Daisy Duke so too bad for him. Besides, he was pure white and the prettiest pony I ever did see.
I fell off of my pony when I was trying to stand up while loping bareback. I was maybe ten years old, and not an adult in sight. I got a concussion and lost about three hours of my life. I went to a picnic with my family, which to this day I have no recollection of. My parents finally realized I had a head injury when I kept asking, the same question over and over again. I remember waking up in the back seat of the car, (none of us ever wore seat belts of course) and saying, “Where are we going?” My Mother said in an irritated voice, “To the hospital, stop asking that question!” Then I said “Why?” My Mother then said to my Dad, “I think she is snapping out of it.” Then they went on to explain I must have hit my head and I was going to get checked out at the hospital. I spent a few days in the hospital for observation. I thought it was cool because my Grandparents lived right across the street, and I could see their house from my room.
I got out of the hospital and was back riding a week later. I never had any fear from the accident because I don’t remember it. The last thing I remember was standing up on Daisy’s Back.
Can you imagine something like that happening today? Safety is such a concern with horses and I am so glad times are changing. I think all riders under the age of 18 should wear a helmet regardless of their discipline.
The local 4H club now requires even the Western riders to wear a helmet. The kids complain, but too bad. Adults can make their own decisions but children need to protect their heads.
I wanted to make a mention of the Troxel Western Hat Helmet on the blog, they are not due out until Mid-March. There have been other Western Hat Helmets in production, but the demand was not there for them and they were discontinued. If you know of any kids who are showing Western in 4H or any horse shows for that matter, let them know about the Western Hat Helmet. Maybe if there is a demand for them, they will stay in production and other manufacturers will follow suit.
I don’t like to see a cute little cowboy or cowgirl outfitted in chaps not wearing a proper cowboy hat. I also wouldn’t want to see a cute little hunter jumper wearing breeches and boots with a cowboy hat. I definitely would not want to see any child with a head injury.
Anyway, stay safe everyone!