Monday, May 20, 2013

My Helmet Saved My Life

Last night I had a bit of a horse wreck. I’m okay. I’m assuming I’m okay since I’m walking. That must mean there aren’t any broken bones. But it hurt. I hit hard. I hit so hard I peed myself. I landed on my back and slammed my head. Twice. My head actually bounced and I picked up a couple of pounds of dirt in my clothes and my orifices—mouth, nose, ears—while I continued the forward motion and skidded towards home on my back, head first.

Luckily we were already past the timer when Lowdown decided that this was fun and yee-ha, he had a couple of bucks in him. (I got second place.) Unluckily, I wasn’t expecting it and there was no warning or else I think I could have stayed on. But it happened so fast, I didn’t even know what happened. Usually, if a horse starts bucking, I experience a couple of seconds of panic where I’m struggling to maintain my seat and the ground or the sky is flashing by. Sometimes I’m even riding side-saddle for a stride or two. Not real side-saddle but I’m hanging off the side of a saddle by one leg and a prayer, so I call that side-saddle. Then I manage to somehow pull myself back on. The last few times my horse bucked (not always the same horse, just in general—whenever I have been on a bucking horse), I was able to pull myself back on and keep my seat. One time it was pure luck. Harley bucked, I went off, actually went up in the air, and then I fell back down on him in just the right spot, landed smack dab in the middle of my saddle with a big plump! before he took off running. My feet even slipped right back into the stirrups like they’d never been disengaged. That was lucky.

This time I’m lucky I’m not dead. That’s how hard my head hit. I felt it in slow motion—Clunk! Clunk!—and in that split second, my brain, well protected and safe, and therefore still able to do its job, thought Thank god I wear a helmet now!

I never used to wear a helmet. I used to say they were uncomfortable. I used to say it interfered with my vision when I had one on and I couldn’t hear well. Though helmets don’t block your eyes or your ears. I don’t know how I thought anybody would believe that, but that’s what I was shoveling. The real reason is, I was too vain. They look dorky. I’m not going to lie. I still think they are dorky-looking. Even though I wear one now. I look like a big dorky egg-head when I’m wearing my helmet. No more sexy cowgirl galloping across the field of buttercups, long blonde hair flowing in the breeze…. No more cool rodeo chick in fringe shirt, blingy belt, and cowboy hat—black in winter, straw for the summer…. No more of that. The party is over. On top of my figure mysteriously changing shape, thickening around the middle since I’ve gone into menopause like I’m suddenly melting (and maybe I am, if these hot flashes are any indication), I started wearing a dorky helmet. It is not sexy.

I had to do it for the kid. How could I keep making her wear one if I was not? I actually carried on like this for a few years—made her wear one but I didn’t. When she questioned me, I appealed to her sympathy—“I tried but I just could not get used to it! In my day, they didn’t have helmets!”

I urged her to do some critical thinking—“If I jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge too? ”

I used her grandmother—“Nana always said, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’” looked sheepish, and lit up a cigarette. (I don’t smoke anymore either.)

But she never fought me on it. She was never allowed on a horse without a helmet from the time we started leading her around on Minnie when she was three-years-old and so I imagine her helmet is like a headstall to her—a necessary piece of equipment that you don’t think twice about and even if her mother doesn’t wear one, her mother’s stupidity is more of a conundrum than ammunition not to wear her own.

However, my hypocrisy bothered me. Now that she was older and she could look at me with admiration due to my behavior and not simply because I was her mother, or disapproval, I had to behave better. I decided to at least try one. Give it a good try. Not just throw on some extra helmet someone had lying around. Get the right one. Research which ones were comfortable, what would work best for me, and get the proper size. And that’s what I did. (FYI, I got a Tipperary.)

The day I found myself cooling out my horse with my helmet still on because I’d forgotten to take it off because it was so comfortable was the day I knew the bullshit was over and I was a helmet-wearer.

I’m not going to say it looks nice. I am no hot number with my hair blowing in the breeze anymore. But I have a head. And brains can be quite sexy.

Helmets come in many styles. Here is the cowboy hat with helmet built-in (is my head too big?), and my personal favorite, the shark.


Tammy Vasa said...

SO glad you are okay! And that you had your dorky helmet on. At least you still have long hair and not a gray dike hair cut! LOL! That would really be dorky!

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

That must have been very frightening! I'm so glad you were wearing a helmet and hope that you are not having any after effects from your spill. be careful!

CountryDew said...

Thank God you had your helmet on. I hope you are going to be okay. What a story.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Well that's because I'm very shallow Tammy!

(To my readers: we've been having a conversation about how men tend to like long hair on Facebook and someone accused me of being shallow.)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad you're okay and were wearing your helmet. I've always worn one even though I think I look like Kazoo (Flintstone's cartoon character). A helmet has saved my bacon more than once because I've had some really impressive falls. Congratulations on not smoking anymore either!

(I don't do Facebook but I can imagine the comments. I think most men like long hair too. My husband actually likes me better in short hair but I wear it however I feel like wearing it depending on my mood. Short for summer and longer for winter... sometimes)

Chris said...

Very glad you had your helmet on. I rode for many years and it was only after getting a concussion that I wore a helmet consistently. Then I had a crash, landed on my head and was so grateful for the helmet, I might have been a vegetable.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Yikes, since writing my story, my back has not gotten any better. I can't even lift my legs to put my pants on, it hurts so much. Got a doctor's appointment Tuesday. I am NOT happy. I was doing so well getting myself and the horse strong and conditioned and now that I'm not smoking, I think I already gained another five pounds since I can't ride and do all the other stuff I usually do around here!

Jeff said...

I'm happy to read that you've kicked the nicotine addiction and that you wear a helmet all the time. Now, if folks in Floyd County would just wear seat belts!! So many preventable injuries and deaths! I'm praying that the back issue is muscle trauma related and not anything more. Keep us posted!

LadyJennivieve said...

I've had to replace a helmet after I fell off in a sand arena. I remember the crunch as my head hit the sand, and that was enough to convince me that I should replace it. Every helmet I've ever bought always looked too big on my head, even though it fit perfectly, so I think they look dorky too, but I wear one because my mother wouldn't let me ride a horse without a helmet on, and now it feels weird not too. In fact, the only time I did it was when I got back on the horse after hitting my head to ride a circuit of the arena (why wear a damaged helmet?). I even did it bareback, because my saddle had slipped, which is why I fell in the first place. I'm glad you're okay.

Anonymous said...

So glad you are all right. And what a great blog post.
Dianne (from headshakers group, which will likely sound very weird to people who don't know what that is)

Karen C. said...

Thank you for such a great post! I am so glad you are okay and here to write about how dorky helmets look! :-) I started wearing one in 2008 to be a 'good example' for my husbands kids who have not taken an interest in riding. Hmpf...freaks! I will admit, I still can't stand them, they give me a headache (ball caps adjusted loosely give me a headache) and I get pissed whenever I have an itch on my head and can't scratch it. BUT....if I ever happen to fall on my melon, it will be protected and I will have a much better chance to continue doing what I love!

P.S. Our hair might not be blowing in the wind the same way it used to...but we are still hot in a dorky helmet wearing sort of way! :-)

Patti said...

Hope your back's OK - I haven't been able to get a leg over a saddle (because of lower back issues) and it's terribly frustrating. As your helmet should be replaced anyway, look at the newer "low profile" helmets. They have less of that "bowling ball" look.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Dianne, that's funny that I got a comment on my post about almost breaking my head open from one of my headshaking board buddies! Guys, that's a group for folks who own horses who have headshaking syndrome.

Karen, for a minute there, when you said, "I still can't stand them," I thought you meant your hubby's kids! Ha!

Thanks Patti. I will check them out.

Thank you everyone for your comments! An update is coming.

Becky Mushko said...

My helmet saved me a couple of times. Amazing what a loud noise a helmet makes when you hit the ground head first. But I'm guess cracking your head would make a louder noise.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

There was a loud noise! Two big clunks and all I thought was, omg, thank you god that I wear a helmet nowadays!