Courtney King Dye Lends Her Voice to the riders4helmets Helmet Safety Symposium

Friday, January 28, 2011

I was so bummed I couldn't be at the riders4helmets Helmet Safety Symposium, I had so much to say! On the day of the Symposium, January 8, early Saturday morning I had a siezure and was brought to the hospital. When I was being released I looked at the clock, and it was only 7 am. The Symposium started at 9, so I said to my friend who was taking me home, "we can still make it to the helmet symposium!" then I went home and proceeded to vomit and was taken back to the hospital. So I missed it. I was just going to tell about my experience and go with the flow, so there's no way I can recreate that, but I'll express my opinions, a couple of which I've said before. The bottom line is no matter how 'good' you are, you can't train a horse to not trip over his own feet. That was my specific instance, but it's an example of how we, and the horse, can't account for all the possibilities. The unexpected has to be expected.

Tradition is a pathetic excuse because now we breed our horses to be more athletic and sensitive than before, and we've manufactured safer helmets. So it makes sense for us to match the hotter horses with the available improved head gear. Like in everything, tradition changes with time. If everyone wears a helmet, soon it will look normal. Hat hair is also no excuse. Trust me, the brain is far more important than hair. The only somewhat relevant excuse is that wearing a helmet for 8 hours in the beating sun is so uncomfortable it almost distracts from the riding. That's why the helmet companies are trying to make lighter airier helmets.

I still stick to the arguement,though, that the brain is far too important to risk.

My opinion used to be that everyone had to make their own choice. Wearing a helmet was the right one, but they had to consider not only themselves but their loved ones, and if they decided going without was worth the risk, we shouldn't stop them.

I thought it was just my accident, it won't affect anybody other than my loved ones. Then my mind changed dramatically from being at WEG. The amount of people who recognized me and the sheer number and idolization of the Team made it clear that we're role models. That means we're responsible for a whole lot more than just us and our loved ones. We show everyone what's right, which means no matter how uncomfortable it is or how ugly it looks, we should wear a helmet. Not only the Olympic or WEG Team riders, but all FEI riders are role models.

I know it's unfortunate that it took a top rider being hurt to ignite the discussion of safety, but in my view it makes my accident worth while. If it can save one life, it's worth it, and many people have emailed me saying they had bad accidents and were only wearing a helmet because of mine.

I loved Lauren Sammis's quote from Nancy Jaffer's article that if we don't wear helmets, my accident was nothing but a tragedy.

I hope it's more than a tragedy.