As I have predicted for a long time, we are slowly headed towards the requirement of safety helmets across all equestrian sports all the time. So we're still pretty far away from that, but new regulations have been passed to require all riders showing at national-level dressage competitions in this country to wear a safety helmet, starting March 1. This is kind of huge, guys. I certainly thought it would take longer to get this type of ruling passed, and honestly the only reason I think it went through now is because Courtney King-Dye's accident is still pretty fresh in everyone's memory.
Essentially the terms of the regulation require that all riders will have to wear a helmet while mounted on any horse that is showing in any national-level classes (USEF/USDF classses). Even in the warm-up arena. Even a trainer who just pops on your horse for a moment to do a quick tune-up. It will be mandatory. And all riders 18 and under are required to always wear a helmet, even at the FEI level. Which is not the case for senior riders (I mean over 18 riders) in the FEI division -- these riders can actually still opt out and simply wear the top hat. So, it's clearly not perfect, but baby steps, people, baby steps.
I, for one, am thrilled. The more regulated helmet usage is, the more normal it will seem to people and the more people will think nothing of wearing them all the time. I honestly believe that in the next five years we're going to see more and more movement towards a policy that will require all riders to wear safety helmets all the time, including international events, and including western divisions. And let me tell ya -- that's gonna be a toughie. No one has ever said a word to me about wearing a helmet in reining and I've never perceived any strange looks, but I do feel like the lone weirdo out there doing my thing. I cringe when riding with the junior riders, their heads uncovered. I just can't see how a look or a lifestyle should supercede my health and safety. And here's how I look at it for me -- if just one person at the reining show looks at me and decides that wearing a helmet isn't as embarassing as they originally thought, then I've done my job. Normalization is the first step in acceptance.