Tuesday 18 December 2012

FEI launches global safety helmet campaign

Taking a break from my usual posting I just had to applaud this move by the FEI.

Taken from World of Show Jumping News LINK

'The FEI has launched a global campaign to promote the use of protective headgear. The move comes two weeks before implementation of a new rule making the use of a properly fastened protective headgear mandatory while riding on the show grounds at FEI events. The campaign, which will be conducted mainly online, begins today, a fortnight before the new rule comes into effect on 1 January 2013.

An important part of the campaign will be a series of emails with strong visuals reminding athletes of the importance of safety, and particularly of helmet use. These reminders will be sent to the National Federations, athletes and officials clubs, and various FEI stakeholders on a regular basis throughout 2013. A special page outlining the protective headgear requirements specific to each of the seven FEI disciplines on the field of play and outside the competition arena has been created on the FEI website and can be accessed here. Widgets for simple access to all the relevant information can be downloaded from this page.

“The helmet rule, which was unanimously adopted by the FEI General Assembly in 2011, is a significant step forward towards the better protection of our athletes,” said FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos. “Beginning 1 January 2013, protective headgear will be compulsory at all FEI events and we strongly encourage everyone involved in international equestrian sport to familiarise themselves with the new general and sport-specific rules. The welfare of all our athletes, human and equine, must be protected.”

Helmet use has been at the forefront of several campaigns in recent years. US Dressage rider Courtney King-Dye, recent winner of the FEI Against All Odds Award, advocates educating equestrians on the benefits of wearing helmets through the Riders4Helmets campaign (www.riders4helmets.com). In 2010, King-Dye, who had represented the United States at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals 2007 and 2008, suffered a traumatic brain injury. A horse she was schooling tripped and fell and, with no helmet to protect her, she fractured her skull in the fall. After four weeks in a coma, she spent three months in hospital re-learning how to walk and talk. The after-effects of the accident still severely affect her coordination and speech. She is now aiming to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (BRA).

“I think my accident was necessary in the fight for safety because an Olympian who sustains a brain injury while riding proves that injury has nothing to do with level of skill,” Courtney King-Dye commented. “For 15 years, I was a person who only rode the young or ‘dangerous’ horses with a helmet, but my horse did nothing naughty, he just tripped over his own feet.

“And while you can’t control what people do at home, the new rules can control what people do at shows and this will go a long way to create good habits,” she added.

The Yellow Warning Card system already in place will be used for those athletes who do not comply with the new rule. A Yellow Warning Card will be given if an athlete is reminded that he or she needs to wear protective headgear and the athlete fails or refuses to comply after such reminder.

Great news IMO, hopefully this will have a knock on effect to those riding at home. It is scary the amount of people at my yard of over 100 horses who ride without helmets!
I can probably count on one hand the amount of people who always ride in a helmet - and that includes myself!

Starting at the top and enforcing such a rule at the elite level of the sport will hopefully have a trickle down effect and encourage people in the lower levels and amateur ranks to sit up and take notice.
It makes me really uncomfortable to see people ride without helmets, especially in the warm up rings at shows etc where easily influenced newcomers to the sport and/or children watch those at the top of the sport riding without helmets and may follow their examples.

I cannot hold my hand up and pretend I have never sat on a horse without a helmet, I have been known to hop up bareback and in a headcollar - which brings about a whole other can of worms and safety hazards...but I haven't done that in quite a while. Nor have I felt altogether comfortable when I did.
As a matter of fact I would be very surprised at myself if I find myself on horseback without a helmet on anymore as it just feels wrong to me...like sitting in a car without a seatbelt!


  1. I'm glad to see FEI hop on the bandwagon!

    1. It's about time really, how this wasn't part of the foundations of an international governing body i don't know!

  2. Finally FEI! I have definitely ridden, galloped, jumped all without a helmet - but that's a stupid decision. I won't ride without one now, and feel that's the best choice for me.

    1. Thanks for commenting Lauren, I agree with you 100%. I wouldn't feel right on a horse without a helmet - for me it's a no brainer nowdays.

  3. Shame that they are being a bit hypocritical with regards dressage by using Courtney "my horse tripped and I ended up with a fractured skull" King-Dye as a spokesperson and then have this as their stance on dressage:
    "Protective headgear is mandatory. Exception: Athletes 18 years and older, riding Horses seven (7) years and older may wear a top hat/bowler instead of Protective Headgear at the actual Competition and the warming-up directly prior to the Competition (with no break before the Competition), which includes riding between the stable and the warm-up area, riding of the competing Horse in the warm-up area, and riding back to the stable. A Protective Headgear formed as a top hat may be used in the same situations as a standard top hat. (art. 427.1)"
    Oh yes, cause people over 18 have inbuilt brain protection, and horses over 7 never ever ever trip! Meh. Suppose it's a step in the right direction and fingers crossed it will extend further despite how lovely top hats look...

    1. Haven't they now developed top hats that have helmet protection built in?

  4. Our provincial governing body instituted a minors at NBEA governed events helmet mandatory rule when I was about 15. I started dutifully wearing a helmet then and now as a senior rider, I can count the number of times since then that I have been on horseback without a helmet on two fingers. Once was a photoshoot, the next was at a trail riding string where all the 4H kids had helmets (I had no idea I would be riding) but there were not enough for me to wear one and they needed an extra guide. I can say with certainty that it translated to my daily habits after being implemented at a club/association level.


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