Should helmets be compulsory for trot ups / handling horses ?

Should helmets be compulsory for trot ups / handling horses ?

We’ve all heard crazy examples of when health and safety has gone too far, first aid boxes not being re-stocked with plasters in case someone has a mild allergic reaction, or the case of the 5 year old child that got stuck up a tree at school and staff could only observe from a safe distance whilst they waited for help to arrive! In a world where there are lots of measures put in place to keep us all ‘safe’ it raises the question why in some sports is it not compulsory to protect your head from serious injury? In boxing at the highest levels, fighters don’t have to wear head guards and, similarly, when handling a potentially deadly half ton animal that no helmet is required.

The footage from the Olympic horse inspections showed some very fresh horses rearing up and striking out just inches from their handlers uncovered heads. I’ll be honest, I don’t put a hat on to lead my horses to the field or handle them around the yard, but I cant help thinking that it should be a rule to use head protection in such high-risk sports. These athletes are watched by many and should perhaps be required to set an example. Given the risks, it’s surprising, actually, that the companies providing insurance for these events don’t insist on it.

Perhaps, actually, we should all take this a little more seriously ?

In fact, wearing a hard hat to ride a top level dressage test was only brought into play in 2013 and yet it’s still not compulsory for trot ups, where adrenalin is often pumping in our four-legged friends and the atmosphere of the moment can often see them rising to the situation and growing the odd inch or two.

However good a rider/handler is, accidents do happen and they can have devastating consequences. After her trot up at Tokyo Charlotte Dujardin was quoted saying ‘You have one life – why not put a hat on?’ She certainly makes a good point that will get people talking.

So what do people think? Is a change to the rules required or should it be up the individual to decide if a hat needed?

Photo with kind permission from Adam Fanthorpe.