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Should Equestrian Vaulters Be Required To Wear Helmets?
 By Oak Valley   •   23rd Jan 2012   •   7,261 views   •   12 comments
Equestrian VaultingMany people ask, what is equestrian vaulting? It's a combination of dance-like movement and gymnastics on the back of a cantering horse. The horse is controlled by a lunger who sends the horse out in a circle on a lunge line, which is attached to the bridle. The horse wears a special piece of tack called a surcingle. It sits right where the front of a saddle would normally be. The surcingle has hand grips and stirrup-like loops called cossack loops for the vaulter's feet or legs to go in.

Vaulters begin working in walk and progress to be able to execute fantastic freestyle performances in the canter. A vaulter has to learn to have the agility and athleticism of a gymnast and the expression of dancers and of course, the balance and feel of equestrians.

Helmets
One of the main questions in vaulting is why don't we wear helmets? The answer is that all of the experts, world wide, confer that not only do helmets not improve safety; they can actually increase the risk of injury.

The reason helmets are not considered to improve safety is because there is nothing hard for the vaulter to hit their head on. In vaulting the horse is kept on a circle, which causes falls to travel away from the horse and keeps the vaulter away from walls or other hard objects. Vaulting requires soft footing, which easily provides more protection than a helmet could. Proper vaulting lessons teach the key safety skills first. There are proper ways to approach a vaulting horse, dismounting, and safe ways to "bail out" if balance is lost.

Another reason helmets are considered to be a hazard to safety is that they aren't designed for the sport, and nor could one be developed. Helmets on the market now are too thick to safely let a vaulter to do a proper forwards or backwards bail out roll in soft footing. The helmet in this case can get "jammed" and cause severe neck injury. Making helmets less thick would defeat the purpose of wearing one, since a helmet works by slowing down the head over a larger distance than if direct contact was made with a hard object. The soft footing required in vaulting offers as much protection as a helmet would. Helmets have straps that could get caught up in the surcingle, or even on other vaulters. Helmets are not designed for the straps to break easily, needless to say, the result of a helmet getting caught during a fall would be disastrous.

The final thing to consider, is that much of the sport is simply not possible while wearing a helmet. Many of the skills require the head to be close to the horses' side for balance, or to be rolled over in many ways. At the higher levels, any dynamic exercise that requires a flip, spin, and/or flight will be throne off balance by the extra weight of the helmet. Even though the weight of the helmet is very slight, it affects the perceptual sense during a flip or spin. There is also a decreased scope of vision while wearing a helmet. A vaulter often relies on their vision when judging distance and location of landing dismounts.
Horse News More PB Articles About:  vaulting,
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FreeRein  
I care what no one says. Helmets are completely dangerous when vaulting. Glad you mentioned this. ^^
  Jan 23, 2012  •  6,073 views
 
Double Spur Ranch  
Well if riders wanted to I think they should have a choice. Bad things could happen you never know.
  Jan 23, 2012  •  6,099 views
 
Madeirey  
Yay for the article! I asked why there were no helmets too a long ime ago so I already knew a lot of this but thanks for telling me new reasons and tell everyone else so they won't nag you all the time about it! It's awesome that you vault :)
  Jan 23, 2012  •  6,068 views
 
MySweetButterfly  
Oh, Now I understand why they don't wear helmets.
  Jan 24, 2012  •  6,073 views
 
Spyricale  
Your word should have been "thrown off balance" instead of "throne".

Anyways, I agree. In vaulting I don't think helmets should be required. They are allowed to make the decision to wear one or not. (Only in vaulting. I think in every other equestrian sport and activity, one should be worn no matter what.)
  Jan 24, 2012  •  6,075 views
 
Emmurr  
I never actually knew all this, this was a very insightful article. Thank you for posting.
  Jan 24, 2012  •  6,084 views
 
Valkyrie   MOD 
Do as you will, I know vaulters are skilled at what they do and trained in safety, but there is always a chance that falling from a great height at speed will injure you.

But hey, your head. It could be you that is the one in a million chance who ends up brain damaged or paralysed. Personally I'd at least find one of those light, breathable endurance helmets or something to wear.
  Jan 25, 2012  •  6,126 views
 
Diddy  
Hmm, interesting. I don`t vault, but I usually always wear a helmet. :3
  Feb 3, 2012  •  6,101 views
 
MoonBeam  
My mother used to vault, and it always puzzled me about why I had to wear a helmet and she didn't until I was old enough to understand. A lot of my dads family critizised the photo's of her vaulting because she wasn't wearing a helmet, so I will be making sure that they read this article! Thank you very much for posting this.
  Feb 12, 2012  •  6,098 views
 
OklahomaBlessing  
I don't think you should ever be required to whear a helment
  Jul 24, 2012  •  6,079 views
 
Foxchase Farm  
Great article!
  48 days ago  •  6,136 views
 
Sanchara  
its great that you posted the article but next time please reference the matirial you've used. Ie: saying something like "The following text is from the VaultCanada website) Also please ask permission before using an image of someone's horse for something like this in the future. (I'm tottaly okay with Sparkle's picture being used for this article tho because it is something I agree with/support - just ask next time) :)
  35 days ago  •  6,104 views
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