Is putting your hair inside your helmet a safe practice?
For decades, riders across America consider putting their hair inside the helmet an accepted practice. This is especially true for riders who show in the hunters and equitation. George Morris heavily endorses this practice. If the top professionals do it, then it must be safe, right? Not necessarily. A recent Chronicle of the Horse article expressed safety concerns over putting one’s hair inside their helmet. One quote really stuck out because it sounded more like common sense:
“The helmet is made to sit close against the skull. Hair up causes the helmet to act differently and has the potential to cause greater harm than wearing your hair down. Not to mention that often riders have their hair down for schooling and up for showing—all with the same size helmet. “
From the early years starting out, I cannot remember having a helmet that fit me properly. Even before I began tucking my hair inside the helmet, I had a difficult time finding one that fit my head shape. Then add in having thick hair and having to go up a size just so the helmet doesn’t pop off when you stuff all that hair inside your helmet. Today, I normally wear my hair down in a low ponytail for schooling and in the jumpers. If I need to put my hair up for dressage or the hunters/equitation, I will do a single braid tucked in to make a neat bun and secure it outside my helmet with an elastic that matches my hair color.
This is where I have a problem with some of the traditions in this sport because it seems looks are more important than safety. You only have one brain and you need to treat it with care. There are other ways to keep long hair neat and tidy without compromising safety – and I will post another article down the road on safe hairstyles for the show ring. The equestrian sport is constantly evolving, and we need to evolve with it. Whether you choose to put your hair under your helmet or not should be a personal choice. Hunter and Equitation judges need to stop penalizing riders for prioritizing their health and safety over looks.
Here is the COTH link: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/from-the-magazine-rapunzel-rapunzel-let-down-your-hair