So here's another instance in which I stake out some unpopular territory for myself and risk pissing people off. It's all good though--you don't get to be a gender-fluid queerdo in the South without being okay with making waves.
First, my stance on safety equipment: Wear what you want to wear, when you want to wear it. Mostly.
Like most of you, I alwayssssssssss wear a helmet. If someone comes over to my house and gets on one of my horses, they absolutely must wear a helmet. We got my nephew his own helmet and I would prefer that he wear it all the time in the barn and not just when he's mounted. I did graduate from Pony Club, after all. I do safety checks on all my equipment constantly. I don't wear my XC vest in the ring to jump unless I have a real reason to. I don't own an air vest. I wear my vest when I'm starting a young horse or jumping XC. I'm not really a reckless person. My standards for my own equipment are like most peoples' I know.
|Lex was 5 days under saddle. In a 40-acre field. Vest.|
But if I was in a lesson with a pro--not M, who always wears a helmet, but some hypothetical other pro--who wanted to get on my horse and s/he wasn't wearing a helmet, would I say no? I mean, maybe, if I wasn't sure she would ride my horse in a way I was okay with, but I wouldn't say no because of the helmet thing. A professional riding at home can make that decision. I watched a BNT who has had some recent Grand Prix success school a couple weeks ago, and he was jumping the tops of the standards with no helmet and a cigarette in his mouth and his iPod. Would EYE ride like that? Hell no. Am I going to march into the ring with a helmet and insist he put it on? Of course not. That would be out of line.
|I walked around bareback on this horse today and wore a helmet.|
"But you're not married to him, Jess, so why should it matter to you what he wears? It's different if you're married."
Is it? I don't know. His body is still his and mine is still mine, regardless of our relationship or lack thereof. I know women who won't get the haircut they want because their husbands won't like it. That bums me out a lot. It's not his hair!
So if someone told me to wear safety equipment, I don't think I'd have a super great reaction to that. I mean, USEA and USEF have rules about helmets and vests and I'm happy to follow the rules. If I ever got to the level of top hats in dressage or eventing, I'd still wear a helmet. Some people wear vests all the time when they ride because it makes them feel safe or they have an old injury or a disease process that means a fall would be worse for them than it would be for me. And they should do that! Whatever works for them.
|PUT A HELMET ON|
Here's what it comes down to for me: I'm an incredibly independent person, perhaps to a fault. I'm kind of anti-romantic, too, in that anything that normal people consider romantic is probably going to make me break out in hives. Love, Actually makes me want to throw up, actually. And part of the reason I have so much trouble with normal-people romance is that it often seems to have something to do with control. "I'm telling you that you can't do this dangerous/far-away/whatever thing because I love you." "Wow, you must really love me if you're willing to tell me what to do!" For me, that doesn't work. I know. I'm suuuuuuuch a catch. Get in line, laydeez, for someone who will never stand outside your window with a boombox or whatever totally-right-now reference.
Thus, anyone who said "you have to wear a helmet and a vest" would be met with a great deal of eye-rolling from me at the very minimum. Have to? Excuse me? I'm a grown-ass adult. And that isn't going to make me feel loved. It's going to make me feel like a porcupine.
I think it's totally within bounds to say, "I know that you're bringing along a young and athletic and talented horse, and that at the moment you're participating in a sport known for being even more dangerous on top of that. I also know that all of this is very important to you, but I want to register that it makes me nervous sometimes because I want you to be safe and healthy." I would listen to that, and I'd be open to having a discussion with that person about what safety measures I take and why. That's an honest conversation. But I wouldn't want to have that conversation all the time, or to feel like I was being pressured into changing my behavior or out of entering things I wanted to do or whatever, because: it's my body. It's my life. Anyone in a long-term relationship with me would know all of this about me going in, because it's a huge part of who I am, this need to be my own person.
Everyone's circumstances are different, and I can see why Sarah's husband is worried after her crash. I'm not here to tell you what your response to such a conversation should be. Mine may be against the grain, but I feel very strongly about it. Besides, all Mo and I are doing is trotting circles and trying to dodge enormous flies, and everyone gets sick of reading about that, right?