Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't always ridden in a helmet. I survived my adolescence sans helmet (so dorky) only by the grace of my irreplaceable horse. Then I went through my teenage rebellion at 19 (so, I was a late bloomer on the teenage rebellion front) when a helmet was no longer mandatory... Still survived based on the good nature of my horses.
I didn't start seriously wearing a helmet again until I started riding my young horses - three year old RC at the time-With the amount of time that that horse spent in the dirt, it would have been straight up dumb to not wear a helmet. I upgraded my troxel for a Charles Owen only because I forgot my 'show helmet' at home in Missouri when I headed up to Lamplight. Whoops....
I will say that I now ride religiously in a helmet. More often than not, I put my helmet on when I get on my first horse then don't take it off until I'm leaving the barn for the day.
Do I look dorky? I don't think so, but to each their own.
Is it uncomfortable? Definitely not. Otherwise I wouldn't wear my helmet for 5 hours straight.
Is it because I'm scared of my horses or a wimpy rider? Nope, not that either (though the dressage might make the uninformed think so).
I wear a helmet because I respect my brain and I don't want to have to use that $170 a month that I spend on health insurance on medical bills because I cracked my head while riding without a helmet. I like being an intelligent, independent, successful woman and all it would take to ruin that is one slip of the hoof or bad landing after a fall. It is so not worth the lack of helmet hair to hurt myself and those who care about me by not doing what I can to keep myself safe while riding a 1000 pound animal with a tiny little mind of it's own.
To be perfectly honest, helmet hair is the least unattractive part of me after 5 hours at the barn.
I am even more helmet conscious now than I was at home with just my young horses. Now that I ride at a barn with many younger riders - some of whom actually look up to me- I see it as my responsibility to be a good role model for these young equestrians. Like it or not, but the next generation of riders has to look up to someone, and it is that person's moral responsibility to try to hold themselves to the highest standards that they can.
Comfort and cost are the reasons most likely given for the lack of helmet (probably because hubris and vanity just sound bad)... But with so many brands, shapes and types of helmets available, that excuse is just flimsy. There are cheap helmets out there (under $40), helmets for oval heads, round heads, narrow heads, whathaveyou. And I have never overheated due to a helmet when riding in south Texas, so that comfort excuse is right out, especially here in the UP... in March.
And finally: A helmet is NOT going to cost you the class. The best horse wins. And in my case, the best horse is sometimes ridden in a helmet. Which means to say, my horse is the best. And I wear a helmet. Even western.
I'd be stylin' in a brown CO helmet on Tilly. Just imagine my little dressage pony trotting down the centerline with a brown saddle, my brown dehners and brown helmet.
Who wants to start the "Buy Alison a spare schooling helmet fund"?