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Helmets Required???

Across the country there are different rules, regulations, and thoughts for academy riders wearing helmets. In most places it is a matter of personal preference, while others areas have led the way with regulations to keep our beginning riders safe.

With many young riders at Carousel competing in 10 and under and eight and under academy classes, it was quite surprising to see several of them without helmets. Fortunately things went relatively smoothly but it could easily have been disastrous.

The outdoor ring used was enormous and even at a full sprint, anyone trying to get to a horse and rider at the opposite end would have had quite a long trip. In addition, horses entered and left the ring through the same gate, which meant that riders were waiting to go in as horses were coming out which was at times confusing.

Carousel Horse Show was the first time this season that some horse and rider teams competed. Coupled with the fact that many teams were new, an outdoor ring can sometimes make even the best and most broke horse feel “their oats.” The instructors who put academy riders in the ring did a great job of keeping children and horses safe, however.

Should it be mandatory that helmets be worn in the academy division across the country? It is an issue that has supporters on both sides, and in some parts of the country helmets are mandatory. In North and South Carolina for example, all academy riders aged 10 and under are required to wear helmets at all American Saddlebred Association of the Carolinas-sanctioned horse shows, according to ASAC officer Betsy Boone.

The absence or wearing of helmets, which are not required in Arizona, represented a personal choice by parents or trainers or both. The wearing of helmets or lack thereof, had nothing to do with the Carousel Horse Show but it did bring to the attention of many that the issue does exist, as they watched young riders walk, trot and even canter around the big ring.

Whether the rule changes or not, and whether they wore a helmet or not, lots of young riders enjoyed the Arizona sunshine and the enthusiastic crowd cheering them on and represented a bright future for the industry for many years to come.

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