My niece (Caroline, 8) is horse CRAZY!! Since she has never taken lessons, she always rode in her buddy saddle behind me. Never thinking about a helmet because we were on the "safe" horse. The horse that was a rock when kids were on her.
One nice fall day (back in 2010) we all went on a trail ride. This particular trail had a path that used to be a gravel logging road. Through years of neglect and rain the road (steep incline) had become full of ruts and holes. The "rock" became spooked and started running, bucking, and crow hopping side to side and up the incline. My niece nearly fell off, the only thing keeping her on was one stirrup, her leg around my waist, and me grabbing her arm. It was THAT close. Should she have come off completely, I am certain that IF she survived she would have never been the same.
The new rule that day was NO more rides until a helmet could be bought. We are both saving up for a helmet as I too could have been seriously injured that day. To this day we do not know what got into the horse as no other horse reacted at that time. It is taking us quite a while and our "rock" is more than ready to get back out on the trail, but we know that a helmet is a MUST have from now on. Thank you troxel for putting helmet safety at the forefront of all of our minds!