It was our usual tuesday night play group - a bunch of folks getting together to work on horsemanship. Most of us, myself included ride in bareback pads. There were two new horses/riders in the group and everyone was clustered loosely in that corner of the arena, talking. We have a great mounting block - its three full solid wood steps. I had to repeatedly ask my horse to line up at the block - this was completely unlike my gelding. He's a been there, done that steady-eddie kind of guy who will wait an eternity at the block, normally. I figured it was because there was a lot going on, so I asked the nearest rider to move away and give us some room. I was distracted and went to jump up - well unfortunately that was also the same moment he decided to step away. With one leg not quite over and the other in the air, I went down. Hard.
As I came down, the back of my leg hit the mounting block and the back of my helmeted head hit the dirt with a loud CRACK! Even with the excellent fit of my helmet (which did not move at all), I could still feel my brain slosh a bit inside my skull. I laid there for a bit to make sure everything was still in the right place. My horse waited patiently for me to get up. In addition to feeling sheepish about falling for an audience, I also felt giddy and amused.
I know that my helmet made the difference between being able to get back on and a trip to the emergency room. So if you think there is ever a moment or a horse that is "safe" - there isn't. I was in a safe environment with safe horse doing something I've safely done a thousand times. It can happen to anyone any time. Wear your helmet, every time, every ride.