I am a 59 year old barrel racer that has been wearing a helmet for around 12 years. I am from Ontario Canada and I do believe I was one of the first adults that started wearing one.
I firmly believe we ride the fastest horses in a short distance and should certainly be wearing head protection. We are the only horse racing discipline that do not as a rule. I originally put a helmet on after a horse I was riding fell down on the way into first can, and as we slid by, my head banged the can. It was enough for me to see stars and have a pretty good bump. I have worn a helmet ever since.
My husband, who was new to the sport, complained constantly that I made him wear a helmet, until his horse dodged one way and he went another. For one small moment he was out cold, but I know, the damage would have been worse had he hit his head on the hard ground without the protection.
I applaud the top barrel racers in the world that have started to wear helmets and who seem to have started a trend with the younger people. Yes, I get it. A helmet will mess your hair and it doesn't look western. I have worked in the brain injury unit at my hospital, and let me tell you, very bluntly, you will not care what your hair looks like or if you are cool if you end up in my unit because you hit your head without a helmet to help protect it.
One of the most memorable times came when I was at a horse show and a man came up to me with his two kids, both wearing helmets, and asked me where I got mine. He said to me, I am glad to see another adult wearing one, my kids have been after me to wear one because I make them wear one. I said, good choice dad. I did not think such a simple thing as me wearing a helmet would actually prompt anyone else to make that decision. More and more adults here are now wearing helmets and for that, I am so happy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.