TRUE LIFE: Wearing a Helmet in a Cowboy Hat World
Troxel Athlete, Megan Sparks, has been running barrels from the age of 3. She is a 4-time state youth champion and a 2014 IBRA 1D Open Champion. She exclusively shares her experiences of wearing a helmet in a rodeo world known for its “rough-around-the edges” persona.
Who or what influenced you to wear a helmet?
My parents. The rule was always “Wear your helmet or get off the horse.” Nowadays it is my choice, and of course I do. I love my helmet and I feel safer with it on. You never know with horses, they’re unpredictable animals.
Why do you think so many western riders are resistant to wearing helmets? Do you see this changing?
Cowboy hats have always been the tradition and there are still so many people wearing hats nowadays. So everyone gets the impression that if you’re wearing a helmet, you are a bad rider, and fall off a lot. This is not true. Those people are uneducated as to why you should wear a helmet. I don’t see this changing for older generations, but for the younger generation, yes.
Do you think wearing a helmet makes you more confident?
Yes. Wearing my helmet makes any fear I might have of falling off, or getting thrown off, go away. If I had to ride without my helmet, I don’t believe I could be as aggressive as I am now in a race.
What does it feel like to wear a helmet at the Western shows? Do you feel like others think differently of you because you wear a helmet?
I don’t pay attention to what anyone else thinks about my helmet. If they want to judge me, they can judge me by my riding, not my helmet. If I were to say others think differently of me it would be one of two things: Some people tell me they are so glad to see that I am wearing a helmet and that I am setting a good example for younger contestants. On the other hand, some people that are not very helmet educated will think a person is wearing a helmet because they cannot ride. Either way, I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, I’m going to wear my helmet. I feel incomplete running without it.
Do you feel like you have influenced others to wear a helmet?
Yes, I do feel that I have influenced some. I’ve actually had some people tell me that before, that I have influenced and inspired their child to start wearing a helmet because that’s what the "big girls" are doing. I have two students now that I work with and my rule was that they have to wear a helmet or I will not teach them. They both ordered Troxel helmets and are loving them.
What do you think about Troxel’s western helmets?
I love the new Rebel helmets! I think you guys did an awesome job designing it. I like the Rebel Star slightly more than the others because of the star design. I love stars :) And also the color, I like the natural, earthy colors. I love the colors you put together in the Rebel Rocker, the pink and black. Also the fit, the new SureFit is great because all I have to do is put the helmet it on, no adjustments needed! And it’s really comfortable, very important for those long days in the saddle.
Megan is currently training with Ty Mitchell and the team at the Josey Ranch.
Troxel’s new Rebel helmet is the latest addition to its very successful and popular line of western helmets. The new series incorporates western fashion graphics on a sporty helmet ideal for riders in and out of the arena. The new Rebel series introduces the next level of western helmets with three edgy graphics: Rocker, Cross and Star. See it here »