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Helmets in Barrel Racing? An Announcer's Take

In our line of work, we hear from a LOT of riders. Often they'll share with us what made them first start wearing a helmet, be it a simple accident or near fatality, while others will tell us about their recovery after a fall. But, it's rare that we'll hear from someone outside the ring.

That's why we were especially moved when Jim Wahlenmaier, a barrel race announcer out of Abilene, Texas reached out. Jim has witnessed thousands of races in his life and has a unique perspective on how the industry is changing. Here, Jim shares his thoughts on helmets in barrel racing including a moment he witnessed firsthand where his wife took a particularly scary fall. 

Dear Troxel Helmets,

I have been an announcer for several years and have seen quite a few accidents in the barrel racing world. When helmets came out a few years ago, there were very few who really grasped the fact that a helmet could save them from a major accident or even worse a fatality. They weren’t really as “cute” as those cowboy hats.

A year ago, I made my wife start wearing a Troxel helmet. Three weeks ago her horse slipped going around the first barrel and when the horse got up its front hoof hit her head and the rear feet got her in the abdomen and legs. She ended up with a broken thumb, a lot of bruising and a whiplash.

I was announcing this race and when she went down and didn’t get up my heart dropped and I jumped out of the announcer’s booth and ran to check on her. She was taken to the ER and checked out. We didn’t realize until later that the horse had hit her head until after watching the video. We then looked at her helmet and we could see where the hoof hit it. The Troxel helmet probably saved her life or at least saved her from being hurt more severely.

I encourage everyone to wear a helmet when riding, no matter if you are in competition or just riding around the house. You never know when that one time it might happen to you. Please, please encourage everyone to wear a helmet. Thank you Troxel for making a superior product for the safety of riders.


Jim Wahlenmaier


Have you ever been involved in an equestrian accident? Please share your story with us, and we'll post in the Headsmart Testimonials to help promote rider safety. Be sure to include a photo!

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