Troxel Athlete, Rachel Gagliardi, is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo Association competing in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Breakaway Roping. She is the current Reserve Champion in Breakaway Away Roping and loves everything about competition. Here, Rachel talks about her introduction to steeplechase and the important lesson that can be learned from this exciting sport.
Recently, I attended my first steeplechase as a member of the Maryland Equestrian Club at the University of Maryland.
If you're not familiar with steeplechase, it's a unique sport where horse and jockey race over outdoor obstacles such as hedges and jumps. The sport originated in Ireland and has been around for centuries! I was amazed by the talent and physicality of both horse and rider in the steeplechase. But, I was also surprised to see that every rider on the premises, regardless of status as a volunteer or jockey, had a helmet on. I learned that every rider who competes is required to wear a certified helmet to offset the risk of their chosen sport.
Within rodeo, which I'm most familiar with, cowboy hats are seen much more regularly than helmets in many circuits. I personally choose to wear a helmet because of the risk involved with the sport that I love but I am the minority, not the majority.
Wearing a helmet is important for all riders across all disciplines. From barrel racers to eventers and jumpers to jockeys, helmets play an essential role in helping to keep riders safe from potential injury in a horse-related incident.
Accidents can and do happen, even when horses are standing still. Making the decision to wear a helmet may sway the outcome of an unforeseen accident. While nothing in life is certain, we can minimize our risk and take the strongest, positive step to help ensure our safety by wearing a helmet. So, why not protect yourself, your noggin and your future in your chosen discipline? Saddle up and buckle your helmet!
Rachel with her horses Ace and Hammer after a fantastic day of competition at the Pennsylvania Annual Open Fun Show Series. Rachel is wearing the Troxel Turquoise Rose Helmet.