Health & Wellness

USU Extension 4-H Aims to Protect Head and Health

The four h’s in the 4-H program stand for head, heart, hands and health. Utah State University Extension 4-H aims to protect 4-Hers heads and improve their health through its new helmet regulation program effective Jan. 1, 2011. The program will require all Western youth riders to wear helmets while competing in 4-H sponsored shows.
According to Colette Floyd Tebeau, USU Extension 4-H equine program coordinator, helmets are already worn by English competitors but not by Western riders.
“We want to allow people plenty of time to understand the new ruling and give them time to purchase a certified helmet that works for them,” she said. “Many other states have already adopted a mandatory helmet policy, and we feel it important to follow suit. We want to be proactive in protecting our 4-H youths, encouraging riders to wear helmets every time, every ride.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association through the Committee on Sports Medicine, the Canadian Medical Association and the American Medical Equestrian Association/Safe Riders Foundation recommend that approved, fitted and secured helmets be worn during all rides by all horseback riders.
According to the Equestrian Medical Safety Association’s Web site, a fall from 2 feet can cause permanent brain damage. A horse elevates a rider 8 feet or more above the ground. A human skull can be shattered by an impact of 4 to 12 miles per hour. Horses can gallop at 40 miles per hour. In addition, those who survive a fall with brain injury may additionally suffer epilepsy, intellectual and memory impairment and personality changes. The site states that most deaths from head injury can be prevented by wearing American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) approved helmets that fit correctly and have the harness firmly applied. Other types of helmets, including bike helmets, are inadequate for equine riding.
“As Utah’s land grant institution, we are committed to providing the people of Utah with research-based education that promotes healthy individuals and families,” said Noelle E. Cockett, USU Vice President of Extension and Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture. “Therefore, it’s appropriate that we have a ruling to safeguard those participating in our Equestrian Program. With approximately 2,837 youths participating statewide, we have an obligation to do all we can to reduce the likelihood of injury.”
Kevin Kesler, USU Extension Director of Utah 4-H programs, said to encourage helmet use, the 4-H program, USU Extension, USU’s Equine Education Program and others are sponsoring an equestrian helmet rebate program where participants will receive a $10 rebate on ASTM and SEI-approved helmets purchased between Jan. 1 and June 1, 2010.
“We feel if we offer an incentive, we can stimulate the purchase of helmets so our 4-H riders can begin wearing them and getting used to them.” he said.
More information on the helmet rebate program and rebate forms are available online. Photos of helmet styles available for various equestrian disciplines and activities are also available online. For further information on the new 4-H helmet regulations, visit the Web site.       
Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810
Contact: Colette Floyd Tebeau, 435-797-1251
4-H horse riders in helmets prepare for competition

Western riders sporting helmets as they prepare for an upcoming competition.


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