Vote for the Tipperary T2 #mindyourmelon Contest Winner

One of these may be in my future! Check out all the ventilation on the Tipperary T2. Photo by Lorraine Peachey One of these may be in my future! Check out all the ventilation on the Tipperary T2. Photo by Lorraine Peachey

In honor of Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day on July 12, we launched a contest in partnership with Tipperary to win one of their awesome T-Series T2 helmets. We’ve already reviewed the helmet here and given it two thumbs up, and you can check out more features of the T2 on Tipperary’s website. We asked you to send us your inspiring #mindyourmelon stories, and you delivered!

Without further ado, we present the 10 finalists for your voting consideration. Each story is inspiring and a great testament to the importance of helmets. Read through, and cast your vote in the poll at the bottom of the post for the winner of the Tipperary T2 helmet! Voting will end on Sunday, July 26 at 5 p.m. EST!


Is it the Big Dipper or the Little Dipper?

Bethany Siehr:

I took a winter off eventing to improve my dressage (and hopefully see less “star gazing” and “upside-down neck” comments on my dressage tests). I scored a working student position with an upper-level trainer in Wellington, Fla. Let’s call her “Amy.” This is her story.

I was grooming for Amy at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W in 2010, and we had arrived early to set up and get some horses worked. As I was searching for our stalls, I was excited to see we were stabled next to Courtney King-Dye.

Amy had taken some lessons with her earlier, and she answered my questions even though I was just lower on the food chain a working student. I immediately liked her. The next day, we arrived at the show, and all of Courtney’s stalls were still empty.

It wasn’t long before we found out about what happened (read about it here). Amy and I were stunned. We sat absorbing the impact of such a tragedy until we could not avoid the clock any longer. As I handed Amy her next horse to ride, she asked, “Can I borrow your helmet?” Amy bought a helmet that day on the show grounds and has worn one every day and every ride since.

Photo by Sophia Bromund.

Minding my melon in Iceland! Photo by Sophia Bromund.

Joan Davis:

I’ve always been one to “mind my melon” when riding. I had a nasty fall in 1978 jumping my Prelim horse over a teeny warm up fence. The result was a nasty head and neck injury, plus short-term amnesia. If I hadn’t been wearing an approved helmet, I would not be writing this today.

Doctors told me no more riding, but I continued for 20+ years competing through the CCI* (long format) level! In 2001, I aggravated the initial injury, and it was no more riding for me. Words cannot describe the depression that followed.

I have stayed connected to the eventing community as an official photographer. Fast forward a dozen or so years. While photographing in Iceland last month, I had the opportunity to ride an Icelandic horse.

Amazingly, those gorgeous tolting creatures did not aggravate my neck at all! It seems, after thinking I would only be able to capture moments of other people riding, I may be able to ride again after all. My old riding helmet was tossed years ago. A new helmet to “mind my melon” is the first step to see if I really can get back in the saddle again.


Kelleyerin Clabaugh:

After investing $150,000 of tuition into my melon, I started thinking I should invest in a helmet. Compared to when I was a kid, helmet technology had improved, and they weren’t so awful looking or uncomfortable. I bought the lightest, most ventilated one I could find.

On the day I forgot to put the breast collar on my mare, I fortunately did not forget to grab my helmet. A few miles out, a couple dogs popped out of the tall grass. My mare jumped into her teleporter and reappeared five feet to the left.

I amazingly remained in the saddle, but the saddle did not remain on top of my horse. I found myself sitting in the tack underneath my horse staring between her front legs. I had about one second to figure out what to do. I let go and fell to the ground under my horse and assumed the fetal position. Freaked out by this unusual dismount, she then jumped over me, striking my head with her shod hind hooves.

Fortunately, my helmet cracked instead of my skull. Buying a new helmet was a small price to pay for a poignant lesson. Never forget your breast collar when riding a witherless horse. And never forget your helmet even when you are just going for a walk.

Lynsey Ekema:

The show was in three days, and it was our first recognized event moving up to Novice! My trainer had prepped us, and we felt more than ready for our level … but this day, I apparently needed a reminder on how on top of your game you need to be in our sport at all times. Simply, I got popped out of the tack in our jump lesson.

My guy made the right decision, and I was not there with him. In those slow milliseconds in meeting the ground, I remember the sound of my helmet cam shutting off itself and the resounding thud of my helmet hitting the ground. After my breath came back to me, my poor husband pointed out the 10-foot skid mark I had made. As I think about it now, my back pain was a brutal reminder of our sport.

It hurt, yes, dear God it hurt, but my head did not. This was a reality check I needed. I became driven to succeed as a safe and prepared rider, to always do my best by my horse and everything I can’t leave behind. Three days later, we won our first event in Novice at Paradise Farm! But if I had not been wearing a helmet …

Using my helmet to elevate my leg after my fall!

Using my helmet to elevate my leg after my fall!

Kendra Lynch:

I recently took a nasty spill off a horse on June 18, 2014. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet, and its structure may now be compromised. Unfortunately, I ended up breaking my tibia. With all my hospital bill,s a shiny new helmet would brighten my day and get me ready for when the doc gives me the OK to do some arena riding. I can’t stress enough how proud our group is to be avid helmet-wearers!


Jess Kavanagh:

I #mindmymelon because my horse is a tank who wouldn’t even flinch to a marching band between her legs. I #mindmymelon because every once in awhile, something extra scary comes by. I #mindmymelon because that scary thing always comes after her when I’m bareback in the field.

I #mindmymelon because I want the chance to stand up after flying off, get back on and show Holly that that piece of farm machinery can’t hurt her. I #mindmymelon because we’ve been improving so much over the last year, and we can’t improve if I’m living in a hospital bed. I #mindmymelon because my family has generously provided me with the gift of my horse, and I would never want them to have to pay for my medical bills after severe brain damage.

I #mindmymelon because I never thought I could love a horse so much, and I won’t throw that all away over such a preventable injury. And finally, I #mindmymelon because helmets are one of my favorite riding accessories (hello, fun helmet covers).

I #mindmymelon because there IS a helmet out there that fits you properly and is flattering. And, I #mindmymelon because it doesn’t have to break the bank to protect my head and my future with Holly.


Sarah Micola:

I don’t remember too much of my accident, but I do know my helmet saved my melon. It was about 15 years ago, and I was taking a lesson on one of the riding facility’s ponies. We were jumping during the lesson, and my reins broke; off I went. I landed in a crumpled mess under the pony.

I regained consciousness just in time to have the base of my skull stepped on. I was rushed to the local ER for treatment. I was able to walk out of there with only a serious concussion. The doctors told me had I not been wearing my helmet, the outcome would have been a lot worse (permanently paralyzed or worse). When I finally looked at the helmet,  there was a perfect imprint of the hoof in the back of it. I held onto it for years as a constant reminder of why I will never ride without a helmet.

Lorie Richards:

My daughter has been riding for years, and as a single mom I can’t afford a lot of newer equipment for her. Recently, she was at Middleburg Horse Trials and riding in the Preliminary division. She has always been very stickable when it comes to issues at fences, until this event.

Her horse stopped, and she fell head over tea kettle, so to speak, and it was all caught on tape. This has been only the second time she has had a rider fall, and the first time she fell, she landed on her feet. This time she was really lucky to be wearing a helmet because she landed on her head!

She has had severe concussions from a kick to the head, which a helmet saved her, and in field hockey. Being a single mom, I know she should have a new helmet after a fall, but at the moment, I can’t afford to get her a new one. It would be great to win a new helmet for her.


Belinda Macke:

I grew up riding western (no helmets ever!), but when I got my boy as a 2 year old, he had definite opinions on what he wanted to do (jump things), so we switched to English. Unfortunately, no one in first barn pressed the helmet importance unless jumping was involved.

When my tall, leggy guy was 4, he tripped as I asked for the canter, and I ended up sailing past his big shoulder thinking, “Oh [crap], this is going to hurt!”

A massive seizure, a skull broken into eight pieces, two golf ball-sized hematoma, two resuscitations, ribs broken down my right side and a torn rotator cuff followed. I’m completely fine now, seven years later, but you will NEVER see me without my helmet again because while lightening may not strike twice, big falls do!


Gene Gartner:

Some 15 years ago I was travelling on business. I was about to give a presentation to another company when my cell phone rang. It was the local emergency crew calling me to tell me that they were taking my wife to the hospital with a broken collarbone and head injuries.

They said that she had been riding her horse, and that’s all they knew. Luckily, she had been wearing her helmet. Our best guess is the horse had spooked when bitten by a horse fly. He pitched my wife into a board fence, which broke her collarbone and helmet in five places. Because of the helmet doing its job, she got away with only a concussion and the broken collarbone.

I guarantee we are never on a horse without a helmet.

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