Professional barrel racer Fallon Taylor, riding her little homegrown sorrel mare, Babyflo, has been setting a groundbreaking example of riding safety by putting on a helmet since the third round of the 2014 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
We expect the trend to continue, as Taylor has been running down the Thomas and Mack alley decked out in the vibrant attire she’s known for, each ensemble topped with a color-coordinated helmet. Check out her own line of stylish, edgy western Ranch Dress’n apparel!
On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the pioneering rodeo athlete offered to donate $100 to K9s4 kids for every NFR competitor riding in round 7 while wearing a helmet. Although the pack of other top-ranked barrel racers opted not to show support for the cause by putting on their own helmets, several riders in other events (bull riding, for example) willingly participated.
Despite a few absurdly critical statements, the general response to Taylor sporting her fashion forward helmets has been exceedingly positive. A genuine outpouring of fan support and public encouragement applauds Fallon’s brave example! Wearing a helmet for western riding is still somewhat unusual. While riders in English disciplines regularly add helmets to their equestrian ensembles for safety reasons, the Western culture has been hesitant to follow suit. Conscientious fans of barrel racing and western riding (adults and youth alike) have expressed great appreciation this past week for Fallon Taylor’s willingness to speak out about why she wears a helmet and share her personal reasons for positively encouraging others to do so.
Riders and racing fans quickly noticed the compromised ground quality during the first two nights of the 2014 NFR barrel event. Many years ago Fallon had an accident that resulted in terrible injuries, threatening her ability to continue a professional riding career. Unwilling to gamble unnecessarily on another injury of that magnitude, she and her family decided it would be prudent to strap on the helmet, despite the fact that it’s not part of the traditional Western riding costume.
More and more studies show the devastating impact of traumatic brain injuries and explain the brain’s inability to heal completely after serious concussion. Raising awareness hasn’t always proven helpful in convincing folks to adopt more safety-conscious riding habits. No one wants to be told what do to. Hopping up on a soap box and preaching about the risk of riding without head protection often falls on deaf (if not altogether angry) ears. The wearing of the helmet should be an entirely personal, judgement-free choice.
Fallon Taylor’s playful approach of making the helmet an integral part of her fast, fun routine and incorporating colorful selections into her attire add an element of coolness that just may make some riders a little more accepting of its wear-ability. By making helmets a fashionable accessory and simply adding them to style-conscious riding attire, equestrians in all disciplines are allowed to look at the helmet not as a piece of cumbersome safety gear, but rather as a colorful, sporty hat that just happens to help keep our brains intact.
Hopefully Fallon’s fun, encouraging example will simply help others make the same cool, safety-conscious choice!