A requirement for safety helmets to be worn by riders in all equestrian shows is a good idea and, by and large, the helmets look ok. But dressage needs something that is as elegant as the sport itself. Something that looks like, well, the traditional top hat.
After watching the Olympics dressage, where some riders wore top hats and some wore crash helmets, I thought can’t technology come up with a protective helmet with style? I googled it and, yes, others have thought the same thing.
The helmet on the left looks good. I’d like to see it on a human head to see its proportions and if it still looks good when on. The dressage helmet below does have the shape of a top hat and obviously the protective capabilities of a helmet. But its size, with that protection, makes it also makes it look kinda like The Cat in the Hat.
A serious head injury in 2010 by Olympics dressage rider Courtney King-Dye started the move for helmets for all riders in all disciplines. Yes, it’s a good idea. A horse cantering, no matter how elegantly in dressage, is still moving at a good speed and a fall can cause the rider a lot of damage.
But dressage, of all the equestrian sports, is also an art form. Looks and beauty of movement on the part of horse and rider is an important element. Riders wearing a standard shaped crash helmet may as well complete the look by wearing snowmobile pants.
In show jumping and eventing, the crash helmet somehow doesn’t look as bad. These are more clearly “sport” even though there is artistry in what horse and rider are doing.
But in dressage, the athleticism involved is hidden from view so that the beauty of the movement can be seen. Like in figure skating, circus performance and dance. You know these are superb athletes but you don’t want to see the strain of muscles pumping. You want to see the beauty and fluidity of motion.
If dressage riders are going to wear standard issue crash helmets, you might as well demand ballerinas wear knee and elbow pads. Please, scientists, keep working on a helmet that preserves the elegance of dressage as well as the heads of riders. While you’re at it, a protective cowboy hat for reining would be good. The look of that hat is important too.
Congratulations to Team GB for winning gold in team dressage and show jumping. And thanks to all competitors for incredibly exciting and beautiful performances.