Back when I was maybe 9 or 10, I rode at a super kid friendly barn in NY. It was maybe a half hour from my house… almost all by back roads. (I cannot believe my mom made that drive for me every week.)

How every adult probably felt…

Anyway, being a super kid friendly barn. It had A TON of school horses. I still remember them being turned out by just opening all their stalls… and turned back in by opening the paddock gates. Us kids knew to just get out of the way. Haha.

It also had HUGE group lessons. Like a lesson with 10 kids in it was not unheard of. Most of the time, we would canter one at a time, and then jump one at a time. So it wasn’t a total free for all. I LOVED that barn. I loved my instructors. I loved all the ponies. I spent a RIDICULOUS amount of time there, given my age.

When I was in college, or maybe a year or two out of college, I went back there one day… It’s the only time in my life I have encountered the old adage “you can’t go back”. There were new kids running around, and new ponies in the stalls. It was bitter sweet, but this isn’t about that day… this is about one particular lesson.

I remember that on one of these 9 or 10 year old days, I was dropped off at the barn, and it was POURING. Did I care? NOPE because it was PONY TIME. (There was no indoor of course)

So there I was, in my raincoat. My paddock boots (some kind of paddock boot/sneaker hybrid) securely tied to my feet. I rode a buckskin pony named Cocoa. I am not sure where all those school ponies came from, but they were saints on hooves.

I went my entire lesson on Cocoa in the Dressage arena. (We were not doing dressage, but I distinctly remember it being in that ring). When I got off, I put Cocoa in his stall and pulled his bridle off (I didn’t learn about crossties until I was almost a teenager). I hung his bridle on the hook… and went to take off my helmet.

Uhhh yeah. There was no helmet on my head. I had ridden an entire, hour-long group lesson in my rain coat, with the hood pulled way up… and no helmet on. As a responsible 9 year old (or so), I told no one… out of total fear of me losing my riding privileges.

I think I actually put my helmet ON THEN… to try and show that I was wearing one in case someone suddenly became suspicious? I have no idea, but I was determined that no one found out.

Nearly two decades later, I am finally coming clean. I rode an entire lesson… without a helmet!

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  1. emma

    lol whoops! we’ve all been there tho haha. one of my barn mates has recently forgotten her helmet a couple times in a row. she’ll be riding up the (paved!) driveway, wearing her crash vest and everything else, but with like…. a baseball cap on. and when i’m like, omg Amy your helmet! she immediately hops off in shock lol. forgetfulness is so real tho, esp when we’ve already got *something* on our heads…

  2. roamingridersite

    Iโ€™m pretty paranoid about my noggin but in the winter when Iโ€™m wearing a beanie hat to keep my head warm Iโ€™ve been known to start mourning and realize there is no helmet! Thankfully Iโ€™ve noticed it right away and have been able to grab it real quick.

    1. Emily

      Hahah I think it’s a shockingly easy thing to forget when you have something else on your head!

  3. Carly

    After years and years of doing so I still sometimes will be five minutes into a ride and realize I haven’t buckled my chin strap. How does one not notice it dangling down their face??

    1. Emily

      Hahahaha. Hair SLIGHTLY messed up under my helmet?? Can’t even get on the horse. Chin strap not buckled? My subconscious could care less.

  4. martidoll123

    well i told you about my riding in the olden days (yes fellow readers I rode in the velveteen huntcaps that were the rage back in the 70s) How I lived through my stupidity I will never know but I did so love the farm I took lessons at from 10 years old until I was in college at 22. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good times. Stubborn Ponies. FUN! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Emily

      This is not going to make you feel old at all… but I remember my moms velveteen huntcap. I used to take it out of the box and wear it around the house. I kind of wish I still had it.

  5. Aww this takes me back to my barn rat days! I went to a similar barn where they let the horses out by opening the stalls and in by opening the paddocks. It was also the kind of place with a herd – a literal herd – of lesson horses, which lived outside in fields, and I have distinct memories of sitting on the tailgate of a pickup shoulder to shoulder with the other barn rats, with at LEAST three leadropes in hand each, helping bring the school horses from one field to another. Or sitting in the passenger seat of the truck trailing two leadropes out the window. Super safe stuff haha. Also I didn’t ride in a helmet as a child. Not until I switched from riding western to English. Oops.

    1. Emily

      Hahaha it’s amazing how some of the best memories I have of myself as a kid with horses… kind of makes me cringe as an adult. I think kids need that slightly insane pony time in their lives hahaha

      1. martidoll123

        we also let the horses in and out from the field and they ran to each stall it was amazing how none of us got killed ๐Ÿ™‚ HA

        1. Emily

          Our barn was an old cow barn. So you could jump up on a ledge out of the way… SUPER safe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Amanda C

    I grew up in the h/j world and wasn’t a habitual helmet wearer until I was in my mid-20’s. Those were different times!

    1. Emily

      Definitely! I remember a friend of mine, riding her VERY NAUGHTY A/O hunter in a hunt cap. He bucked so hard, her hunt cap came flying off… she actually CAUGHT IT and PUT IT BACK on her head mid buck. #Talent

      1. Amanda C

        I hit the ground so many times in my little hunt cap, it’s not even funny.

  7. L. Williams

    HAHAHA glad nothing happened to you! There have been a couple times in my life where I mounted and ridden to the ring with something amiss but not being able to put my finger on it and then someone pointing out once I got tot he ring that I was missing my helmet lol

    1. Emily

      Many times, I have stopped someone on their way to the mounting block, and asked them if they’re missing something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Stacie Seidman

    OOPS! So glad all went well at least! Do you feel better now that you’ve talked about it? Lol, I probably would have handled it the same way!

    1. Emily

      Hahaha Now I can definitely look back at it and laugh, but back then, I was HORRIFIED!

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