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We Are Flying Solo

April 24, 2010

My New Hero

Unless you live under a rock, you may be aware that Rolex is going on this weekend.  The biggest, baddest, awesomest 3 Day Event in the US, four stars of challenge for the world's best horses and riders.

One of the big letdowns of watching these top-level events for me, though, has always been that not a single one of those riders, who strap on multiple layers of safety equipment to run cross country, don a simple helmet for the dressage ring. Until now.

Allison Springer, you are my new hero.

Pictured here in a beautiful Josh Walker photo from USEA, she rode down centerline on her stunning horse, Arthur, and scored a 43.7, putting her solidly in second place, behind only Britain's William Fox-Pitt. All in a classy velvet helmet with her tails. Which, by the way, hunters have been doing forever.

So, riders, no more excuses that your score will suffer because the "judge will think my horse is spooky" or "everyone will laugh at me." It's not high school (ok, there is a lot of drama and gossip, but still), be an adult, have the guts to buck ridiculous convention that makes no sense. Allison had the cojones to walk the walk and you know what -- internet message boards everywhere are singing her praises, fans are sending her support both emotional and financial, all because she was the only one in the crowd brave enough to be the role model these riders are supposed to be.

So, Allison (not that she will read this, but...), you go, girl. Thank you for being the kind of strong, smart woman we need more of, not only in this sport, but in the world, who will not be the sheep and who steps out in the right direction, even if it's not what the popular kids are doing.

You freaking rock.


  1. That is just amazing, and wonderful! I get sick to my stomach when I see pictures of dressage trainers riding without helmets - what a poor example to set for students, particularly children. Eventers are leading the way!

  2. I always think that people who ride without a helmet look unfinished. If I were a dressage judge, I'd score better for people who wore a helmet!!

  3. Haha, me too, molly! I think you should have one point subtracted from your collective "rider" marks unless you are wearing a helmet. Heck, if you tried to ride even Maiden cross country without your vest, they wouldn't even let you leave the start box!

  4. I totally agree with you which is why I have a hard time with the helmetless western pleasure world I live in. I wear a helmet every time I ride at home, will wear it at shows in my hunter flat classes (we don't jump), but when it comes time for the Western I will wear a piece of wool felt. I admit being afraid of looking out of place in the adult classes, even though all the junior riders have to wear one. I didn't see one adult rider in a western class wear one all last year - oh wait, actually my trainer wore one when she did a reining pattern. She rocks. Both for the helmet, and because she won the class and she'd never been on the horse before, but I digress.

    Hopefully someday they'll make a western helmet that doesn't look like this:

  5. Ok, SillyPony, you know what that means -- Allison took the first step, now it's up to YOU to step out and set the smart example!

  6. Completely agree - I was glad to see someone at this level wearing a helmet. In Pony Club we're required to watch "the helmet video" once a year. It explains the physics and has stories of both people who didn't wear a helmet and either lived to regret it or didn't live, and then stories of people who did wear helmets and survived horrible accidents. All very sobering to think about.

  7. THAT IS AWESOME! Your blog was the first I'd heard of this. I firmly believe that no matter how good of a rider you are, anything can happen at anytime when you're on a horse. My motto is "Nobody PLANS to fall off!". It's absolutely time to do away with those traditional and unsafe top hats and encourage more of these PROFESSIONALS to set a better example :) Thanks for blogging on this!

  8. What a great post! I couldn't agree more. I've sent the good thoughts to Allison and know she'll love your support! And THANKS for linking to my blog, Three Days Three Ways. You're the best. And, by the way, I love your blog and added it to my blogroll so more people can enjoy it as much as I do!

  9. Aw, thanks, 3D3W -- and Solo says thanks too! We are honored to be linked on your super-fab page! Woohoo for eventing!