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Barrel Racer Joins Troxel Helmets in Promoting Head Protection and Equestrian Safety
Some were surprised, even shocked, to see barrel racer Delores Toole trading her cowboy hat for a helmet during competition at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which took place on Dec. 3-12 in Las Vegas. But Toole, who competed in the elite, championship-deciding rodeo for the third time, and who finished second in the opening round, saw an opportunity to make a statement.
"I want riders...to know that it is okay to wear a helmet," said the Manter, Kansas, homemaker and pro rodeo competitor. "Helmets have become an accepted part of other dangerous sports, and it is time they became an accepted part of western riding and rodeo too."
Troxel Helmets, the leading manufacturer of certified riding helmets, signed Toole as a sponsored rider and endorser as part of a campaign to promote helmet use in the western riding segment of equitation. An appreciative parent of an aspiring barrel racer commented, "As the parent of a daughter who rodeos and wears a helmet I thank you more than you will ever know. I've let my daughter run some weekends with her cowboy hat on but most every other time she wears a helmet. The photo of you at the NFR with the helmet on will be in my trailer dressing room tomorrow. Thank you Delores, stay safe! You're the best! "
Each year, roughly 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms because of equestrian-related injuries. Tens of thousands more are treated in physician's offices. Head injuries account for about 20 percent of emergency room visits and are the leading cause of hospitalizations and death. Studies published in the professional journals "Injury" and "Pediatrics" concluded that "a significant decrease in those admitted with head injuries is associated with the increasing use of protective helmets."
While the English component of North American horse riders have widely adopted helmets as part of their riding attire, tradition continues to dominate among western riders who by-and-large prefer cowboy hats. While hats provide shade from sun and rain, they offer little or no protection during falls and collisions. But the western world and rodeo competitors are becoming more aware of the dangers of horseback riding and the catastrophic injuries that can result.
In 2003, two prominent barrel racers, not wearing helmets, were involved in serious accidents resulting in head injuries. Tragically, one was fatal. Such high-profile cases disprove the idea that injuries only happen to the young and inexperienced. In another study published in The Journal of Family Practice, it was shown that risk of injury correlates with the amount of time spent riding and working with horses, not with a rider's level of expertise. Horseback riding is a relatively dangerous activity when compared with other sports; equestrians suffer as many accidents per hour of activity as motorcycle riders.
According to Rick Timms, M.D., and Troxel CEO, the use of ASTM-certified headgear can greatly reduce the severity of head injuries and deaths among riders. "We were glad to have the opportunity to work with Delores Toole at an event of the caliber and scope of the National Finals Rodeo," said Timms. "It is our hope that her participation and enthusiasm will encourage many others to consider riding helmets as part of their equine activities."
Troxel is the world's leading provider of ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmets for competitive, schooling and recreational riding. Established in 1898, Troxel is recognized for its innovative design and research leadership in helmetry, including award-winning helmets for United States cycling and equestrian Olympic teams. Based in San Diego, California, Troxel now dedicates all its resources to equestrian helmets and related accessories, and has provided over two million helmets to the equestrian market. Troxel's CEO, Dr Richard Timms, is a research scientist and former physician specializing in critical care, and is dedicated to developing products that address public health and injury prevention.