Let’s face it, rodeo is one of the most hardcore sports out there. It has a reputation for incurring bone-crushing injuries on its participants and riders, and also giving long-term riders bad back and neck problems. The most common injuries in rodeos occur to the knee and shoulder, but medical professionals have found that serious injuries are much less common when riders suit up in the appropriate protective gear prior to riding.
Riders are encouraged to wear protective head gear, in addition to a Donjoy BOA Back Brace if the back is already under significant stress. Protective vests have also been proven to prevent punctures to the rib and chest. While many riders have been open to wearing this type of gear underneath their clothing, the majority are still unwilling to trade in their “macho” image for better head protection in the form of a quality helmet.
The medical world has often expressed public concern for the safety of riders in rodeos. In the popular sports journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, Dr. Daniel J. Downey of Pioneer Medical Specialists in Dillon, Montana says that "Our hope is that the sport of rodeo will be made safer for the athlete through greater physician interaction with the rodeo organizations and athletes in the future." As scientists work to develop better protective gear for riders, the sport of rodeo can envision a future that is hopefully relatively injury-free.
Protective gear including helmets and vests for Rodeo has very slowly been accepted by these brave athletes. This is a great article that speaks about this transition.
He borrowed a friend's helmet on a whim. While riding in the competition, Ives was bucked off. The bull's hind feet landed on the 21-year-old's head, shattering the helmet. It could have been his skull. The experience prompted Ives to convert from the traditional cowboy hat to a helmet. That includes his riding in this week's Tucson Rodeo.
"If we ride bulls, we're going to get stepped on," Ives said.
Seven of the 12 bull riders wore helmets while competing Saturday, the opening day of La Fiesta de los Vaqueros at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. Ives is part of a growing national trend of bull riders who wear helmets, though the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association doesn't require it.
About 40 percent of professional bull riders now wear helmets, compared with 5 percent a decade ago, according to researchers at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.
"It's starting to become more accepted. Back in the day, it wasn't macho; it wasn't cowboy; it wasn't tough," said Andy Hopkins, program manager for the Justin Boots Sportsmedicine Team currently stationed at the Tucson Rodeo. He'll occasionally see a bronc rider wear one, but it's mostly bull riders, he said. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's 2006 world bull-riding champion, B.J. Schumacher, wears a helmet. Wesley Silcox, the 2007 world champion bull rider, is among the majority who don't. "I didn't start out wearing a helmet, and it just doesn't feel right. … I just don't want to change anything from what I've been doing," said Silcox, 22.
He broke his jaw and fractured his eye socket last October — and though that did make him think about wearing a helmet, he decided against it.
"If I get hit in the face, I probably deserve it," he said. Silcox will compete in the Tucson Rodeo on Friday.
The earlier kids start wearing helmets, the more accustomed to it they become, said Michael Allison Sr., a rodeo dad who helps out as a volunteer at the Tucson Rodeo. His 18-year-old son prefers not to wear one, he said.
The Tucson Rodeo pro
The need for Horseback Riding and Equestrian Helmets is sort of "no brainer" especially when you look at the facts related to head injuries in horse related activities. This information from Troxel Helmets medical advisor makes all this very clear.
About 7,000,000 people participate in horse activities in the USA annually.
Whether riding Western or English, the height above the ground and the variables introduced by the horse itself, create an environment where head injuries are relatively common. Despite the agility and experience of a rider, it is often impossible to adjust one’s position during a fall to avoid a high energy, head impact with the ground, rock, or other objects.
Facts from a range of equestrian studies:
· 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms because of equestrian related injuries accounting for an estimated 2,300 admissions annually. Head injuries account for 18% of emergency room injuries.
· Lifetime riders who report riding six or more times per year reported a 13% lifetime rate of being hospitalized because of a riding injury.
· Head injuries account for the majority of hospitalizations and deaths.
· The risk of head injuries appears to be similar in English riding as compared to Western riding. Rates increase with aggressive riding such as jockeys and eventors.
· The mechanism of the majority of equestrian related head injuries relates to your dis