Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Safety Done Right (and Wrong)

(since this 'Done Right' segment comes earlier and longer than usual, I'll be taking it easy next Monday)

Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro are ranked 18th after the opening day of Dressage competition on August 2 at the 2012 London Olympic Games. © Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com

Almost everything I have learned about dressage, I have learned from Stephen Colbert.  Mostly, he taught me how to pronounce the word (it does not rhyme with 'message').  But Jacqueline Brooks of Canada has taught me that even horse ballet can be a gutsy sport.  She became the first competitor in the discipline to wear a hard hat during Olympic Competition instead of the customary top hat.. Three other riders, including the gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin, also donned hard hats.  Jan Ebeling, who rode the Romney horse, did not wear a hard hat.  (Ebeling was eliminated earlier today.)

(DuJardin, left, and her fellow Team GB riders. Photo Credit: The Telegraph 2012)
The tension over helmets, between safety experts and players, occurs in every sport at every level.  Like I've said before, it often takes a tragedy for our behaviors to change.  The United States Equestrian Federation required safety helmets for dressage riders only after an Olympian was seriously injured in a horse accident in 2010.  Even then, it took a year between accident and policy change.  (In fact, I'm not sure why American riders aren't wearing hard hats at the Olympics-- perhaps the ruling only applies to U.S. competitions?  Can anyone help me out?)  What Jacqueline Brooks has shown, however, is that we don't always need tragedies or policies to force us to choose tradition over safety.  We can make the choice ourselves.  There are no special Muppets, music, or comedy to this public health story.  Brooks simply embodies it head on.

(Of course, of course, I am as impressed with making it through without a single horse pun as you are.)

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