Children saddling-up in New York are now required to wear a riding helmet if under the age of 18.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation requiring minors to wear protective head gear when mounted. Those who violate the law can face a fine of $250. Previously, the law required only those under 14 to comply.
Wearing an approved riding helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury studies have shown. The New England Journal of Medicine reports wearing helmets reduces head and brain injuries by 85%.
State Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. sponsored the bill. Thiele says he was approached by Southampton native, Gary Hornstein, whose daughter died from brain injuries after falling off a horse without a helmet in 2006. Nicole Hornstein was only 12-years-old. The young equestrian, who lived in Florida with her family, normally wore a helmet, but didn’t on the day of her accident. Her horse reportedly spooked and threw her onto the pavement. She was left in a coma and died 20 days later.
Nicole’s father said about the law, “I was grateful to be apart of something so important for the safety of our children.”
Thiele said in a statement, “I commend Mr. Hornstein’s dedication in helping to prevent anyone else’s child from being injured or any family from having to suffer the tremendous loss that he did.”
Some 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually for equestrian-related injuries, while thousands more are treated in physicians’ offices. Head injuries account for approximately 60% of deaths resulting from equestrian accidents.