Rutgers University Equine Science Center has partnered with New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer to bring awareness to equestrian safety, announcing the inaugural “New Jersey Equestrian Safety Week” to be held from Sunday, June 5 to Saturday, June 11, 2022.
Riding is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the United States because injuries are more likely to be severe and require hospitalization than injuries resulting from other sports, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the most common injuries reported among those injured while riding. These injuries can be significantly reduced though, with things like a well-fitting helmet (to reduce the chances of a head injury), or a safety vest (such as a foam safety vest which is designed to protect the torso during a fall).
With the importance of maintaining and replacing these critical items as they become less effective over time, New Jersey Equestrian Safety Week brings together equestrian tack shops throughout New Jersey to provide discounts, store credits, and more to any equine enthusiast who trades in their out-of-date, or unsafe, helmet or vest.
“Most helmets are recommended to be replaced after 5 years, but other circumstances such as where they are stored, if they have been stored in a temperature safe environment, and even sun exposure can affect the life and effectiveness of a helmet,” said Rutgers University Ph.D. Candidate, Ellen Rankins. “Some of the most important things to remember with helmets though is that each helmet is different, so make sure to find and use the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan for a helmet; and the most important thing is that once a helmet is used to help cushion a fall, the helmet is no longer safe to use no matter how small the fall was.”
Some manufacturers offer a coupon for a new helmet, or a new helmet with a replacement fee, after it is used during a fall; but often this is only covered within a certain timeframe after purchase, requires a receipt, and has other stipulations.
Assemblyman Dancer agreed to join the Equine Science Center in bringing awareness to equestrian safety, a longtime commitment of his. Dancer was a professional trainer and driver with the Stanley Dancer Horse Racing Stables from 1972 to 1994; served as the United States Trotting Association Director representing New Jersey from 1984 to 1995; and served as the Chairman of the association’s racing helmet safety research and development committee, whose work led to the first safety standards for drivers’ helmets.
“Assemblyman Dancer’s lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of horses and equestrians makes him the perfect partner to work with to bring awareness to this campaign,” said Equine Science Center Director, Karyn Malinowski. “While he might be humble about how much work went into it, his work to ensure the safety of horseracing drivers is something that should be highlighted and commended.”
The creation of the week is the work of Rankins, as well as Equine Science Center Public Relations Specialist, Kyle Hartmann, who believed New Jersey’s “Month of the Horse” in June would be a perfect time to focus on this important campaign.
“What started as a blog post for our “Equine Science 4 Kids!” program, which will focus on facts and tips about checking your helmet and vest, has morphed into a truly remarkable partnership with Assemblyman Dancer, tack shops throughout New Jersey, and the Equine Science Center,” said Hartmann. “We now have a week full of equestrian safety facts and tips, and even a picture competition to show off your new helmet, that will be posted to our social media throughout the week.”
Information on safety vests will also be included in the weeklong campaign, which has its own set of storage, maintenance, and lifespan recommendations. Air vests, which if being used should be worn over a traditional safety vest, also have their own set of recommendations that should be followed.
“As more equine enthusiasts are getting ready to ride or drive their horses as we enter the summer months, this is the perfect time to check your tack room and make sure all that safety equipment is up to date,” said Rankins. “If you realize that any of your equipment is out of date, damaged, or looks like it needs replacing, you’ll want to visit a New Jersey tack shop during New Jersey’s Equestrian Safety Awareness Week to take advantage of the discounts and store credits that they will be offering.”
The following tack stores will be offering discounts and/or store credit on safety equipment:
Dover Saddlery – 3150 US Hwy 22, Branchburg, NJ 08876
Equitique – 2737 NJ-23 #4, Stockholm, NJ 07460
Horseman’s Outlet – 37 Molasses Hill Rd, Lebanon, NJ 08833
Rick’s Saddle Shop – 282 County Road #539, Cream Ridge, NJ 08514