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Aug 5, 2013 11:13 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Equestrian Helmet Legislation Signed Into Law In New York

Aug 5, 2013 11:42 AM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law legislation sponsored by State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. that will require children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding a horse. In addition to increasing the age at which a helmet is required from 14 to 18, the bill also increases the maximum fine for violating the requirement, from $50 to $250. The law takes effect immediately.

Mr. Thiele was first approached by Southampton resident Gary Hornstein during the summer of 2011 in an effort to strengthen New York’s helmet laws. While New York was the first state to enact a statute requiring the wearing of an approved equestrian helmet, the law does not adequately protect all children. Under the previous law, only children 14 years of age and younger were required to wear a helmet. Mr. Hornstein’s daughter, Nicole, died after suffering brain injuries after falling off a horse in Florida while not wearing a helmet in 2006. She was 12 years old.

Since 2011, Mr. Thiele and Mr. Hornstein have worked side by side in Albany lobbying for passage for the bill. This week, in the last few days of the legislative session, a victory was won.

“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,” Mr. Thiele said. “I thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman David Gantt, Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joseph Lentol and my fellow colleagues who recognized the importance and need for this legislation and moved the bill in the last few hours of session.”

Mr. Hornstein, who was instrumental in passing a similar bill in Florida and is currently working with several other states to introduce the same, noted, “I’m humbly so grateful to be a part of something so special—all the children are worth it. I want to give special thanks to our assemblyman, Fred Thiele, his assistant, Laura Stephenson, Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman David Gantt, and the support of my family and God.”

It has been estimated that 19 million people aged 16 years and older participate in riding activities. Approximately 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually because of equestrian-related injuries, while thousands more are treated in physicians’ offices. Head injuries account for approximately 60 percent of deaths resulting from equestrian accidents.

Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that wearing helmets reduces head and brain injuries by 85 percent.

CAILIN RILEY

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Here come the "nanny state" comments from the teaparty morons who have hijacked this site in 10, 9, 8 . . .
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Aug 5, 13 8:04 PM
3 members liked this comment
What idiot would allow a child to get on a horse without a helmet. We need a law for this too? How about making a law to stop the Easthampton Airport helicopters from flying low over Sag harbor at 6:30 AM Mr. Thiele?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Aug 5, 13 10:00 PM
. . . 0
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Aug 6, 13 10:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
Truly if you get on a horse that puts you six feet above the ground you should have enough sense to put a lid on it. You shouldn't need to legislate this.
By Hambone (514), New York on Aug 5, 13 11:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
I have gone back to riding in the earlier "80's after being away for many years. I have NEVER come across a stable or riding facility that does not require certified helmets and if I did would make quite a mention of that fact. Every stable out here works for the upmost in safety and I am very happy that they do so. Cannot speak for the up island facilities but the local BH barns follow safety rules very seriously.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 6, 13 6:38 PM