Smart, not scared – Nicole Aichele and her Stop the Stigma campaign

Alice-Rose Brown

In a previous article, The History of Equestrian Show Clothing Part Two, we looked at the rising trend of riders choosing to wear hard hats instead of more traditional head gear such as top hats or western hats.

World Champion dressage rider, Charlotte Dujardin, has won all of her major titles wearing a helmet rather than a top hat which is traditionally seen at top level dressage competitions.

Another top class rider that chooses to wear a helmet, and actively campaigns for helmet safety, is World Champion Barrel racer and Professional Rodeo rider – Nicole Aichele.

Who is Nicole Aichele?

In 2010 Nicole, and her horse Blondie, broke the record for the fastest time run on a WPRA Standard pattern with a time of 16.643 seconds and she broke that record wearing her helmet.

After moving on to Professional Rodeo riding Nicole continued to wear her helmet, shunning the more traditional Stetson, and this earned her the nickname “Helmet Girl”.

Nicole truly embraced the name and now continues to teach and compete whilst promoting helmet safety with her Stop the Stigma and be #HelmetTough campaigns.

What is Stop the Stigma?

The Stop the Stigma and be #HelmetTough was started by Nicole and On The Rodeo Road with the aim of stopping the stigma associated with wearing riding helmets at rodeo events.

The campaign was started after On The Rodeo Road conducted a short survey to find out why rodeo riders chose not to wear a helmet. A shocking 50% responded that they wanted to start wearing a helmet but felt the stigma associated with helmets was too great.

It was then they realised that it would be an ongoing campaign to change the way the barrel racing and rodeo industry thought about helmets and to make personal safety a priority over fashion.

The campaign then branched out into all western disciplines and Nicole promotes helmet safety at all of her barrel racing clinics.

How can I get involved with the Stop the Stigma campaign?

It doesn’t matter whether you participate in barrel racing or rodeo riding, or any other equestrian discipline, you can still be involved in the Stop the Stigma and be #HelmetTough campaign.

You can wear the #HelmetTough bracelet, show off your Stop the Stigma t-shirt, and get on social media to help spread the word and Stop the Stigma.


Helmet Tough on Facebook

Helmet Tough Website


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