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Horse-Riding Helmet Law Signed by Florida Governor

In Florida, horse riders aged 16 and younger will need to wear a helmet while on horseback on most public roads, trails, and other public property -- whether riding recreationally or taking equestrian lessons -- under a new law signed today by Governor Charlie Crist.

The new Florida equestrian helmet law is part of a renewed focus by U.S. lawmakers, on how to best utilize state laws to prevent the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occur from falls during recreational activities like bicycle riding, skiing, and horseback riding.

The Florida law is being referred to as "Nicole's Law," named for a 12-year-old girl from Loxahatchee, Florida who died in June 2006 after she was thrown from a horse, according to a Press Release from the Office of the Florida Governor: "[This] legislation creates safety standards to minimize the number of serious or fatal head injuries to Florida youth sustained during equestrian activities and recreation."

"Nicole's Law" requires use of protective headgear by horse riders 16 years-old and younger, who are riding on or in public roads, right-of-ways, equestrian trails, recreation trails, parks, nature preserves, schools, or "any other publicly owned or controlled property," according to the Office of the Florida Governor.

But "Nicole's Law" does provide exceptions to the helmet requirement for horse riders aged 16 and younger who are practicing for or competing in rodeos and parades where helmets aren't typically worn, or are riding on private land.