Wearing a riding helmet is very important when working with or riding horses.
Your helmet should fit snugly and must be able to protect you when in a horseriding accident. You should also know how to fit a riding hat to reduce the risk of head or brain injuries when falling off your horse.
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about selecting and fitting a helmet to ensure maximum protection when in a horseriding accident.
When Should I Wear A Riding Helmet?
UK legislation (Rule 49 of the Highway Code) requires that children only wear horse riding helmets when riding on the road but, it’s advised that you have one on at all times to ensure your safety.
Thus, when you fall off your horse or have an accident you are fully protected and minimise injuries.
Also, check with your instructor to ensure your choice of helmet is accepted as different disciplines require specific riding caps.
How Should A Riding Helmet Fit?
When first worn, your new helmet should have a comfortable, snug fit. As it ages, and the longer you use the riding hat, it will “break in” and mould itself to the shape of your head.
The helmet should not be able to move around on your head, but also shouldn’t be too tight causing you discomfort.
Getting the correct helmet sizing is important: The riding hat should not slip down which can obscure your vision and steering abilities.
How Do I Measure For A New Riding Helmet?
Use a soft fabric measuring tape when taking your measurements to find the perfect fit:
1. Choose your riding hairstyle
When calculating your measurements, always choose the hairstyle that you’d wear when going horseriding. Having a different hairstyle every time you go riding can change your measurements and head shape which can influence the fit of the riding hat. Remove any accessories (such as clips and grips) and keep your glasses on when taking your measurements.
2. Taking your measurements
Position the measuring tape 3/4 inches above your eyebrow and ear line. Now take the tape around your head, over the bump at the back of your head, until you get back to your starting point. Write down your head circumference in centimetres. Repeat the step two more times to ensure you have an accurate measurement.
If needed, ask a friend or family member to help you take accurate measurements to select a suitable helmet.
3. Try on different riding helmets
Use a riding helmet size chart to see which helmet would fit the measurements of your head. If your measurements fall between two different helmet sizes, always round up and choose the larger-sized riding hat. However, it’s suggested that you try on different horse-riding hats until you find one that fits your head snugly.
How To Check Your Helmet’s Fit
When putting on your helmet, it should fit your entire head and “lock” onto the back of your head. This ensures that the helmet fits properly and is safe and secure.
Use these tips to ensure a proper helmet fit:
1. Checking your helmet’s fit
Run your fingertips around the edge of your new riding hat to ensure it fits snugly against your head and is locked onto the back of your skull. Make sure there are not any pressure points. To ensure maximum visibility, the helmet’s brim should be positioned about one or two finger widths above your eyebrows.
2. Check your chin strap
Check that the helmet’s chin strap fits and sits comfortably when buckled. Pull the strap until it holds the helmet firmly in place without causing you discomfort. The space between the strap and your chin should be the width of about one finger.
3. Check that the helmet can’t move around on your head
Move your head forward and backwards to ensure that the helmet can’t move around or slip out of position. If the helmet moves, gently adjust the chin strap even further.
These are the factors that would affect your riding helmet’s fit:
- Head shapes: People have different head shapes which influence which type of helmet would work best for them. Some riders have round heads while others have oval-shaped heads, which can affect helmet fit and comfort.
- Helmet placing: Where exactly the helmet rests on your head also determines how snugly it’ll fit your head. The helmet should offer firm pressure when worn and should not be able to move around. The helmet’s visor should be parallel to the ground or floor level.
- Your hairstyle: Because your hairstyle can affect the shape of your head and helmet size, choose the style you’d normally wear when riding. If you have long hair, it is recommended that you wear your hair in a low bun or ponytail to ensure a snug fit.
Follow the same guidelines when trying to find a helmet for your child’s horse riding lessons. Consider their head shape, take measurements of your child’s head and use a helmet sizing chart to compare their head measurement with the correct helmet size. Also, instead of buying a larger-sized helmet (hoping they’ll “grow” into it) opt for a well-fitting helmet to ensure their safety.
Why It’s Important To Get A Certified Riding Helmet
As tempting as it is to get a cheap helmet, it is advised that your rather select and buy a certified helmet for your safety.
Certified riding helmets are designed and quality tested to provide the best possible protection during a horseriding accident or fall. Helmets – except for their hard outer shell – have several layers of padding and high-grade polystyrene to boost their protective abilities.
The higher the helmet’s certification rating, the better the protection it offers.
What should I do if I dropped my riding helmet?
If you have dropped your riding helmet, immediately and as safely as possible bring your horse to a stop. Get off and refit your helmet. You must wear your helmet at all times to protect yourself against head injuries in the event of an accident.
Good-quality riding hats are made from high-grade polystyrene which absorbs and diffuses the impact when in an accident. This helps avoid head or brain injuries.
How do I store my riding helmet?
A riding helmet is best stored in its specially-designed helmet bag. These bags protect riding helmets from any spills and scratch marks. If you do not have a helmet bag, store your riding hat in a cool and dry place to ensure its longevity.
How often should a riding helmet be replaced?
Horseriding experts suggest that you buy a new helmet every three years. You can still use it for up to five years but be advised that used helmets become very unsafe after five tears because of wear and tear and material degradation. When buying a new helmet, follow all the steps above (measuring your head size and depending on your head shape, choose a helmet that fits snug).