A helmet is the most important piece of equipment for horse riding and will be mandatory at any equestrian establishment that cares about the safety of its riders. Prices range from 40-50 USD to several hundred. But a higher price does not necessarily mean a higher degree of safety.
Here are the most important things to consider when buying a horse riding helmet.
Certification and specific requirements
When buying a helmet, make sure it has the ASTM / STI approved label. This means it has been produced according to strict quality and safety guidelines . The certifications vary according to geographic area and you can read more about that and how a helmet is constructed in this article.
Depending on the riding discipline you participate in, there could also be specific requirements to adhere to, especially if you are planning to compete. Make sure you check the guidelines for where you are located.
A helmet should sit about 1 inch above the eyebrows and you should be able to place 1-2 fingers between your chin and the strap when it’s closed.
The helmet should fit snuggly but still, be comfortable. It should not move when you nod or shake your head, and when pushing the brim upwards, your eyebrows should move up with it.
The helmet should not put too much pressure on your forehead or temples or pinch anywhere. Personally, I love helmets with dial adjustments at the back. This way I can loosen the dial before putting the helmet on and adjust the fit to my head (and hairstyle that day) every time.
If you will ride in hot weather, make sure there is enough ventilation for the air to pass through to cool down your nugget.
Detachable and washable lining
The inside of a helmet gets pretty grim after a while, collecting sweat, oils from the scalp, dust etc. and will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Make sure that the lining is easy to detach and reattach and that the material is machine washable.
Buying a helmet online
If you are buying your helmet at a local tack store you can obviously try on different brands and models and the staff will help you find one that suits your head and needs. If you buy online however, which means you won’t be able to try the helmet before ordering, we recommend to opt for an adjustable model that can be adapted both on the sides of the head as well as at the back or one that comes with several lining options to suit differently shaped heads.
I have an older version of this helmet from Uvex, which suits my needs well. I don’t ride every day and my budget was restricted at the time of purchase, so I didn’t want to spend too much. I mostly ride when I travel, which is usually in warmer climates, so I needed the helmet to have good ventilation. I also wanted a lightweight and not too clunky model that I could pack relatively easily into my bag or suitcase. For this kind of use, the Uvex helmet is great. If you spend many hours on horseback per week, I would opt for a model with more padding than this one as it gets a bit uncomfortable to wear for many hours at a time. But otherwise, and if your needs as similar to mine – this is a great choice! You can pick it up here from Amazon.
For safety reasons, helmets should be replaced every 5 years and I have had mine for almost that long now. I’ve been doing a lot of research and trying on different models at the tack store, and I will be purchasing the IR4G XLT Suede Helmet soon. It fulfills all my requirements for comfort, ventilation, excellent lining, and style. It is a more expensive option, but I expect to be riding more frequently in the future, so it makes sense to invest in something more comfortable.