9 Best Riding Helmets | March 2017
- clip closure harness adds security
- choose from five color options
- a bit tight on rounder heads
- fits true to size
- liner can be removed and washed
- makes your head look a bit big
- removable cushioned head liner
- comes in matte and glossy finishes
- comfortable and inexpensive
- microfiber suede outer lining
- comes in one-eighth size increments
- quality is worth the high cost
- lightweight for long riding days
- removable breakaway visor
- designed to stay clear of your face
- comfortable padded harness
- washable and antimicrobial liner
- suitable for wearing in competitions
How To Get The Most Protection From A Helmet
Most riding helmets on the market are rather visually appealing, topping off your riding apparel nicely, but they are not just accessories. They can make the difference between a fall that just temporarily throws you off your horse, and a fall that changes your life forever, or possibly ends it. So you need to take helmet shopping seriously.
When searching for a helmet, you want to find one that is approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM test equestrian helmets to see how they hold up to things like sharp or blunt blows, extreme temperatures (you can’t wear materials that diminish in the sun, leaving you vulnerable), drops, and harness strength.
Even if a company sells helmets that are not ASTM certified and assures you their product does meet ASTM certification standards, you have to question why they didn’t go through the official test. Though there are other certifiers like Snell and Kitmark; ASTM is the only one that approves helmets for professional level riding.
There are several types of equestrian riding helmets in a range of designs , but if you are a rigorous rider and do a lot of jumping, your best bet is a skull cap or an eventing design since these offer more protection along the backs and sides. Keep in mind though, that these types often don’t have a sun-blocking brim. That is on purpose, since competitive riders need all the visibility they can get. But if you want a helmet that can double as a competitive and leisurely riding one, try one with a see-through brim; that offers the best of both worlds.
The Top Dumb Excuses Not To Wear A Helmet
People come up with some pretty stupid reasons to not wear a helmet. One such excuse is, “I know how to do an emergency stop and dismount.” Fine, but do you know how to do that in a real life, high-pressure, life-threatening situation? Or do you just know how to do that in the calm, comfortable surroundings of a practice ring?
Pulling off an emergency stop and dismount, when you are truly fearing for your life, is not as easy as pulling one off in theory. And even if you are an expert at these maneuvers, are you willing to bet your life on your skills?
Some riders complain that helmets give them headaches. This is a tragic and uneducated reason to stop wearing them. If your helmet gives you a headache, you’re simply wearing the wrong one. A pro shop can easily fit you for the perfect model that will not cause you pain, and will keep you safe. Sadly, some people give vein excuses like, “Helmets mess up my hair” or “I don't want to sweat and develop acne.” If you ask any of the thousands who have suffered a life-threatening head injury from riding, they will tell you that they would rather be alive with some pimples and bad hair than the alternative option.
One major excuse people use is masked as an explanation. Some people wear a helmet, but it’s not a riding one. While this is certainly better than wearing no head protection, you have to keep in mind that bicycle or motorcycle helmets are not designed with horseback riding risks in mind. Equestrian helmets are built to help you survive falling off of a horse, and a horse is much taller than a bicycle or motorcycle. Ultimately, there is no good reason not to protect your head.
Alarming Riding Accident Statistics
Stables and riding trails are so peaceful. During off-hours, you see sleepy horses happily wagging their tails, riders grooming their prized pet, and maybe some commentators enjoying lemonade between races. These settings are nothing like the high adrenaline tracks of Nascar races, but don’t let the visual differences fool you. The truth is that more people end up in the hospital every year due to horseback riding accidents than due to a motorcycle, football, or ski accident.
Some people might say that horses are more predictable than vehicles since you can usually tell a horse is breaking down long before it can no longer ride. Meanwhile, vehicles can be running apparently smoothly until they suddenly stop in the middle of a highway of rushing traffic.
But horses are unpredictable in their own ways since they are living animals. Twenty percent of horse-related accidents don’t even happen while the person is riding a horse, but rather when they are simply standing near them. Why? Because horses have feelings, they can become scared or angry, and suddenly kick their legs in the air.
If you believe that, should you fall, the chances it will result in a head injury are small, you’re wrong. Of the over 70,000 people who go to the hospital every year due to a horse riding accident, over 12,000 of those will have suffered a head injury. That means over twenty percent of horse riding accidents result in a head injury.