Equestrian Helmet Buyers Guide

Helmet buyers guide

I applaud you for choosing to wear a helmet good job! There are riders that choose not to wear helmets unless they have to because many places and competitions now require helmets.

Why Wear A Riding Helmet?

Wearing a helmet is important for your safety. Your helmet is the number one piece of gear that could save your life or prevent brain damage in the event of a fall or an accident.

Is the risk of having brain damage or worse really worth the reason for why you don’t want to wear one?

Even wearing a helmet isn’t fail-proof, you can still get a concussion when hitting your head in a fall, but…

The American Medical Equestrian Association calculates that ASTM/SEI approved helmets have reduced all riding-related head injuries by 30% and severe head injuries by 50%.

University of Connecticut

The second most helpful piece of gear that can help protect you in a fall would probably be the body protector. Check out my Helpful Buyers Guide On Equestrian Body Protectors.

Get A New Riding Helmet

So let’s get started and answer your questions so you can get your fancy new helmet.

And it should be a new helmet. Buying a used helmet is a no-no.

You don’t know if the helmet had an impact in a fall and the foam has been compromised or if the person had lice and think about their sweaty head in that helmet.

What To Look For In A Horse Riding Helmet?

Obviously, you’ll want a helmet that meets or exceeds the most common horseback riding safety standards, but what other factors should you look for? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Helmet shape. Everyone has a different shaped head. Some helmets are more oval meaning narrower on the sides and a longer front to back. While other helmets are more round meaning equal side to side and front to front.
  2. Type of riding. If you are going on long trail rides you may want a lighter weight heavily ventilated helmet. For western riding, there are western-style helmets and Resistol makes a helmet that looks like a cowboy hat. For cross-country jumping, you may want a more protective helmet with good ventilation.
  3. Recreational riding or also showing? Schooling helmets and show helmets are different. Schooling helmets tend to be more ventilated and colorful, while show helmets are more traditional colors like black, sometimes velvet, suede, smooth leather or carbon. If you will be competing you will want both a show and schooling helmet.
  4. Helmet fit. Aside from the shape of the helmet. You want to find a helmet that fits your head correctly. I will explain how to make sure the helmet fits further down the guide.
  5. The Price. How much are you comfortable spending? You are going to wear your helmet for a long time, 3-5 years unless it needs to be replaced sooner because of a fall. So it may be worth spending a little bit more to get the helmet you actually like.
  6. The looks. The last thing to look for is the look of the helmet. You’ve narrowed down your choices now you can choose which helmet you think looks the best.

My Recommendation For Riding Helmets

Troxel, Tipperary and Charles Owen Are My Favorite Helmet Brands!

  • Recreational and Schooling Rides- I recommend 2 helmets. The first is the Fallon Taylor Troxel Helmet (look at on Amazon) because it is light and airy, the price isn’t too expensive and the designs and colors are super cute. It has a dial you can use to tighten up the helmet. This is the helmet I currently use. It does run on the smaller side. It is best to go one size up than what the chart says. The second helmet is the Tipperary Sportage Helmet (look at on Amazon). I like that the back of this helmet comes down more offering more protection and it has a really comfy fit, as well as great ventilation and is super lightweight.
  • Show- For a show, I like my Charles Owen Gr8 (look at on Amazon) which is a classy looking helmet, it is suede, has a great fit and is comfortable.
  • Cross Country Helmet– I have 2 recommendations. I recommend the Tipperary Sportage Helmet also for Cross Country because of the back of the helmet protecting more area and because of the amazing ventilation and lightness. You can get pretty sweaty out cross country and this is a great helmet. The second recommendation is The Charles Owen Pro II Plus Helmet (Look at on Amazon), it has high safety standards, is a skull cap so you can wear a cross country cap and it has great ventilation. I have not used one of these. This is based on people I know that use them. They find them well-fitting and comfortable as well. When I start going cross country again I want this helmet.

Safety Standards For Horse Riding Helmets

These safety standards for helmets are met through testing that simulates riding accidents such as falls, kicks and some standards include getting crushed. To pass the helmet must be able to withstand the testing. Each safety standard is given numbers by the organization that created it.

In the United States, ASTM F1163-15/ SEI is the popular standard for riding helmets. Check out this article on EQUUS Riding Helmet Safety Standards Explained for more information about the testing for this standard.

European standards VG1, PAS 015, EN 1384:2017 is similar to the ASTM/SEI but considered slightly higher standards as they add penetration and crushing to the test.

The best standard to go by is SNELL E2001. It does what the other standards do but also more. Highest crush resistance rating, higher fall for impact test, and visor check for riders field of vision. Though keep in mind there are only 4 helmets with this rating and they are expensive.

Measuring For Helmet Size

  1. Get measuring tap, a pen and paper to write down the measurement.
  2. Wrap the measuring tap around your head, so that it goes around the widest part of your head. just above your eyebrows, over your ears and over the bump in the back of your head.
  3. Compare your measurement to the manufacturers size chart of the helmet you are interested in.
  4. Now you know what helmet size to try.

Knowing The Helmet Fits

To make sure you find a helmet with a good fit I suggest you go to a local tack shop. This way you can try on the helmet and know the helmet fits before you buy it and then buy it cheaper online.

The helmet fit is important. If the helmet doesn’t fit right then you won’t get proper protection.

Follow these steps to make sure the helmet fits properly.

  1. Put the helmet on in the size you measured for.
  2. The helmet should feel like equal pressure all the way around which allows the helmet to absorb the shock in an event of an accident.
  3. If the helmet feels like it was to rise upward it is too small.
  4. If the helmet is sitting low and loose on your eyebrows it is too big.
  5. You should be able to move your head up and downside to side and the helmet won’t move out of place.
  6. Then holding the brim of the helmet move it up and down. If it slides it is too big. You want your eyebrows to move up and down when you do this for the proper fit.
  7. Make sure the brim is sitting no lower than 1/2″ above your eyebrows so that your vision is not blocked.
  8. Adjust the chin strap so it fits snuggly under your chin to help keep the helmet in place.
  9. Adjust the ear straps for comfort if there are any.
  10. If the fit is close, only slightly too big and you are trying on an adjustable helmet, through the use of the dials, changeable padding or ties, you can tighten them. Then make sure to repeat these tests. Otherwise, you will want to try another size, style or brand of helmet.

Tip: If you plan to wear your hair up in the helmet. Make sure you do this when fitting the helmet. You will want a hair net or two if you have long thick hair. Put hair in a ponytail and make sure your hair lies as flat as possible under the helmet.

Note: The helmet fit may change if your hair length changes.

When Should You Replace Your Helmet?

You should replace your helmet after a fall where you hit your head.

You should also replace your helmet at least every 5 years, but on average 3-5 years, because the foam that absorbs the shock and protects you degrades over time from use, sweat, and body heat.

8 Helmet Care Tips

  • Tip #1: Use light soapy water to clean your helmet thoroughly don’t, throw your helmet in dishwasher or washing machine which can damage the foam in your helmet.
  • Tip #2: If the helmet has a liner, you can wash that in your washer but make sure you let it air dry so that it doesn’t shrink.
  • Tip #3: Use a helmet bag. This will help protect your helmet in the event of a fall, from getting scratched and from getting dusty and dirty.
  • Tip #4: Air out your helmet when sweaty before putting in your helmet bag.
  • Tip #5: Don’t keep your helmet in places that are too hot like your car in the summer which can degrade the foam and cause it to no longer be safe to use.
  • Tip #6: Make sure you keep your receipts, product and warranty info that comes with the helmet. Some manufacturers provide a discount for helmet replacements in a crash based on the age of helmet and time of the accident.
  • Tip #7: Avoid sprays like fly spray getting on your helmet as it has been proven detrimental to the integrity of the helmet.
  • Tip #8: If your helmet is stinky consider using a helmet deodorizer like the Charles Owen Helmet Deodorizer (Look at on Amazon). Using household cleaning products could result in the helmet material degrading faster. So it is best to use a helmet deodorizer or look at the manufacturer’s warranty about what products can be used on the helmet safely.