Want to ride a horse? Put on a helmet, first! Wearing a properly fitted helmet while you ride is one of the most important safety measures you can take while in the saddle. However, properly choosing and fitting a helmet is not always as easy as it looks. While we do have school helmets available for those who do not have their own, we highly encourage all of our riders to purchase their own helmets. Here is a quick guide to Helmets 101.
Finding & Purchasing a Helmet
- Your helmet must be ASTM/SEI certified for equine activities. A bike helmet doesn’t cut it – a horse is a lot farther from the ground and moves a lot faster than a bike! Don’t stress, though – just look at the description or tag. Most helmets sold in tack shops and online tack stores should meet those international standards unless otherwise specified.
- Don’t buy the first helmet you see. Try on several first! Helmet brands are not all the same shape and some may fit your head better than others. Your helmet should be comfortable to wear, not a pain. Our lovely local tack shops, Collierville Saddlery and Saddles N’ Such have a wide variety of brands to try.
- When trying on helmets, make sure to wear your helmet as you’ll wear it while you’re riding (with a hairnet, if you use them) – nothing is worse than fitting a helmet with your hair down and discovering it’s too tight with your hair up! If your helmet doesn’t fit properly, it may come off when you need it the most. Also consider air flow. A helmet without vents may look gorgeous and fit well but be too hot in the Memphis heat.
- All helmets that are ASTM/SEI certified must adhere to the same minimum safety standards, regardless of price. The helmet that fits you the best in your price range is the one to go with! Helmets range from $45-$400+; some brands that have good starter helmets under $100 are Ovation, Tipperary, IRH, and Troxel.
- When purchasing a helmet, remember that federal and manufacturing guidelines suggest replacing a helmet every 3-5 years to ensure that it can still provide the maximum amount of protection for your noggin. In addition, if you have a fall where you hit your head on the ground, the helmet’s protection may be compromised, and it’s a good idea to replace it. Some manufacturer’s offer a replacement program where you get a free or reduced price new helmet if you return your broken or fallen in helmet – they can use the old ones to study how well they held up in a fall and how they can make future helmets better.
Getting a Proper Fit
Your helmet is properly fitting if:
- It rests 1 to 2 finger widths above your eyebrows.
- It does not rock or move around on your head without the chinstrap buckled; you should be able to turn your head upside down without the chinstrap buckled and have the helmet stay on your head.
- If you yawn with the chinstrap buckled, it pulls the helmet further down on your head.
- If your helmet moves on your head when the chinstrap is buckled or falls back over your forehead, it is too loose and will not protect your head adequately in a fall.