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It can be argued that no other piece of riding equipment is as important as a riding helmet; helmets save lives. Statistics show that riding helmets are 80% effective in preventing injury and death. Never take any unnecessary chances and ride without one. Head injuries from horseback riding can happen at anytime and anywhere. No matter if you are professional or an amateur rider, you risk you life by riding without proper head protection. All it takes is one fall for you to realize the importance of horse riding helmets.
Horse riding helmets are sold in styles for the many different equestrian disciplines such as Western, English, and jumping among the many others. Sport helmets are appropriate for schooling and hacking. Dress helmets are required for showing, however inexpensive velvet covers can effortlessly convert those relaxed sport caps for the show ring.
Grabbing any riding helmet is not the best way to choose protection against dangerous, and potentially fatal, head injuries. Your helmet must be ASTM/SEI certified, meaning it passed rigorous guidelines for the protection of human skulls. Most ASTM-SEI certified horse riding helmets are manufactured multiple layers of air bubbles that are supposed to help reduce the force and damage on impact of a fall. Non-certified helmets do not this level of satisfactory protection.
It is very important your horse riding helmet fits correctly. An improperly fitting helmet may not provide the necessary protection needed to keep you safe. Here are a few guidelines to make sure your horse riding helmet fits properly:
- Measure the size of your head starting one inch above your eyebrows. Always round the measurement to the nearest half-inch.
- The helmet should not fall down to the top of your head completely; properly fitting helmets cover the entire head including the back portion. Also the helmet should fit firmly and not shake. Your riding helmet shouldn't shift forward or backward when touched.
- Try moving your helmet from side to side. It is supposed to fit snugly all around your head. If you find there is room between your head and the helmet, go down to a smaller size. If your head feels cramped or squeezed inside the helmet to the point it is uncomfortable, try on a larger size.
- Adjust your helmet's chin strap so that it’s firm but comfortably. Most riders prefer the strap fitting snugly under their chin.
- Test the helmet's brim. It is supposed to be about one and a half inches above your eyebrows. If it is any higher than that, the helmet will not provide full protection.
Always follow the manufacturer instructions. Different brands have their fitment quirks too, so try to keep that in mind when searching for a new helmet.
It is important to remember that safety standards are constantly changing and improving. So even if your helmet meets ASTM/SEI standards, it can still be obsolete. Experts recommended replacing your helmet every four to five years even if it has never been damaged from a fall or other accident.