Mind Your Head: Why Helmets are so Important

A riding helmet isn’t just for show. It can also mean the difference between surviving an accident or suffering terribly. A helmet provides valuable protection from injury whether you’re in or out of the saddle. Even the most experienced riders wear helmets at all times, simply because of what might happen if they didn’t–not just if they fell from the horse, but if a nearby horse gets spooked or does something similarly unpredictable.

According to the Brain Injury Resource Center, approximately 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur in the United States every year. A TBI is classified as any disruption of normal brain function as a result of a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or from a penetrating head injury. Concussion or coma could result, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds that “of all types of injury, those to the brain are among the most likely to result in death or permanent disability.”

Riding helmets must be tested by the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) for chinstrap retention, penetration by a sharp object, and for impact absorption, and approved the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which sets testing and safety requirements for all types of helmets, including equestrian helmets. If you plan on competing in other countries, your helmet must be certified by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).


Helmet Sizing for ASTM Helmets

Properly fitting protective headgear is important to rider safety. Carefully measure head at widest part.

Helmet Size 6⅜ 6⅝ 6⅞ 7 7⅛ 7⅜ 7⅞
Head Size 19" 19½" 20" 20½" 21" 21½" 22" 22½" 23" 23½" 24" 24½" 25"

Important Helmet Warning — The headgear displayed on these pages is designed for equestrian use only. The manufacturer claims that the design meets the current ASTM standards and is SEI certified. No warranty is made by TABcom, LLC or any of its employees that this claim is accurate nor do we make any representation or warranty as to the adequacy of reliability of such standards. Equestrian helmets affording more protection may be capable of being designed and/or may be presently available and helmets or headgear designed for purposes other than equestrian use may provide greater protection to the head than equestrian helmets do.


A helmet protects your skull, which protects your brain. In addition to providing a barrier, it helps your head slow down more gradually from impact, spreads the impact from a blow over a larger area, and prevents direct impact. Foam or similar material inside adds cushioning, while vents provide more protection by distributing air flow.

Your helmet should be just that: yours. Don’t borrow a friend’s or use a bike helmet if a riding helmet isn’t handy. It should fit your head just right, with the straps adjusted every time you put it on. Don’t buy a used helmet, as you will have no way of knowing how many knocks it’s taken over the years. At the same time, if you should experience a fall, replace your helmet immediately, as it may have sustained damage invisible to the naked eye. Most manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet, even those with no known damage, every five years.

Price doesn’t always dictate the quality; as long as a helmet has been certified as safe, you should be more concerned about fit. For the fashion-conscious, today’s helmets offer style as well as safety. Different riding disciplines may also dictate the type of helmet you wear. Just watch out for helmets labeled “for apparel or dress only.” When you purchase from State Line Tack, you can be assured that your helmet has been tested and approved.

  • Published:
  • Updated: 5/4/2018: 11:13:28 AM ET