Riding Helmet Do’s & Don’ts!
A riding safety helmet only works if it fits and you wear it correctly. Here’s the info on safety helmets, from choosing a helmet to avoiding common helmet mistakes.
It’s a beautiful day for a ride. You tack up, pull on your boots, and head out of the barn. The thought of a head injury doesn’t even cross your mind – but it should. If you are riding without a safety helmet, you’re taking a chance that may cost you your life.
Why wear a safety helmet?
It’s simple. If you fall from your horse, the helmet takes the force of the blow – instead of your head. When you’re riding, wearing a safety helmet is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury.
Selecting a safety helmet
Horseback Riding helmets are cooler, lighter, and more comfortable than ever before. There are plenty of choices for riders of all ages and abilities. Just remember some ground rules:
- Make sure the helmet is safe and “approved”. Look for a seal of approval from the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) or combination approval from ASTM/SEI.
- Make sure it fits properly. It is important to be correctly measured and fitted for a riding helmet. Not every helmet fits every rider, and there are sizing differences between brands. The helmet should feel comfortably snug. Sizing pads are included with most helmets and can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port. You don’t want to try to fit all of your hair up inside the helmet. That would make the helmet too big to properly protect you in case of a fall.
Wearing a Riding helmet
“A helmet can’t protect what it doesn’t cover!” The rules for wearing a safety helmet are the same for everyone. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. The helmet should sit right above your eyebrows, covering your forehead. There should be no tiliting forward or backward, or side to side.
The chin strap needs to be fastened, just below your chin. Just like your horse’s noseband, you should be able to fit a finger or two between the strap and below your chin. More than that, and it is too loose. Less than that, and it is too tight and will be uncomfortable.
Avoid common helmet mistakes
If the helmet is tilted forward, the back of your head is vulnerable to the force of a fall or kick from a hoof. A helmet that tips backward is just as problematic. When this happens, the front and side of your head are vulnerable to the force of a fall.
Other factors to consider:
Teach yourself and your kids to carefully store a helmet when done riding. Helmets should not be dropped or kicked. Also, do not keep your helmet in a hot trunk on a summer day! If you’re in a riding accident, do not continue to use that helmet. Replace it with a new one. Even if the helmet looks undamaged, it may not be able to withstand the force of another blow.
Most helmet manufacturers have a replacement policy. This replacement information usually can be found on the tags of your new helmet, or on the box it came in. Return the damaged helmet to the manufacturer, and get a new one! Manufacturers can then collect data about riding accidents and how the helmets are reacting to falls. This information can help make future helmets even safer!
We do not recommend wearing a used helmet. You may not know if the helmet has been in a fall, and it may not be safe. Many times, you cannot see damage just by looking at a helmet. Visible damage usually only happens with a serious trauma, like a direct kick or a hard fall on a rock, etc. Many times, only x-ray technology will be able to determine where damage is on a safety riding helmet.
Don’t skimp on safety!
There are many inexpensive helmets that would be a safer alternative, and can be fitted to you!
Play it safe
Let’s say that you haven’t fallen off in about 6 years. Your helmet is perfectly fine, right? No. Even with proper care, the average lifespan of a safety helmet is about 4 years before the lining materials begin to deteriorate. Also, in that time, manufacturers may have improved fit and comfort of their helmets!
Now that you know the helmet basics, put them to good use. Wear your helmet every time you ride!