Get the facts - helmets save lives! 60% or more of horse-related deaths are caused by head injuries. Helmets reduce this possibility by 70-80%. But, picking the correct one is important, a bicycle helmet won't protect you. Helmets that aren't ASTM/SEI approved offer no protection ("Rider Helmet Safety"). How do you determine if a helmet is safe? Check for the seal! ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) creates standards for safety, while SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) tests for compliance. An ASTM/SEI certified helmet will have the SEI seal and date of manufacture inside the helmet ("Helmet Certifications").
When shopping for a helmet, there are a few things to keep in mind. Will you be showing in this helmet? If so, come prepared with a hair net to comply with competition rules. How do you usually wear your hair? What is your budget? When thinking about pricing, remember as long as the helmets have the SEI seal, they have the same safety standards. Just like cars, you can pay for upgrades, like more ventilation (Preble). You can check SEI's website for the full list of tested helmets.
Once you're ready to try one on, place the front of the helmet on your forehead and then bring it back until on your head. A properly fitted helmet should be snug, but not pinching, and should not move if you shake your head. It should fit snugly without the strap. Wear the helmet around the store to make sure it's comfortable. Check in the mirror, your eyebrows should be one inch below the helmet's brim. When you place the strap, you should be able to fit two fingers comfortably (Preble).
Now that you have your helmet, make sure to keep it clean and safe. Don't submerge your helmet to clean it or put it in a dishwasher. Store it in a helmet bag and use lightly soapy water to clean it. (Preble).
Above all, a helmet is good for only one fall - it must be replaced after dropped or hit. Some good news, many helmet manufactures have accident replacement warranties. Check your helmet's manufacturer for more information on their specific policy and make sure to keep your receipt.
Already have a helmet? Remember, helmets should be inspected and/or replaced after five years. If it is time to purchase or replace your helmet, there are many places to shop. Farm and Fleet has standard helmets at a fair price point. For a larger selection and more features, a tack shop is recommended. We can help you with tips and recommendations on where to shop.
Helmet Certifications, Troxel Helmets, www.troxelhelmets.com/helmet-certifications.
Preble, Julie. “Helmets 101.” Horse&Rider, Horse&Rider, 7 June 2016, horseandrider.com/gear/helmets-101.
“Riding Helmet Safety.” Animal Science, University of Connecticut, animalscience.uconn.edu/equine/helmet-safety.php.