Helmet fit

Helmet fit

I get the feeling that this is not a popular opinion: Helmets should be worn, every time, every ride, and on every horse.

It has nothing to do with how well behaved your horse is or how skilled of a rider you are. I have had horses save my life... and those same horses get into a bad situation that was completely unforeseeable and no fault of their own that has lead to my helmet saving me.

The thing is, if you don't have a proper helmet, specifically for horseback riding that fits well, you might be better off without it (so... that would mean skipping the ride 😞).

If you are new to helmets or new to horses (or both!), this is for you 😉

When shopping for a helmet, make sure your helmet is ASTM and SEI certified. This is how we know that your helmet has been tested for equestrian use. Plus, ASTM/SEI certified helmets are required to compete when helmets are required.

The fit of the helmet is critical... and where most people go wrong. First, if you are buying online, you are going to need to measure your head to get an idea of what size you will need. Also, be prepared to try the helmet on when it arrives and return it if it doesn't pass the shake test (shown in the video above).

When measuring your head, use a flexible measuring tape. Wrap it around your forehead about one inch above your eyebrows. Make sure the tape stays flat and even around your head as best you can. Your measurement in YOu will want to get the measurement in centimeters (that's the hat size 😉). Check out the individual manufacturer’s websites for a size chart.

When you try on a helmet, wear your hair the way you will when you are riding. Helmets are not made to accommodate a ponytail or messy bun. For the helmet to best serve you, you should avoid any hair ties or pins underneath it.

Some helmet styles will have a built in fitting system- something that will dial in the size to ensure that your helmet is snug. I suggest expanding this system to its largest setting and making sure that the chin strap is let out as well. Once you have the helmet on your head, tighten both the chin strap and the fitting system. If the helmet you're trying has extra padding instead of a fitting system, start without the extra pads and add as needed.

The brim of the helmet should be about an inch above your eyebrows and you should feel even pressure around your head. The chin strap should not be loose at all. It should be comfortable, but not drooping down either. Your helmet should be snug enough to remain on your head through the shake test (see the video above). If you find that you are getting a headache, your helmet is too small- adjust the fitting system/ pads, try a size up, or even a different model.

Remember- helmets aren't just for inexperienced riders (Olympians wear them!)- they are there for the unpredictable moments when your horse doesn't necessarily mean harm, but accidents happen.

Want more tips from me and other experienced horse people? Check out the free group Happy Horse, Happy Life.