Do you remember the last time you took a tumble from your horse? Well, I bet you were very pleased you were wearing some head protection! Your riding helmet certainly helped prevent some bad bumps and bruises and reduced the risk of even more serious injury. Accidents are just waiting to happen: something we all tend to forget. After all, horse riding is all about relaxation, fun and the close relationship with your four-legged best friend. But occasionally it’s a good idea to devote the same amount of attention to your riding helmet.
In the past not everyone saw the necessity of wearing a riding helmet. Luckily today we all know why wearing a helmet is so important. Horses are always prone to flight behaviour and no matter how close the instinctive bond is between you and your horse; everyone can take a fall now and then. And let's be honest, another side benefit of a helmet is the protection it offers from those pesky low hanging branches during a ride in the woods.
Spoilt for choice
There is a huge and ever-expanding range of riding helmets to choose from. Say goodbye to old-fashioned riding hats with elasticated bands under the chin! Welcome style and safety. Today you can choose from helmets in a diversity of styles. From traditional classic looks to full-on style with glitter and artificial diamonds. Wearability and comfort are also increasingly important: soft, padded linings and moisture wicking chin guards, ventilation panels and apertures that can be opened and closed and adjustable mechanisms that ensure a perfect fit.
The wide range of helmet designs and styles all have one thing in common: they must comply with the applicable safety standards. Before a helmet can be marketed, it is subjected to a stringent testing procedure. Testing is done to measure aspects including the strength of straps and closures, resistance, stability and shock absorption. The CE mark on the inside of the helmet indicates that it has passed the safety test. If you are planning to buy a new helmet, it is best to check which safety standard is currently in force. What if your current helmet does not comply with the latest standard? There's no need to panic, your helmet has already been tested and approved for use based on the previously applicable standard. The protection offered by your helmet will be reduced if it is dropped or exposed to sunlight for too long. The quality of the material used in the helmet can weaken if it becomes too hot.
Check, check, double check
On average, a riding helmet should be replaced after about five years. If the helmet has been dropped or experienced serious impact in the meantime, have it inspected by an expert. In some instances, the helmet may have absorbed more impact and sustained more damage than it appears. In that case, it's best to buy a new one as soon as possible. You can extend the life of your helmet by treating it with care, transporting it in a helmet bag and storing it in a cool, dark, dry place. Another very important thing to remember: never lend your helmet to another rider. The helmet has moulded to the shape of your head and for the best protection, you want to keep it that way.
A wash does wonders
It might seem like a good idea to wash your helmet in the washing machine, but helmets were not made to withstand this sort of treatment. Hot water is not good for the materials used to make the helmet and rotation in a washing machine will knock the helmet. You can wash removable linings in the washing machine.
Many manufacturers have their own recommendations on cleaning your helmet. Take a look at these first. Maybe the manufacturer sells a suitable cleaning agent. There are various cleaning agents for helmets on the market, so you are sure to find one suitable. If not, clean the helmet using a damp cloth and some mild soap. Then allow the helmet to dry well.
Ready for a safe summer
Properly cared for, safe riding gear ensures you are ready for the summer and can enjoy all the fun riding activities with your four-legged friend to the full. A well-fitting helmet that you treat with care is the finishing detail.We also advise against wearing clothing that is too loose and don't wear large jewellery that can get caught. Safety starts with you; if you choose the right gear and listen attentively to your horse's body language, you can rest assured that you will be well protected should any accidents happen.
Shopping for a helmet: Tips for the perfect helmet!
Faced with such an unlimited choice, with such competing models, we fully understand that selecting the perfect helmet is a difficult task. Maybe these tips will make choosing the ideal head protection a little easier.
1. Good preparation is half the battle: you can already start by measuring your head at home to establish the correct size. Measure the circumference of your head about 2.5 centimetres above your eyebrow ridges. This is where the edge of your helmet will sit.
2. Before you try on a helmet, we advise styling your hair as you do when riding.
3. Choose a helmet in your size that suits your style! Many helmets have a dial that can be turned to create a snug fit. Make sure this dial is in the loosest position before you try on the helmet. The purpose of the dial is to make minor corrections and not to compensate for centimetres of extra space. Get the basics right first.
4. Are you happy with your choice of helmet? Shake your head a couple of times to see if the helmet stays securely in place. Now tighten the chin strap and shake your head again. The helmet should not rock backwards, forwards or sideways.
5. Does the helmet feel comfortable, fit snugly without feeling too tight and does the design complement your own personal style? Congratulations: you've found the perfect helmet!