5 Safest Riding Helmets

While horseback riding is exhilarating, it’s also considered a dangerous sport due to the high risk of injury. But there are ways to make equestrian sports safer, and safety starts with a good horseback riding helmet

There is no more critical safety precaution than wearing a helmet while horseback riding. Head trauma is a leading cause of injury and fatality in horseback riding accidents, but a well-fitted, quality helmet significantly decreases your risk of a head injury. In this post, we’ll help you choose from the safest horse-riding helmets available.

How to Find the Right Helmet

Helmets are not one-size-fits-all, so it’s essential to know how to fit your head properly for a riding helmet. You’ll start by measuring the widest part of your head about an inch above your eyebrows. Then, you’ll compare that measurement to the helmet size charts of the helmets you’re considering.

Each brand, and even each helmet, may be slightly different when it comes to sizing. Some helmets are more rounded, and others are more oval-shaped, so you’ll want to look at a few different options to ensure the one you choose is comfortable and fits properly.

Learn more: How to Measure Your Head for a Horse Riding Helmet | How to Choose and Buy a Riding Helmet

Evolving Safety Technology

Equestrian helmets contain a number of safety features. They are made with an outer helmet casing designed to absorb the impact of a fall and protect the head from any sharp objects. Other key components include internal foam padding and a polystyrene or styrofoam liner. The helmet will also have an internal fabric lining that holds the safety features together. 

Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a technology currently being introduced to equestrian helmets. Though it’s not widely used yet, it’s something to keep an eye on. Designed by a neurosurgeon, MIPS aims to reduce the risk of brain injuries by protecting the brain against rotational motion from angled impacts to the head. This technology is new, and all of the helmets we offer meetAmerican Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)safety requirements. However, MIPS is an additional level of safety that will likely become standard in the future. 

Safety Standards

While some standards look closely at preventing the most severe types of head injuries a rider may experience, others protect from the more commonplace. No one standard can accurately predict the specific type of accident or fall a rider may experience as there are too many variables to take into account.

Consider the surface you are riding on, is it footing, grass, gravel, or perhaps pavement/concrete. Will the rider be kicked or stepped on during the fall? Is the horse wearing heel studs/caulks? Did the horse fall on the rider and create a crushing-type injury? 

When determining helmet safety and assessing if a helmet will pass, each of the individual standards have their own criteria and tests that place more or less emphasis on different helmets and various types of injuries.

A helmet that meets multiple standards has been proven to provide the most comprehensive protection and cover a wider range of potential accident scenarios than helmets tested by fewer testing standards.

Safety testing is conducted to ensure that helmets meet one or more international equestrian safety standards.

For example, they will examine how much of the head a helmet covers, how a rider falls and onto what type of surface, how a helmet moves, and how severe of injury riders can expect to receive from that fall.

The number of times a batch of riding helmets is tested varies between the different certifications.

Horse Riding Helmet Safety Certifications

There are several organizations that provide safety certifications for riding helmets. Below are some of the certifications you’ll find.

  • BSI Kitemark- British Safety InstituteThe BSI Kitemark (PAS015 and VG1) checks one of every 200 helmets from a batch of 800 to 3,200 helmets before they will issue an approval label. If the helmets do not pass the standard, thenthe entire batch must be destroyed.
  • CE Mark: All hats sold in Europe must be CE marked, a helmet marked as CE simply means that it complies with the European Directive 89/686/EEC for Personal Protective Equipment. It should not be confused with a safety standard or testing. 
  • ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials: (Now known as the International Society for Testing and Materials) ASTM works with the SEI for product testing.
  • SEI - Safety Equipment institute: An Affiliate of ASTM, the SEI and its partnerships with third-party laboratories, companies can certify that products and employees meet specifications and standards, including but not limited to ASTM International standards.
  • Snell Foundation: The Snell foundation was established upon the death of race car driver Pete Snell, when his racing helmet failed to protect his head after a crash. The Snell Memorial Foundation AKA Snell Foundationhas been a leader in helmet safety both in the United States and around the world. For over 60 years, the Snell Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has been dedicated exclusively to head protection through scientific and medical research, standards development, helmet testing, and public education. Current Snell Equestrian Certifications.

Our Recommendations for Safest Horse-Riding Helmets

Safety is a core requirement of horse-riding helmets, though not all helmets are created equal. Equestrian helmets are different from those used for bike-riding and other activities, as they are made to withstand a fall from a higher distance. Don’t make the mistake of using a helmet designed for another activity. Your horse-riding helmet must be made specifically to protect against the risks of riding horses. With that in mind, here are some of the safest horse-riding helmets that we recommend.

1. Charles Owen Halo Luxe Helmet With MIPS ($540)

Charles Owen Halo Luxe Helmet With MIPS

This helmet doesn’t just look great, you can ride with confidence knowing it meets three international safety standards and it features MIPS technology. The Charles Owen Halo has a lattice harness that is designed to provide a snug and secure fit. We love the comfort, protection and flattering wide brim on this helmet. This is the perfect example of innovative technology and design to create a stunning helmet packed with safety features.

2. KEP Cromo Matt Polo Peak Helmet With Beige Harness ($539)

KEP Cromo Matt Polo Peak Helmet With Beige Harness

When it comes to safety the KEP Cromo Polo Peak helmet does not disappoint. Tested to all 5 International Safety Standards you can ride confidently knowing your head has some of the best protection on the market. Plus, all that safety is wrapped in a stylish shell. We love the look of the KEP Cromo and the fashionable wide brim provides superior sun protection. This lightweight low-profile helmet is packed with features including the KEP air control system for optimal ventilation.

3. Custom Samshield Shadowmatt Helmet ($575)

Custom Samshield Shadowmatt Helmet

Samshield is a brand created by a motocross veteran. He was disappointed in the safety failings of an equestrian helmet he purchased and decided to start a company to do better. Samshield helmets are known for their high safety standards and their beautiful, customizable design. This custom Shadowmatt helmet offers the best of technology and attractiveness with a personal flair. The polycarbonate outer shell is crafted for protection, and the polystyrene inner shell has variable density that disperses impact energy for improved safety. The removable memory foam liner offers easy-to-maintain comfort, while the hidden front air inlet and two rear outlets keep riders cool by channeling air throughout the helmet. 

Samshield also designed helmets specifically for the safety needs of cross-country riding and show jumpers. They are a great idea to consider if you are in these English-riding disciplines.

4. KASK Dogma Hunter Helmet ($549)

KASK Dogma Hunter Helmet

KASK may have gotten its start with cycling helmets, but they make some wonderful equestrian helmets as well that are known for their safety and comfort. The Dogma Hunter is part of the new KASK equestrian division of exceptional helmets. This everyday-riding helmet has a molded outer shell made with polycarbonate ABS. The inner shell has expanded polystyrene with three levels of density for total shock protection, as well as comfort and lightness. This Dogma Hunter helmet also has a smart ventilation system that provides high-volume airflow, along with a Merino wool inner lining for breathability. A stylish and elegant design compliments all of these features.

5. One K MIPS CCS Helmet ($335)

One K MIPS CCS Helmet

One K designs helmets to provide the perfect synergy between design and advanced technology. This helmet also has MIPS technology for added safety, and it’s made with an advanced ABS polycarbonate shell. Additional features include a washable and moisture-wicking antimicrobial liner; a comfort padded harness; and two front, two center, and one back strip vents. This MIPS riding helmet with advanced safety technology is offered at a great price!

One of the most important safety measures for riding a horse is investing in a quality helmet. These riding helmets are among the best when it comes to quality and advanced safety features, and they don’t neglect style, either. With their balance of safety, comfort, and design, you’re sure to find a helmet that you love!

Explore our full collection of helmets, which are tested by staff for performance. If you have questions about any of our products, give us a call at 864-457-3557. We’re happy to help!


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