Wearing a helmet is an important safety precaution for horse riding because the purpose of a helmet is to protect your head in the case of an accident. Head trauma is a leading cause of fatality in horseback riding accidents. Wearing a horse riding helmet, one that fits you properly, significantly decreases your chances of a head injury.
Additionally, although a comfortable helmet won’t necessarily aid your riding, a poorly fitted one can negatively impact your performance. If the helmet is too tight, it may be uncomfortable and distracting. A helmet that is too loose could obscure your vision if the brim slips in front of your eyes. So it’s important both for safety and performance to have a well-fitted helmet.
Finding the right fit takes some work. It’s important to measure your head for a helmet, though that’s just the starting point for the process. The measurement is a guideline. Especially if this is your first equestrian helmet, it’s equally important to try several helmets with different shapes to determine what fits your head shape best and what feels the most comfortable.
Follow these steps to measure your head and get the best riding helmet that fits your head.
1. Measure Your Head
Using a soft fabric measuring tape, take your head measurement at the widest part, approximately one inch above your eyebrows. Be sure the tape is fitted snugly to your head and goes over the curve of your head just above your ears in the back. Note the size in inches and centimeters as manufacturers may use either measure. It may be best to have a friend help you with this process to ensure you get the right measurement.
2. Try on a Helmet
Place a helmet that you’re considering on your head, making sure it’s flat and lying horizontally on your head. The helmet should have a snug-but-comfortable fit and should sit within the width of one or two fingers above your brow. Make sure to style your hair as you will when you’re riding — though we recommend keeping it flat under the helmet. For helmets with built-in pads to make the fit tighter or looser or an adjustable system to automatically modify the fit, be sure to remove the pads or adjust the fit to the largest setting before trying on the helmet. Once you determine the fit of the helmet, you can add these modifications to improve the fit.
3. Evaluate the Fit
A well-fitted riding helmet covers your entire skull with no gaps anywhere between the helmet and your head. Having even pressure around the entire helmet enables it to absorb the shock of an accident. A helmet that sits low on your eyebrows is too big. If it doesn’t sit right or shows gaps, then it is too small.
As you evaluate the fit, also consider the helmet shape. Helmets come in many shapes and sizes, and not all are suitable for every head. If your head is more rounded than the helmet you’re trying, you may find the helmet rocks front-to-back. If the reverse is true and a helmet is more rounded than your head, you may find the helmet rocks side-to-side.
A helmet that fits well should feel comfortable, but not loose, in any area of your head. The helmet should not slide freely. A good rule of thumb is: if you move your eyebrows, the skin on your forehead should move with the helmet.
4. Buckle the Chin Strap
Once you find a helmet that appears to fit well, buckle the chin strap and adjust it so it fits snugly under your chin. This strap should hold the helmet in place without discomfort. Check that the helmet is still sitting properly on your head after being buckled. The front brim should be 1 to 2 fingers’ width above your eyebrows so it does not obscure your vision.
Riding Helmet Size Chart
There is no standardized riding helmet size chart. Helmets may fit you differently from different manufacturers, as the sizing can be different. The shape of the helmets may also be different. Some will fit perfectly for you while others won’t fit well based on the shape of your head. You may even find variances within product lines from the same manufacturer. Compare your head measurement with the size chart for each manufacturer to get a starting point for trying on helmets, and allow that to guide which helmets you try on.
Consider these helpful tips when looking for a helmet.
Use a helmet designed for horseback riding, rather than one designed for biking or other types of sports.
Manufacturers use different measurements for helmet sizing. Some use centimeters and others use inches to measure helmet size. Bring your head measurement in both inches and centimeters when you go to make your helmet purchase.
Other manufacturers use hat sizes or standardized sizing in extra small, small, medium, and large. They may offer guidance based on your head measurement as to which size is appropriate for you.
Sizes vary between manufacturers. We recommend trying on helmets to see how each manufacturer’s shape and sizing will work for you.
Once you determine a manufacturer’s fit, you can generally purchase a new helmet with them without trying them on again, however, it’s still a good idea to check the fit.
The Importance of a Helmet Designed for Horse Riding
Different types of helmets have different standards. Horse-riding helmets are designed and tested for performance in horseback-riding related accidents. Horse-riding safety helmets are also subject to different specifications and standards. Equestrian helmets offer additional protection in both the sweatband area of the helmet and the back of the head. They are also tested for impact absorption, chinstrap retention, and penetration by a sharp object.
Finding a well-fitted helmet is important, both for safety and for performance. Start with taking the measurement of your head, then try helmets on, adjusting the fit, to see what works best for the shape of your head. The right helmet will be comfortable and give you confidence that you’ll be protected in the case of an accident.
It’s no secret that we love Ariat here at The Farm House. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about the Ariat Ascent line, along with some great options to consider for your own riding wardrobe.