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Which equestrian sport helmet is best?

Which equestrian sport helmet is best?

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that of all sports, equestrians suffered the highest rate of traumatic brain injury among any other type of recreation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that of all sports, equestrians suffered the highest rate of traumatic brain injury among any other type of recreation.

Equestrian helmets

Horseback riding is one of the most popular summer pastimes. Whether you’re riding on a trail, schooling in the ring or performing dressage, it’s crucial to protect yourself with an equestrian helmet. A helmet needs to fit well, be comfortable to wear, look good and provide protection. There are a wide variety of helmets designed specifically for horseback activities, accommodating a range of prices and horseback activities. 

How to choose the best equestrian helmet

As with most horse safety equipment, the specified terminology and array of options could be overwhelming for riders. Depending on your size, the type of riding you’ll do and your level of proficiency, there are many factors to consider when looking for the right helmet. 

Type of riding

Horseback riding includes a range of activities. Common horseback riding events, including racing cross country, working with cows, performing dressage, showjumping and pacing, have different obstacles, which could lead to a variety of injuries. Because of that, each event requires a slightly different helmet. 

Regardless of the discipline, your helmet should be certified safe. In the U.S., look for an “ASTM/SEI” marking as an indication that your helmet has met minimum safety standards. International safety standards might include the following marks: VG1, PAS 015, EN 1384:2017. 

Individual discipline requirements

Some equestrian disciplines explicitly state which riding helmets are required to compete. They might even distinguish between helmets and clothing allowed for schooling and the clothing required to compete in the show ring.

Whether or not there are specific rules, only wear riding helmets for performing equestrian sports. Bicycle helmets, motorcycle helmets and skateboarding helmets will not provide adequate protection for horseback riding.

Helmet comfort

It’s crucial that your helmet be comfortable in order to provide the best protection. Many equestrian sport helmets have features that increase comfort. Removable headbands can help ensure proper fit as you break in your helmet. Extra ventilation in the top and back of the helmet can keep you cool in the warmer months, and a wide peaked brim helps to shade your eyes.

Some helmets also feature removable padding, which not only increases comfort but also improves fit.

Aesthetic considerations

If you are showing dressage, there are requirements for what a helmet must look like. However, if you are riding for schooling or for pleasure, there are many helmets that can show off individual style. Helmet covers also give riders a chance to showcase their personalities.

Additionally, different companies feature unique helmet silhouettes. Although safety is the primary concern, it’s okay to find a stylish helmet that makes you feel confident. Try several different brands to see which works best for you.

Equestrian helmet fit

It doesn’t matter how fancy or expensive your equestrian sport helmet is if it doesn't fit properly. Ultimately, the helmet needs to provide protection rather than aesthetic value. 

A properly fitted helmet sits just above your eyebrows. It should be tight enough around your head that when you move the helmet your eyebrows move, too. The helmet is too tight if there are indentations on your forehead when you take it off. Try to find that comfortable happy medium.

The chin strap should fit snugly but comfortably in the crook of your neck. It should not pinch or squeeze, but it also should not slide forward when you open your mouth. To test for proper fit, snap the clasp shut and open your jaw. The strap should allow you to open your mouth without feeling pressure, but if you open your jaw and don’t feel the strap, tighten the strap.

Best helmets for equestrian riders

Ovation Deluxe Schooler Helmet: available at Amazon

This helmet is consistently rated as comfortable by equestrians. It has a lightweight, low profile and features a dial at the back of the helmet to easily adjust the fit. Priced under $60, it is an affordable option for riders just starting out.

Troxel Rebel Performance Helmet: available at Amazon

The Troxel Rebel is a helmet designed for western riders, but it works for all schooling disciplines. It features a painted design on a black matte finish, and it has ventilation for cool riding.

Troxel Spirit Performance Helmet: available at Amazon

This helmet weighs in at just one pound, and it is one of the lightest, most comfortable helmets on the market. The Troxel Spirit is available in 16 colors, and it features a flex tip visor. The visor does not provide deep sun shading, but that’s the tradeoff for the lighter weight.

Tipperary Equestrian Unisex Sportage: available at Amazon

This Tipperary helmet is designed to protect your head with additional lightweight padding, impact-absorbing carbon fiber, an ABS shell and contouring at the back of the helmet. There are also reflective strips on the rear and visor of the helmet for good visibility in dark conditions.

One K Defender: available at Amazon

The oval shape of the One K Defender is a good option for those who don’t find a traditional helmet comfortable. This version is sleek and safe, with an ABS composite and injection-molded outer shell and an antimicrobial and moisture-wicking liner. 

RESISTOL Ridesafe Straw Cowboy Hat: available at Amazon

Cowboys need protection, too. The Ridesafe hat offers the look of a cowboy hat and the protection of a riding helmet. Use the size chart provided for a proper fit.

Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.


BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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