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Sun, 12 May 2019 15:44:00
Charles Owen Sparkly YR8 Riding Hat

You’d no more think of mounting your horse for a ride without wearing your riding helmet than you would think of driving your car without wearing a seatbelt – so we hope, anyway!

The question of riding helmets and what they’re all about was brought to mind recently when Prof. Roy Burek, grandson of Charles Owen who founded the great British safety helmet company bearing his name, passed away in his sleep. Roy, like his grandfather before him, was committed to making riding safer and saving lives by preventing head injury. His legacy lives on, because a Just Giving pagehas been created with a view to establishing a trust to fund further research into head injury.

Equestrian Headgear

It’s hard to believe that in the United States only one in eight riders wear a safety helmet! We here in the UK however have been “heading” the safety initiative since Charles Owen began manufacturing cork helmets for the military in 1911.

Before then equestrian headgear was fashionable rather than safe. Our forebears rode out hunting or hacking in top hats or bowler hats. Those exercising and riding race horses or jumping in gymkhanas had little to protect their noggins other than a flat cap. 

Even the early safety helmets were a far cry from the technologically designed riding helmets we have saving lives today.

It seems it took a long time for the equestrian world to realise that horses are flight animals, and that no horse is bomb proof. We’re sure you’ve all had a fall or two and can attest to that fact!

Modern manufacturers of riding safety helmets haven’t forfeited fashion … there is a huge range of styles available for different equestrian disciplines. You can sport everything from traditional velvet to sparkles. You can even wear a basic skull cap that allows you to use a variety of hat covers – also known as hat silks – to add style and match your outfit.

Safety Standards

It’s the safety standards that count the most though, and something every rider should be aware of when investing in a helmet. There are different standards applicable to different countries, but here in the UK the British Standards Institute insists on quality Kite marks decided on after rigorous testing.

The standards are reviewed every two years, so make sure yours is up to date.
To make it even more complicated different equestrian competition bodies have different rules and requirements for helmets. A recent article in Horse and Hound may help you ensure you have a fitting riding hat for your purpose.

If you’re in any doubt about buying the correct helmet you should consult your local tack shop. Here at Totally Tack, for example, we know exactly what you need and how to properly fit a riding hat.

A Fitting Riding Hat

Like Roy Burek of Charles Owen said, a riding hat has to fill three criteria: “Fit, function and fashion”.

For us, fit is all important. Why … because protection from impact in the event of a fall depends on the riding hat’s ability to stay in place, and, of course, you need it to be comfortable and be able to see and hear clearly while riding.

Firstly we’d like to say that a riding hat is a personal item. Don’t think you can beg, borrow or steal one and ride off into the sunset as safe as houses! You can never know the history of a borrowed helmet, and if it has received an impact in the past its safety may be compromised. You also can’t risk your precious head to a helmet that doesn’t fit you properly, or is properly secured.

Yes, we sell riding helmets online – a great range of them actually – but only to those who assure us they have been properly fitted and measured and request a particular make, size and model which they know suits them. We will also supply replacement helmets in the same vein for those whose helmets have been damaged or compromised in an accident.

So, if you are buying a completely new riding helmet, for safety’s sake, come and see us in our showroom, make a selection and let us professionally fit it for you. If you’re not close enough to visit, see another BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) approved hat fitter.

Be safe, not sorry … wear your helmet while riding! Please don’t become a statistic. Ride safe!

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