b. Upon arrival, anyone riding a horse must wear properly fitting protective headgear which passes or surpasses ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. Harness must be secured and properly fitted.
538.1.1 Protective Headgear While riding on the show grounds, the use of a properly fastened Protective Headgear will be mandatory Protective headgear must comply with any of the European (EN), British (PAS), North American (ASTM), Australian/New Zealand tested standards .
- The helmet must meet the requirements as stated in the rule above. These rules may change as new materials and safety features become available so it’s a good idea to keep up on the rule changes.
- The helmet must fit properly. Try on as many as necessary to find one that fits and is comfortable. You want it to fit snuggly on the head, have a shape that is comfortable for your head shape, and if you move your head up and down in a nod the helmet should stay in place without the chin strap buckled. The chin strap should not be in a position that hurts you ears. Be aware that some helmets are more round and others are more oval shaped. Find one that fits the shape of your head, not just the size, and make sure the harness at the back of the helmet is comfortable and doesn’t cause the front of the helmet to ride too low on your forehead or you’ll have difficulty seeing.
- The helmet must be in a comfortable price range for you. After a quick search I found helmets range in price from $50 to well over $1,000 so decide on a budget and go shopping. Once you are past the first two requirements above, the rest is comfort, air flow, and looks so now you can begin to filter by personal preference.
- Air flow is the next thing to consider. You will be spending a lot of time with the helmet on in the heat and humidity of summer and air flow will become a large issue. Rank air flow above looks or any other desireable feature.
- Padding and interior material is also a serious consideration. Some helmets come with removable padding that can be washed to remove sweat and bacteria, and some helmets come with materials that are easy to just wipe clean. There are also cleaning sprays designed specifically for cleaning the interior of helmets and available in most tack shops. At a minimum, try to get something easy to clean.
- Harness material is another issue. For the life of your helmet, look for a material that is firm but will not break or crack over time if bent. Leather is the best, and if kept clean will last for the life of the helmet. Avoid vinyl and other plastics of possible, although the chin straps made of woven materials are both sturdy and washable.
- After all safety and comfort issues have been satisfied, the very last consideration should be appearance, although I know that in most cases it will be number one on the list. In eventing circles you may be covering your helmet with colorful silks so what is under the cover can have any appearance, but in the hunter/jumper world it’s a very different story and, in the end, satisfaction with one’s appearance instills its own level of confidence, so put the balance of your budget toward finding a helmet that satisfies as much of the above as possible and makes you feel like a winner.
I hope this answers your question. I have deliberately not mentioned helmet manufacturers or popular models because I think it’s more important to find a helmet that fits properly and suits the individual rider.