A couple of years ago, we created a YouTube video, The truth about horse riding helmets, for International Helmet Awareness Day. This year, we decided to expand the list with a few more myths and facts about helmets and horse riding. Follow along as we debunk riding helmet myths and dig into why it’s essential to wear your helmet every ride, every time.
Myth #1: Wearing a helmet will give me a headache.
Fact: If your helmet is the right size, it should not cause headaches. A helmet should be snug but not tight. If the helmet fits properly and you are still having headaches, consider increasing your water intake. Horse riding activities require a lot of skill, strength, and energy, which can cause riders to dehydrate quickly. This is why it’s essential to make sure you are both hydrated and your helmet fits well to help avoid headaches.
Myth #2: Head injuries are not that common for horse riders.
Fact: Head injuries are the most common cause of death and injuries in horse-related accidents. Wearing a horse riding helmet can reduce the possibility of death from a horse-related head injury by 70-80%. According to the American Medical Equestrian Association, ASTM/SEI approved helmets have helped reduce severe head injuries by 50% and reduced all horse-related head injuries by 30%.
Myth #3: I can just wear a bike helmet while riding horses.
Fact: Bike helmets do not go through the same testing as helmets approved for horse riding and are made differently. Bike helmets are designed to protect the top of the head and withstand a fall from a bicycle. Riders can fall from a horse in many directions, and falling from a horse is higher than falling from a bike. For this reason, horse riding helmets are designed to protect the sides and back of the head and to withstand falls from greater heights.
When looking for a horse riding helmet, be sure that the helmet is ASTM/SEI certified. ASTM/SEI certified helmets have multiple layers, and they are rigorously tested to ensure they are qualified to protect the rider’s skull.
Myth #4: The helmet I’ve had for years still works fine, even with all the scrapes and scratches.
Fact: Helmets are said to expire 5 years after you first put it on your head. This is due to a combination of exposure to sweat, UV rays, and heat. If the helmet is dropped or damaged in any way, you should replace your helmet before your next ride. Any damage to a helmet compromises its effectiveness, so you must replace the helmet to ensure maximum protection.
Myth #5: Head injuries only happen to inexperienced riders.
Fact: According to a 10-year study conducted in Canada, the average number of years of riding experience for injured riders is 27 years. Although inexperience may increase injury risk, experienced riders may take more risks or perform techniques that increase their risk of injury. New riders may also be more cautious than experienced riders. Either way, accidents can happen at any time, no matter how skilled you are at riding.
Myth #6: Helmets are ugly and not stylish.
Fact: The days of boring and monotone helmets are behind us now. Horse riding helmets vary in style and design, so the rider has plenty of choices when buying a new helmet. With so many brands and styles to choose from, riders can pick a helmet to match their style. Plus, you can purchase helmet covers if you’d like to customize or change the look of your helmet.
Myth #7: Horse riding helmets are expensive.
Fact: While horse riding helmets vary in price, you can purchase an ASTM/SEI certified helmet for around $50. A good example of an affordable riding helmet is the Troxel Spirit Helmet, which is stylish and available in several colors. Although $50 may seem expensive to some, it’s nothing compared to the cost of hospital stays, emergency care, and the value of your life.
Myth #8: A helmet doesn’t shade my face like a cowboy hat does.
Fact: Shielding your eyes from the sun when riding is important, and for some riders, this may be one reason why wearing a helmet is unappealing. Luckily, helmet accessories like brims and visors help keep your eyes shielded from the sun when riding. There are also helmets available in different styles, such as ones resembling cowboy hats, which may work for you. Plus, you can always throw on a pair of protective shades to wear when riding.
Myth #9: I ride western, and western riders do not wear helmets.
Fact: If you look at an old picture of a western cowboy, from their boots to their hats, they dressed to protect themselves. Even cowboy hats were worn to protect riders from the sun and rain. While helmets were not available then, they are easily accessible now. Plus, there are several different styles and designs of western riding helmets to choose from, even cowboy-style helmets.
Myth #10: Helmets are hot and uncomfortable.
Fact: Both helmet design and breathability have improved over the years and continue to get better. Helmets are available in a wide variety of styles, so you can choose the design and fit that is most comfortable for you. If you can’t try on the helmet before buying, ask a few friends or family which styles they like or research for reviews to help you on your journey. Helmet ventilation is constantly advancing too, so while your head may get hotter than it would without a helmet, it’s not nearly as drastic as it used to be. Plus, a sweaty head is better than a potential injury.
Remember, it’s important to wear a helmet any time you ride a horse, no matter how short the ride may be. If you have any questions about choosing the right riding helmet, please feel free to contact Jeffers Equine Specialist, Kim. You can reach her by email at email@example.com, or by phone. Just call 1-800-533-3377, and ask for Kim.
For more horse riding tips, check out Jeffers’ blog, Top 10 Safety Essentials for Horse Trail Riding.