Are you searching for the best horse riding helmets?
Whether you need a show, trail, or youth horseback riding helmet, I have reviewed the top models available on today's market and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Check the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices, or read on for the full review:
- Troxel Spirit Schooling
- Ovation Deluxe Schooler
- Troxel Legacy Schooling Horseback Riding Helmet
- Charles Owen Wellington Professional
- IRH 4G
- Unistrength Horse Riding Helmet
- Ovation Extreme
- Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport
- Troxel Dakota Performance Riding Helmet
- Resistol RideSafe Western Hat Helmet
Are you wearing a helmet when you hop on your horse? Has your child recently taken up riding? After reading this article you will find the best horse riding helmets for your needs.
Whether you are a beginner equestrian or a seasoned rider, having the right helmet for your style of riding is a must!
When you are in the ring or working with your favorite horse, the proper riding helmet protects you against injury.
Aside from your personal preference, there is no reason to leave the helmet at home. So, how do you know you are buying the right helmet?
What to Look for in a Horseback Riding Helmet
The United States Equestrian Federal (USEF) found a correlation between riders that took jumping classes and head injuries.
In fact, in 2011 the USEF passed new safety helmet rules for eventing and dressage riders because of their commitment to protect both human and equine athletes. USEF President said, “If the technology is available to reduce head injuries, the time to use it is now.”
Riding helmets are different than those for other sports because they withstand a fall from a height. Helmets you have laying around the garage, like a bicycle helmet, is not made to protect your skull from a high drop.
The features to look for in a riding helmet is the product quality, durability of the helmet, the comfort level of the product, and the style or appearance of it. The selection of your helmet depends on your riding style, what you are doing out in the field, and what your style happens to be.
- Sizing for a Helmet: One of the most significant reasons adults don’t like to wear helmets is the reported headaches caused by this piece of equipment. It should be snug on your head but not uncomfortable. Your helmet should not wobble when on the head, does not move when you are upside down, and the brim needs to be at least one inch above your eyebrows. Use a dress makers tape to measure the circumference of your head, just an inch above your eyebrows. Just round up a half an inch and use that measurement to pick your size.
- Riding discipline. For most functional riders, look at the primary reason you ride and select your helmet for that use. Troxel makes excellent trail riding helmets while Charles Owen is known for showing.
- Colors or design. Black is traditional, with velveteen being the show helmet look, but if you are a recreational rider, there are fun helmets out with patterns like feathers, flowers, and plaids on them.
Riding requires the right fitting shoes, clothing, and saddles. Don’t overlook your helmet when getting on the horse. Don’t know where to start? Visit a store and try on different helmets to see what type you naturally prefer.
2 Types of Riding Helmets
As a general rule, the best horse riding helmets fall into two categories: schooling and trail riding helmets, or show helmets.
School and trail helmets are more lightweight and ventilated for long-term use. They are the kind of helmet you can throw around, drop in the mud, and wear when you are learning.
Unlike show helmets, horseback riding helmets aren’t made with traditional materials but easy to clean vinyl. You can spray off a trail helmet and dry it in two seconds with a towel.
This helmet type is more affordable than show options.
Show helmets come in standard colors like blacks and browns. While some shows require velveteen looks, a helmet cover can achieve that look. Try a traditional helmet with a rubberized finish you can cover for shows.
Horseback Riding Helmets vs Bicycle Helmets
Horseback riding helmets are different than others in appearance and function. Both Western and English styles but cover moves of the back of the rider’s head and provides protection for this specific area because of high falls.
In comparison, a bicycle helmet relies on comfort foam which offers minimal protection and liner material at the top of the head. A mass-produced bicycle helmet comes with less exact sizing than a riding helmet. It is common for a riding helmet in a few sizes with sizing pads available for a snug fit on the head.
During testing, a bicycle helmet gets exposed to flat surfaces to mimic falling on the ground or against something.
Equestrian helmet testing involves exposure to a large, sharp anvil on the helmet to simulate a horse’s hoof. Finally, if you are riding a horse and expect insurance coverage from a manufacturer’s claim, you need a helmet designed specifically for horseback riding to make a claim.
Keep Safety In Mind Every Time You Ride
Before every game, a football player pulls on his helmet. In fact, even when practicing a football player wears a helmet.
You are getting on a large animal with a mind of its own, so why not put on a helmet as well?
Even when it is just for a quick ride to exercise your horse, a helmet is just about your safety.
According to the United States Eventing Association (USEA), there has been a 40 percent decrease in rider injuries between 2007 and 2011 thanks to the attention to safety during eventing. This proves that wearing helmets, even in shows, decreased injuries.
Getting used to this new feature could save your life. You just never know if your horse will step on a wasp’s nest, feel upset and throw you, or even give you an accidental taste of the hard ground. The benefits of wearing an approved riding helmet include:
- Decreasing the amount of risk you take when on a horse
- Even if you are trained in dismounts, unexpected problems happen
- Helmets are not proven to cause headaches
- No matter your years of experience, injuries still occur
- Fit your head specifically
The Best Horse Riding Helmets
Pull on your riding helmet to protect your head with a fabric lining, foam padding, a fiberglass outer shell, a polystyrene liner, and a strap to hold it all in place. The elements combine to protect your head and keep you safe from serious injury. Whether you are looking for an adult helmet for yourself or a child's horseback riding helmet, it is important to select the appropriate size for each rider.
Best Kids Horse Riding Helmet
1) Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet
If you’ve spent any time riding horses, you’ve probably seen Troxel helmets around the barn. The Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet is a lightweight schooling helmet designed for multi-discipline use. This helmet is available in fuschia, mint, mint with a horse design, periwinkle, and other abstract designs for growing kids that want to show off a bit of personality.
This affordable youth riding helmet is about function, versatility, and venting. You can hose it off when it is dirty; some helmets come with an adjustable dial fit for growing kids and children, and mesh-covered vents for breathability. They’ve sold more than one million of the schooling helmet!
2) Ovation Deluxe Schooler
Ovation makes a very comfortable helmet, and that will make it much easier to keep it on your kid's head! The sizes are true to form and with fully adjustable straps you can make sure your child won't wiggle the straps loose. Sizes come in go from extra extra small up to medium.
This youth helmet does not wobble or feel overly bulky while maintaining the safety required for even the youngest rider.
3) Troxel Legacy Schooling Equestrian Riding Helmet
This classic horseback riding helmet comes in sizes for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. Young riders will enjoy the fun colors and designs available while parents can appreciate the safety certified riding helmet for providing the piece of mind Troxel is known for. This equestrian riding helmet is comfortable and secures well with the classic strap design allowing your child to keep their helmet on without trying to remove it during a long ride. This is an excellent and safe horse riding helmet for youth.
Best Show Equestrian Riding Helmet
1) Charles Owen Wellington Professional
Do you show your horse? The subtle but stylish Charles Owen Wellington Professional Helmet meets show requirements but also uses beneficial innovations. For example, the helmet has a suede harness on the back of your head for maximum comfort and ventilation holes that cool but don’t break standards.
With an classic equestrian profile, this is my favorite competition helmet.
2) IRH 4G Horseback Riding Helmet
If you are looking for a modern sleek styled show helmet, this is a good option. The matte finish along with a more streamlined profile makes this helmet compliment the rider, compared to larger crown of the classic styled Wellington.
Fully safety certified by sei and ASTM with effective front ventilation this helmet will help you stay cool during even the longest shows.
3) Unistrength Horse Riding Helmet
This equestrian riding helmet has a unique look for riders who want a look all their own. The artificial leather outer looks authentic while providing weather proof protection even when riding in the rain. I find this helmet to be quite comfortable and well ventilated making it a great helmet choice for long days in the show ring. The sun visor is ever so slightly longer than most which adds to this helmet's ability to keep the sun out of your eyes. Overall this is a great equestrian helmet for competition riders looking for a unique helmet that is still a top performer.
Best Trail Riding Helmet
1) Ovation Extreme Riding Helmet
Do you live in a hot climate? Stay cool and still protect your head with the Ovation Extreme Helmet. It comes with a range of innovative features to cool off including a washable liner, Coolmax fabric that is moisture-wicking and breathable, and multiple high-flow vents for air flow. This cool, light helmet is excellent for long trail rides.
2) Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport Helmet
This option from Tipperary is well constructed. All padding is enclosed securely which should add to it's durability and fit over the long haul. But the padding is made to be removed for easy cleaning. Quite a good design.
This equestrian helmet is comfortable and even comes with padding on the chin and ear straps. Mine came with extra pads and a helmet bag which was perfect for tossing in the horse trailer before heading to the trails.
3) Troxel Dakota Performance Riding Helmet
This horseback riding helmet is great for long trail rides. It is ASTM/SEI certified while being comfortable with good air flow to keep you cool while riding. The strap system conforms to your head and is quite comfortable. The helmet straps feel durable and should last for many riding trips. I particularly like the conchos that accent the straps. They give a nice look to the helmet while not being "too much". These troxel helmets are sized very specifically so make sure to take accurate measurements before ordering as I got my size wrong the first time.
Best Western Riding Helmet
1) Resistol RideSafe Western Hat Helmet
Want to wear a cowboy hat while keeping your noggin in one piece? You can start with the Resistol western style head protector. It makes an excellent option for kids that want to visit a dude ranch, ride the trails, and learn about riding. This helmet will also protects the brain of the toughest cowboy and cowgirl.
Made with 7X fur felt and a brim-shaped like your favorite cowboy hat, the Resistol RideSafe Western Hat Helmet has a unique style.
It also makes a great option for kids that want to visit a dude ranch, ride the trails, and learn about riding. Protect your head with this option for kids and adults. Be sure to follow the fit instructions when buying this helmet.
Stay Safe with a High Quality Horseback Riding Helmet
No matter your reason for riding, a helmet should be on your head for your safety. Even the most experienced riders suffer injuries because of surprises or accidents. Just add it to your equipment list, like you would a nice pair of boots.
Here are my picks for the best horse riding helmet one more time
- 1Troxel Spirit Schooling
- 2Ovation Deluxe Schooler
- 3Troxel Legacy Schooling Horseback Riding Helmet
- 4Charles Owen Wellington Professional
- 5IRH 4G
- 6Unistrength Horse Riding Helmet
- 7Ovation Extreme
- 8Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport
- 9Troxel Dakota Performance Riding Helmet
- 10Resistol RideSafe Western Hat Helmet
Horse Riding Helmet Benefits
In a statistical analysis conducted by Ball, Ball, and Kirkpatrick on Canadian adults suffering from horse-related trauma, it was found that the average injured rider had 27 years of experience.
It is estimated that wearing a helmet makes you eighty percent more likely to survive a significant fall from your horse.
The keys are to select a properly fitting ASTM/SEI certified helmet and ensure that it is not too old. Always replace a helmet after a fall and by the manufacturer recommended date.
ASTM and SEI certified helmets are designed with a layer of bubble like material between the shell and the inner lining of the helmet. This provides the shock absorption your head needs when you fall and make impact with the ground.
Let your helmet take the abuse, not your head.
A helmet that is no longer safe is no better than wearing no head protection at all.
Any one of our recommended horseback riding helmets protects the rider and meets all federal safety standards. From there you just need to get the right type of helmet for your riding style.
Fred is the editor of Equine Ridge. He grew up raising horses and has been riding, training, and competing for almost four decades. Fred started out performing on the AQHA and PHBA circuits. Fred trained other competitors in English and Western riding disciplines and today offers free riding lessons to youth who would otherwise not be able to afford lessons. When not working with horses he can be found backpacking or trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Email Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org