What are the best horse riding helmets?

Best Horse Riding Helmets

Last Updated on September 1, 2020

Are you searching for the top horse riding helmets?

Whether you need a show, trail, or youth horseback option, I have reviewed the best 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:

  1. ​Troxel Spirit Schooling
  2. Ovation Deluxe Schooler
  3. Troxel Legacy Schooling
  4. ​Charles Owen Wellington Professional 
  5. IRH 4G ​
  6. Unistrength 
  7. Ovation Extreme​
  8. Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport
  9. Troxel Dakota Performance
  10. Resistol RideSafe Western

Are you wearing one of the best helmet models when you hop on your horse? Has your child recently taken up riding? After reading this article you will find the top reviewed models for your needs.

Whether you are a beginner equestrian or a seasoned rider, having the right safety gear for your head is a must!

Whether you are in the show arena or working out on the trails, the proper riding helmet protects you against injury.

Aside from your personal preference, there is no reason to leave your head unprotected. So, how do you know you are buying the one? Read on for the full review for the top picks for adults and kids.

Top Rated Best Horseback Riding Helmet Picks

A top model is equipped 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.

These 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 size, it is important to select the appropriate one for each rider.


1) Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet

If you’ve spent any time riding horses, you’ve probably seen Troxel styles around the barn. The Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet is one of the best lightweight schooling designs that is ideal for multi-discipline use. This model 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 sized option is all about function, versatility, and proper ventilation. 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 breath-ability. They’ve sold more than one million of this model and it is a proven winner.


  • Troxel’s sizing system allows you to adjust the circumference as your child grows for best fit
  • Available in cute colors for adults and children wanting to show a bit of flair
  • This product is easy to clean in case you fall or drop it in the dirt


  • This model does not suit adults as much as children. The brand specializes in products for growing heads

2) Ovation Deluxe Schooler

Ovation makes a very comfortable helmet, and this will make it much easier to keep it on your child’s head! It’s actually one of the best in regard to comfort and safety. The sizes are true to form and with fully adjustable straps you can make sure your child won’t wiggle the straps loose. And this is imperative for protecting their head.

Sizes come in extra extra small up to medium.

This youth sized option does not wobble or feel overly bulky while maintaining the safety required for even the youngest rider like toddlers.


  • Not bulky or heavy
  • Fully adjustable straps
  • Cool and well ventilated


  • Straps not as durable as other Ovations

3) Troxel Legacy Schooling Equestrian Riding Helmet

This classic horseback riding style from Troxel comes in sizes best 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 seal of approval for providing the piece of mind Troxel is known for. This equestrian model is comfortable and secures well with the classic strap design allowing your child to keep it on their head without trying to remove it during a long ride. This is an excellent model for safety and comfort.


  • Best option for young riders
  • Safety certified
  • Fun colors and equine designs


  • Some kids may find it top heavy


1) Charles Owen Wellington Professional

Do you show your horse? The subtle but stylish Charles Owen Wellington Professional meets show requirements best, but also offers awesome innovations. For example, this model 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 model and is very popular with serious exhibitors, both amateur and professionals alike.


  • Riders can expect to wear this model for at least six years
  • Suitable for hunter and jumper riding
  • Fits safely and well with a hairnet for thick, long hair


  • Heavy for some users
  • Easy harness adjustment may require the assistance of another person

2) IRH 4G Horseback Riding Helmet

If you are looking for a modern sleek styled show option, this is a top model for you. 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/ASTM with effective front ventilation this helmet will help you stay cool during even the longest shows. This model from IRH has been gaining in popularity over the last year and it has proven to be well worth the praise it has received. It is the best alternative to the Wellington.


  • Modern sleek design
  • Cool and comfortable fit
  • ASTM and SEI certified


  • Chin strap can rub

3) Unistrength Horse Riding Helmet

This top adult equestrian model from Unistrength has a unique look for riders who want a look all their own.

The artificial leather outer looks authentic while providing top weather proof protection even when riding in the rain.

I find it to be quite comfortable and well ventilated making it a great choice for long days in the show ring. This is close to the best show model when it comes to air flow.

The sun visor is ever so slightly longer than most other brands, which adds to it’s ability to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Overall this is a top choice for competition riders looking for a unique style that is still a top performer. 


  • Unique faux leather outer
  • Safety certified
  • Comfortable and well ventilated


  • Look isn’t for everyone


1) Ovation Extreme Riding Helmet

Do you live in a hot climate? Stay cool and still protect your head with the Ovation Extreme which is the top trail style pick. It comes with a range of innovative safety features including the ability to cool off with the washable liner.

Featuring Coolmax fabric, that is moisture-wicking and breathable, along with multiple high-flow vents for air flow. This cool, light helmet is best for long trail rides for those who spend time in hot weather.


  • Stainless steel air vent stops bacterial growth
  • Removable liner can be washed easily
  • Adjustable dial fits your head with different hairstyle changes


  • Rubberized finish does not suit all preferences
  • Only available in traditional colors

2) Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport Helmet

This top 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, easily one of the best for schooling and the trails.

This equestrian helmet is comfortable and even comes with padding on the chin and ear straps. Mine came with extra pads and a protective bag which was perfect for tossing in the horse trailer before heading to the trails. This model is very popular with long distance riders, and for very good reason.


  • Well ventilated
  • Comfortable fit with padded straps
  • 6 month warranty 


  • Make sure you receive a recent born on date

3) Troxel Dakota Performance Riding Helmet

This Troxel horseback 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. I found the vents to be some of the best on the market.

The strap system conforms to your head and is quite comfortable. The straps feel durable and should last for many trail trips.

I particularly like the conchos that accent the straps. They give a nice look to the helmet while not being “too much”. This Troxel style is sized very specifically so make sure to take accurate measurements before ordering as I got my size wrong the first time.


  • ASTM/sei certified
  • Fits comfortable 
  • Top durable straps


  • Be sure to measure your size accurately


1) Resistol RideSafe Western Hat Helmet

Want to wear a cowboy hat while keeping your noggin in one piece? You can start with one of these Resistol western style helmets. It makes an excellent option for kids that want to visit a dude ranch, ride the trails, and learn about riding and speed and action riders. This model will also protect 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 model has a top 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 model to ensure proper fit.


  • Brim can be shaped
  • 7x Fur Felt
  • Comfort Dial ASTM/SEI approved


  • Limited Colors Available

Features to Look for

The United States Equestrian Federal (USEF) found a correlation between riders that took jumping classes and head injuries. Makes sense.

In fact, in 2011 the USEF passed new safety 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 safety is different than those for other sports because this headgear is designed to withstand a fall from a height.

Helmets you have laying around the garage, like for other sports, are not made to protect your skull from a high drop.

The features to look for in the best models are product quality, durability, the comfort level of the product, and the style or appearance. The selection of your helmet depends on your riding style, what you are doing out in the field, and what your top personal style preference happens to be.

  • Sizing: One of the top reasons adults don’t like to wear head safety gear is the reported headaches caused by this piece of equipment. It should be snug on your head but not uncomfortable. Your model should not wobble when on your head, it should not move when you are upside down, and the brim needs to be at least one inch above your eyebrows for the best fit. 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 the most functional model, look at the primary reason you ride and select your model for that specific use. Troxel makes some of the best trail riding helmets while Charles Owen is known for top showing styles.
  • Colors or design. Black is traditional, with velveteen being the best show performer look, but if you are a recreational rider, there are fun styles available with patterns like feathers, flowers, and plaids on them.

Riding safely requires the right fitting boots, clothing, and saddles. But don’t overlook your head when getting on top of your horse. 

Types of Horse Riding Helmets

As a general rule, the top horseback riding styles fall into two categories: schooling and trail riding, or show models.

The best schooling and trail options are more lightweight and ventilated for long-term use. They are the kind of model you can throw around, drop in the mud, and wear when you are training.

Unlike show models, schooling and trail options are not generally made with traditional materials. But are instead constructed of easy to clean vinyl. You can spray off a trail style option and dry it in just a couple seconds with a towel. This is one of my top favorite features.

Trail and schooling types are usually more affordable than the best show options.

Show styles come in standard colors like blacks and browns. While some competitions require a velveteen look, a helmet cover can achieve that look if your particular model needs it. You can try a top traditional helmet with a rubberized finish you can cover for shows.

How Are They Different?

Horseback riding protective safety gear is different than other sports in appearance and function.

Both the best Western and English styles are designed to cover the back of the rider’s head and provide protection for this specific area because of high falls.

In comparison, helmets for different sports relies on comfort foam which offers minimal protection and liner material at the top of the head.

A mass-produced bicycle style, for example, comes with less exact sizing than a riding model. It is common for a riding helmet to come in a few sizes with sizing pads available for a snug fit on the head.

During testing, other sport helmets get exposed to flat surfaces to mimic falling on the ground or against something.

Equestrian helmet testing involves exposure to a large, sharp anvil being struck against it to simulate a horse’s hoof. Finally, if you are riding a horse and expect insurance coverage from a manufacturer’s claim, you need one of the top models, designed specifically for horseback riding to make a claim.  

It’s always best to think safety first

Before every game, an athlete pulls on his head protection. In fact, even when practicing a contact sport athlete wears a helmet.

And if you are getting on a large animal with a mind of its own, why wouldn’t you protect your head as well?

Even when it is just for a quick ride to exercise your horse, a top helmet is essential for 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 protective gear, even in shows, decreased injuries.

Getting used to this new feature could save your life. You never know if your horse will step on a wasp’s nest (this actually happened to a friend of mine while we were on the trails), feel upset and throw you. You must be prepared to ensure your safety.

The benefits of wearing approved riding helmets include:

  • Decreasing the amount of risk you take when on a horse
  • Even if you are trained in dismounts, unexpected problems happen
  • There is no scientific evidence that they cause headaches
  • No matter your years of experience, injuries still occur
  • Fit your head specifically

Stay Safe with a High Quality Horseback Riding Helmet

No matter your reason for riding, protecting your head with one of the best helmets should be a priority. 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 top horse riding helmet one more time

  1. ​Troxel Spirit Schooling
  2. Ovation Deluxe Schooler
  3. Troxel Legacy Schooling
  4. ​Charles Owen Wellington Professional 
  5. IRH 4G ​
  6. Unistrength 
  7. Ovation Extreme​
  8. Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport
  9. Troxel Dakota Performance
  10. Resistol RideSafe Western

Horse 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 protective head gear 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 model 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 options 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 model that is no longer safe is no better than wearing no head protection at all.

Any one of our recommended horseback riding picks protects the rider and meets all federal safety standards. From there you just need to get the right style for your riding particular discipline.

For more guides and tips read these articles:

2 thoughts on “Best Horse Riding Helmets”

  1. I grabbed a Charles Owen for me and my husband after reading your recommendation and we both used them during the end of this season. It really is worth the investment! I still have my Troxel as a backup but the Owen is the best horse riding helmet for showing in my opinion.

  2. Ive rode horses my whole life and back when we were kids nobody wore a helmet when riding their horses. Boy oh boy did we luck out that nobody was hurt but you don’t think about that stuff when you’re young. I still have my horses and my kids love to show and trail ride but you better believe their wearing their helmet everytime they go horseback riding!

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