Velvet horse riding helmets will often expire within five years of their original production date. However, there are several factors that can weaken a helmet prior to its expiry date, such as an extremely hard blow to the vulnerable face area, such as when coming off the horse. Also, the helmet might have absorbed most of the impact, even though it doesn’t become totally weak immediately after a crash. If the hard blow doesn’t penetrate the outer layer of the shell, then the internal layers are usually spared.
So is it better to buy a cheaper helmet? Certainly not, especially if you don’t use the equestrian equipment regularly. You want to make sure the helmet protects your best equestrian assets, such as the eyes and face. It’s not the cheapest deal on the market if it doesn’t offer maximum protection.
Assess The Features
Look for helmets with safety features such as removable cheek pads and vents. If there are multiple positions for adjustability, then it’s preferable to go for one with multiple straps rather than a single strap. Multiple straps ensure there is plenty of breathing air in case of a sudden unexpected stop. Many accidents occur on public roads where there isn’t adequate ventilation and riders find themselves at risk of being overheated. Even a simple “cool-down” period during a vigorous ride can cause serious injury or death if the air-flow isn’t provided between the helmet and the rider’s skin.
Look For The Build Quality
A good, solid helmet should also have a well-constructed inner liner, as this will help prevent any ripping or tearing during a fall, and absorbs shock for a more comfortable ride. A good equestrian helmet should have a fabric lining, as this is completely waterproof. The outer fabric lining is usually a neoprene quilted design that is stretchy and easily washable, but some brands of equestrian helmets do have a lining made from leather that looks and feels better. The innermost lining is typically made of a breathable cotton fabric that will quickly absorb any moisture, preventing the rider from feeling hot and sweaty after a ride.
Buy The Right Variation
There are two main types of helmets that every equestrian rider should own: a low profile riding helmet and an up-market high-end style called a full-face helmet. The low profile riding helmet is suitable for sports such as trail rides, motocross racing, polo and team events. Low profile riding helmets often have only a low, wide, oval-shaped visor and chin guard. This is because they are meant to be lighter weight and less protective than higher-end equestrian helmets. For more protection, there is a high-end full-face helmet that has a thick, reinforced outer shell and interchangeable visors and chaps.
Consider The Durability
Although these helmets look similar, the difference between them lies in their construction. A low profile riding helmet is usually made from a lightweight foam that takes the impact well and protects the rider’s noggin from dings and dents. They are also lightweight, so they can be easily strapped on and removed without causing much discomfort. Some of these lightweight horses do weigh quite a bit, however. High-end equestrian helmets are constructed of carbon fibre, Kevlar fibre or high tech polycarbonate and weigh almost seventy pounds. These best horse riding helmets are also usually equipped with very strong shock-absorbing liners that help reduce the impact when an accident occurs.
Make Sure It Has Outer Edges
To protect the wearer from hot dings and dents, there is one thing to look out for and that is what is called an “irh” or “irh bar.” An irh bar is a small indentation at the brow of the best horse riding helmet. The indentation serves to channel the air away from the face and neck and toward the outer edges of the helmet. This reduces chafing and buildup of heat under the chin. Many times, these bars will be covered with a mesh liner to further prevent chafing from occurring. Some have straps to hold them in place at the brow.
If you are looking for something a little different and want something that is not as heavy, then you might want to consider an “Ovation” riding helmet. The Ovation helmet has a moulded outer shell that fits firmly over the wearer’s skull. It has air vents that are strategically placed throughout the outer shell. There is also a buckle in the centre of the outer shell that allows the helmet to buckle closed. If you like a really nice and cosy feel to your helmet, then you may want to look at the new Vulkania line of helmets that utilize the same moulded outer shell.