It’s a standard rule that a riding helmet should be discarded after any fall where it has been struck hard. When this happened don’t wait around, it’s a good idea to replace straightaway.
As a general rule, it’s best get a new helmet every five or six years—replace your riding helmet sooner if it’s been exposed to extreme temperatures or chemicals like those found in automatic fly spray dispensers. Here are some clues that a helmet is ready to be replaced.
Things to watch out for:
- Clips on the chin strap being loose.
- Any parts of the mechanisms for adjusting fit are no longer working.
- The retention harness is pulling loose from its fasteners in the helmet shell.
- The inner lining is missing chunks or losing plastic “beads” that slough off.
- The outer surface has visible surface cracks, dents, warping or holes.
- The color is changing—plastic is yellowing and black velvet is turning a brownish beige
- Horseback riders have the same number of injury accidents as motorcycle riders.
Read more about this study in the The Equestrian Medical Safety Association (EMSA) Spring, 2010 Newsletter.
2. Your horse doing something unpredictable, like spooking, bucking, or bolting – is how most head injuries occur, but 20% happen when you’re simply around horses. 1 in 5 people seriously injured weren’t even riding – they were just hanging out around horses or watching someone else.
3. The most common reason among riders for admission to hospital and death are head injuries. About 70,000 people go to the emergency room each year for equestrian-related injuries. About 12,000 of those people have suffered head injuries.
4. Helmets work. Get the most protection out of your helmet. Fit it well and adjust before you ride.
5. Most riding injuries happen during pleasure riding.
You need to replace your helmet if you’re ever in a fall. It could have a defect that’s invisible, and if you fall on that same part of the helmet again, you won’t have the protection that you should.
Even if your riding helmet never takes a hit, it’s a good idea to replace it at least every five years (or sooner if you ride often), just because the helmet material can take a beating from all the sweat, heat, dust, and rain.
Avoid loaning your helmet to others. As a savvy rider, you want to know exactly what kind of treatment your helmet has experienced during its lifespan so you can knowledgeably assess its integrity over time.