No matter how much caution or confidence a rider may have, the inherent risk of head injury in equestrian sports can never be completely eliminated. Studies have found that protective headgear can reduce the risk of horse-related casualties by 70-80%. For this reason, the quality of a riding helmet is an essential factor to the safety of even the most experienced riders.
Several states and cities have actually enacted ordinances mandating the use of equestrian safety helmets, and almost every official equestrian organization requires helmet-use in competition, especially if the rider is considered a minor.
So, when in the market for a riding helmet, it is essential to select one that provides with the utmost protection while satisfying any other comfort or aesthetic preferences.
Comparison Chart of the Best Horse Riding Helmets
Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport Helmet
Ovation Protege Helmet
Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet Large Black
What are Horse Riding Helmets Made of?
Riding helmets typically have hard outer shells composed of impact-resistant plastic or resins. For those who prefer a more classic English style, this shell maybe covered in velveteen cloth. Underneath the shell, there will be materials meant to absorb shock of a fall or blow and incorporated structures that allow ventilation for the head have become standard for quality modern helmets to avoid overheating.
The interior will be padded with foam and often lined for comfort, though the amount of padding is quite variable and should be a major factor when considering the functionality of the helmet. A good helmet will also have some type of brim at the front, the length of which will vary, but these are usually flexible so there is some give if the rider lands on it.
The actual shape of a riding helmet can be more rounded like traditional hunt caps, or it may be more sporty, resembling a bicycle helmet. These days, almost all styles compared to other types of helmets will fit lower on the skull and cover more of the head with evenly distributed protection to account for potential equestrian-specific injuries.
Several countries have organizations that set official safety standards for helmets as well as conformity assessments within particular competitive organizations. In the United States, equestrian helmets are generally required to meet ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and Material/Safety Equipment Institute) certifications* to be used in competition, however it is important to look out for fraudulent certification labels.
*Non-US safety certifications (UK: PAS 015, often marked with a kite symbol, EU: EN 1384, AUS/NZ: 3838/2006)
Review of the Best Horse Riding Helmets
Now we're going to take a look at some of our favorite models and explain why they're on our list!
1. Ovation Deluxe Schooler Helmet
Ovation combines function and style with the Deluxe Schooler Helmet. Low-profile and lightweight, this helmet offers a classic hunt-style appearance with the practicality of a sportier schooling helmet.
With a rubberized coating and removable breakaway visor, the outer build of the helmet is designed for the schooling rider.
It has advanced adjustability features such as a easy-to-use rear dial, comfortable leather straps, and a YKK brand clip for an optimally snug fit.
This helmet comes in 4 different sizes and eight solid colors. The interior includes a moisture-wicking, removable liner and high-flow vents for air circulation.
This helmet is a great low-budget option for the young, schooling rider. The traditional style and hardiness would be especially useful for those just beginning to show, though trade offs are made in lasting durability for the lower price point.
2. Tipperary Sportage Equestrian Sport Helmet
The Tipperary Sportage Helmet has long been a fan favorite. With a dense, but lightweight ABS shell this helmet has high shock absorption.
The shell is contoured with a drop back for complete coverage of the head. Interior comfort foam and plenty of ventilation make for a very comfortable wear. Strap adjustability and a range of sizes ensures a proper fit.
The Sportage comes in eleven different colors of its sleek and sporty carbon-fiber design, and adds extra safety with the reflective rear panel and flexible, but short, visor.
Tipperary offers a sturdy, yet lightweight helmet in the Sportage that can survive intensive everyday training while maintaining great comfort and style.
This may not be ideal for Dressage or Equitation showing, but would be ideal for eventing, gaming, and casual use. Considering the durability and quality brand, the Sportage would be a very cost-effective investment.
3. Ovation Protege Helmet
This helmet offers great comfort and functionality without a big price tag.
The Ovation Protege has one of the lightest low-profile designs on the market, using a high density ABS protective material that doesn’t add extra weight.
Its sleek and sporty design comes in eight colorways and several sizes, along with a dial adjustability and quick snap buckle system to ensure a secure fit.
With mesh vents and and a soft, removable lining, this helmet is built for continual comfort and use.
Most comparable to the Tipperary Sportage, the Ovation Protege provides a cheaper, but comfortable and safe helmet for a rider of any level.
The biggest concern with this one is its durability. While it could be comfortable and protective, those features may not last as long as other, similar options.
4. Troxel Spirit Schooling Helmet
Advertised as the most popular helmet on the market, the Troxel Spirit is a budget-friendly, but protective option for the beginning rider.
This schooling helmet provides security with its patented GPD II stabilizing system as well as an ASTM/SEI certified outer shell and extended soft-tip visor. To accommodate for growing riders, its adjustability mechanisms include a GPS II dial and flip-fold system and easy-to-use strap buckles.
The inside of the helmet features a removable and washable headliner and large mesh-covered vents for maximum airflow. The Spirit is designed for all-purpose riding and and the wear and tear of everyday schooling.
The Troxel Spirit is basic helmet with all the necessary features to keep you safe for everyday training. Without too many bells and whistles, if you’re looking for a solid and affordable helmet, this one does the job.
5. Charles Owen Ayr8 Helmet
The Charles Owen Ayr8 Helmet excels in the style category, offering 8 different color options and combining a smart, low-profile look with side panels of microfiber suede and a modern center panel of heat-reflective paint and mesh-covered rear ventilation system.
It has a GRpx harness technology with scientifically-designed grips and lacing at the back for an optimal, snug fit.
The 12-aperture ventilation system and thermoregulatory paint allow for maximum airflow, while the antimicrobial ions embedded in the lining provide odor protection - a great feature for riders who do more intensive training.
The Ayr8 is ASTM/SEI certified and kitemarked.
This is a solid higher-end helmet with high overall quality and design. It may not be as practical for everyday intensive or beginner use, but would be a great option for more advanced showing and indoor flatwork training.
Considerations When Buying a Horse Riding Helmet
First and foremost, you must consider the protective technology of a riding helmet, as that is the main function of the product.
If it doesn’t provide you with standard or above standard head safety, you may as well not wear one at all.
Most decent helmets will meet the ASTM/SEI certification, so any that do not are likely not worth the money and will fall short in other departments.
In addition to its use for comfort, more padding will entail better protection from impact, and a stronger shell material will help to absorb shock.
Durability and Quality
For a helmet to be of good value, you will, of course, want it to last. Durability should be a key consideration when purchasing a helmet as these items do tend to go through quite a bit of wear and tear, especially in more high risk disciplines such as eventing or gaming where falls are more frequent.
The quality of the shell material is usually a good indicator of durability; the thinner plastic helmets tend to crack much easier than polycarbonates and ABS plastics.
It is important to note that if a helmet does crack after a big fall, its protective capabilities will probably be compromised, meaning it would need replacement.
Comfort is certainly a determining factor in deciding what helmet best suits your needs. This will be subjective depending on head shape and personal comfort preferences.
Typically, the most comfortable helmets will have substantial interior padding, an efficient integrated ventilation system to allow air circulation to the head for sweat control, lightweight, but not flimsy materials, and adjustable chin straps.
Style is another important element to account for, particularly for competitive riders who need a specific helmet style for their respective discipline.
Again, this is largely up to individual taste, but it is important to select a helmet you can get good use out of and feel confident wearing it, whether in a casual or show setting.
Many riders opt for a classic hunt-style English helmet, and these can come with or without a black velvet covering.
Even more common are the sportier options, these tend to be more slim and modern-looking, and come in a variety of colorways. Newer helmets often combine the two styles as well.
Our top pick for riding helmet is the Ovation Deluxe Schooler Helmet. This is a medium cost and practical helmet, but offers quality above is price level in comfort, durability, and protective abilities.
The Ovation Deluxe is classy and sleek enough to be used in smaller or more casual show events, and of course is great for daily training or pleasure riding.
For a reasonable price, the Ovation Deluxe Schooler Helmet would be a fantastic choice for any rider looking for comfortable and stylish helmet that lasts.