Bike Helmet for Horseback Riding

Bike helmets and horseback riding helmets have almost the same function as a seatbelt. They reduce the impact force during an accident involving collision, just as seatbelts do when you hit your head on a hard object during a car accident.

Seatbelts reduce the chance of sustaining an injury in case of an accident by increasing the time of impact. Helmets serve the same purpose by cracking to spread the impact energy.

Helmet doesn’t give full assurance for protection, especially against concussions, but it is very advisable. It is good you read our article on Concussion Vital Signs to get a deep insight of what concussion is.

Having your helmet on can prevent you from a brain injury or a serious head accident. Also, helmets for kids and less experienced riders are a must wear. Which helmet for which activity? Can a bike go for horseback riding?

Experienced riders rarely bother about wearing a helmet like beginners do. They feel they have gained enough experience, hence find wearing a helmet not useful. Riders often get involved in car accidents or even hit their heads on solid surfaces. Helmets come through in times like this to prevent your heads from any sort of damages.

Reasons People Avoid Riding a Horse with Helmets

  • Most often, when you want to maintain a fancy hairstyle, helmets aren’t advisable. People often complain of their hair getting sweaty whenever they use a helmet, although helmets are designed with good airflow facilities.
  • Also, most riders complain of the discomfort and extra heat wearing a helmet brings. So if you want to go for a casual evening ride with your horse, enjoy the breeze and fresh air without wearing a helmet.
  • Finally, you don’t look as cute in helmets as you would in a cowboy hat. Therefore, if you want to look good for a picture or an occasion, it is okay to briefly ride a horse without a helmet.

Note: there is no good argument for not wearing a helmet when horseback riding, since potential dangers outweigh any inconveniences you may face with helmets.

Design features of a bike helmet

A bike helmet comprises the following parts:


The outer shell gives shape to your helmet. They usually made them of either a thin plastic or a hard shell, like a skateboarding helmet. Shells usually have a reflective material at the back of a helmet that enhances visibility.

Fit system

The fit system is a series of straps and fasteners that tighten the helmet comfortably around your head.

EPS liner

They found this inside the helmet. They usually filled the inside of most helmets with expanded polystyrene foam or EPS. This high-density foam absorbs certain types of impacts and cushions your head to help prevent it from certain injuries.

Chin strap

The chin strap keeps your helmet on tight, so it is less likely to move off your head if impacted.

Strap divider

The strap divider makes the chin strap fit comfortably around your ears.


A helmet’s buckle securely affixes your helmet’s straps together under your chin.

What makes a good bike helmet?

A good bike helmet should fit your style of cycling. For instance, a mountain biker needs a different helmet from a road biker. This is because these two types of cycling require different movements, therefore requiring distinct features.

Common features of a mountain bike helmet are:

  • Good ventilation at low speeds
  • Good rear head coverage
  • Good fitting so that the helmet doesn’t move around on rough surfaces.

Common features of a road bike helmet are:

  • Very good ventilation
  • Aerodynamic
  • Low weight

Equestrian helmet vs bike helmet

There is a tremendous difference between a horse riding helmet and a bike helmet. A bike helmet is not safe to use when riding a horse and a bike helmet should never be used as a replacement for a horse riding helmet.

They designed bike helmets completely different from a horse riding helmet. They built a horse riding helmet to withstand a fall from a height of 9 to 10 feet, whereas a bike helmet is built for only about 5 feet. This is because bike crashes and falls from horses are very different.

A horse riding helmet offers extra protection to the back of the head and also protects specific areas of the head. This is because equestrians or horse riders are more likely to strike the back of their head or the sides after a fall. Bike helmets are built to protect the top of the head since most bicycle falls are forward, leading to a strike at the front of their head.

Design features of a horse riding or equestrian helmet

An equestrian helmet comprises a hard shell on the outside of an impact resistant plastic, most often covered with a cloth to make it look attractive. The brim is flexible and will give way immediately in a situation a rider lands on it.

Beneath the shells are materials designed to absorb the impact of a fall or of a blow. The inside is lined and sometimes padded in order to be comfortable for the rider. The design of a horse riding helmet includes ventilation, and a harness is attached to keep the helmet on the head all the time.

Equestrian helmets have sport- specific differences from those used in other sports. For this reason, a helmet designed for another sport like bicycle helmets or motorcycle helmets is not suitable for horse riding. Bike helmet for horseback riding isn’t suitable.

A horseback riding helmet covers more of a person’s head than a bicycle helmet, fitting lower on the head, particularly at the back of the skull. It also has protection distributed evenly around the head rather than concentrated in the front and at the top.

Aside from safety features, aerodynamics is less important in a riding helmet than in a bicycle or motorcycle helmet. In addition, good ventilation and comfort are important features of a horse riding helmet.

Many horseback riders consider helmets hot, uncomfortable and unattractive and so they avoid wearing them. However, classic hunt caps, which modern helmets attempt to resemble, offer little or no protection to a horse rider. Therefore, all horseback riders are advised to use helmets while horse riding for their own protection.

Structure of a horseback riding helmet

Because a riding helmet will absorb the force of a blow or a fall, the foam padding is destructible. Once a helmet has absorbed an impact, the foam padding condenses and never regains its original will no longer provide adequate protection.

A destructible impact could be a fall from a horse or being dropped on a solid surface. Therefore, once a helmet has fallen, it should be changed. A helmet also needs to be changed at least everything five years as the foam depreciates over time and becomes less effective.

Fit of a helmet

Fit affects the effectiveness of a helmet and makes the helmet more comfortable on your head. It is more likely to be used often. It is advisable for a rider to try on many helmets before finally choosing his desired helmet, as each model fits differently. Some guidelines for fitting a helmet are:

  • The helmet should fit around the entire skull and sit just above the eyebrows.
  • It should be tight, but not uncomfortably tight. If something gently wiggled the helmet, the skin around the forehead should move with it.
  • All straps should be comfortably fastened. Normal conversations should not be affected, but if they opened the mouth as if you are yawning, this should pull down on the helmet.
  • If the helmet needs additional padding for a more secure fit, go with a small size or some other model.
  • Do not forget that the fit of a helmet will relax a little as it is used. So a tight fit is essential.

Can I use horse riding helmet for cycling?

In this scenario, they will prefer a horse riding helmet than using no helmet at all. However, bike helmets and horse riding helmets are built differently. You should not wear your bike helmet to ride.

Bicycle helmets may seem sufficient for head protection. You may even find them lighter, cooler, and more comfortable. However, bike crashes and falls from horses are 2 different things, therefore the helmet design is quite different.

We do not design bike helmets to protect your head when you are horseback riding. The height of a fall from a horse is far greater than the height of a fall from a bike. They do not build bike helmets to withstand impact from the height of a horse.

They also built bike helmets to protect the top of the head since most falls from bikes and bicycles are forward. Falls from horses can occur in all direction hence the back and sides of the head are just as vulnerable. A bike helmet does not protect these parts of the head.

Your brain does not heal as fast and well as other body parts, like the bone. Brain injuries can cause lifelong effects. Hence, put on the proper helmet for the proper sport.

How long does a horse riding helmet last?

Horse riding helmets do not last forever. Even if you do not put them on regularly, the helmet’s foam and internal layers lose their effectiveness as time passes by.

Horse riding helmets last for a maximum of five years. If a helmet has undergone no damage, you may still have to change it after years if you use it regularly. It is difficult to recognize damage without special equipment.

Suppose you got involved in an accident while you were horse riding or your helmet got visibly damaged. In that instance, it is best to have the helmet replaced immediately, especially if you are into extreme sports like polo.

Cheap helmets offer protection too, and not replacing a damaged helmet can cost you a lot more money and even your time if you sustain a severe injury. Hence, bike helmet for horseback riding aren’t advisable.

You may like to read related information on How to Clean a Bike Helmet and Do Bike Helmets Expire?



Should you wear a helmet on a horse?

Always have a helmet on while horse riding and be prepared. A horseback riding helmet protects not only your head from hitting the ground hard, but also protects you from sharp objects. You may hit a tree branch while riding.

While you should wear a helmet while horseback riding

Horseback riding carries a higher injury rate per hour of exposure than downhill ski racing, football and motorcycle racing. Medical Examiner reports show that 60% or more of horse related deaths are caused by head injuries.

Helmets can reduce this possibility by 70-80%. Head injuries are the most common reason for horse related hospital admissions.

Each sport has its own particular helmet, but it is preferable to use a helmet designed for another activity like bike helmet while horse riding than riding with no helmet at all. Here, bike helmet for horseback riding are preferable.

Can you wear a horse riding helmet for bike riding or skateboarding?

Definitely, you can put on any helmet you want, but it is best to use the headgear for the sports they designed it for. They build an appropriate helmet to protect you against the inherent risks of the sports.

Unlike horseback riding helmets, they build bike helmets to render protection for higher speeds. Also, skateboarding helmets should withstand multiple impacts at a time.

People should normalize using the helmets for the sports. It might be very tempting to put on your horse riding helmet for bike riding or skateboarding, but this isn’t wise for your protection.

Is it illegal to ride a horse without a helmet?

There is no federal law regulating the use of helmets. But states, cities or countries may have that need you to put on a helmet when horseback riding.

Also, helmets are compulsory for youths under the ages of 16 and 14 in Florida and New York, respectively. However, all helmets in this case must be ASTM/SEI certified according to the US Equestrian Federation. The rules for using helmets in competitive sports vary a lot, so it is advisable to always check the laws wherever you intend to ride.

Ski helmets vs. horse riding helmets

Horse riding is a unique activity that requires specific helmets. A riding helmet gives a different protection when compared to ski helmets. Since horse riding helmets are a higher explicit certification, they often advised that you do not use ski helmet for horse riding if you can prevent it.

Why don’t western riders wear helmets?

Often, western horseback riders avoid using a safety helmet. Whereas English riders are fond of wearing helmets while horse riding.

One reason western riders avoid wearing a helmet is because of the hat. Cowboys and cowgirls would prefer wearing a cowboy hat to an actual helmet.

It is a matter of peer pressure and fashion consciousness. This is also a matter of comfort, as helmets tend to be hot. They also do not have a nice wide brim to shade your face and shoulders.

It is also about invincibility and fatalism. Young cowboys and cowgirls may think that they are invincible. They often think that head injuries happen to other people and may never happen to them.

This makes them have little or no concern for their safety. Older cowboys and cowgirls who spent a lifetime riding hatless or with a cowboy hat may also have spent a lifetime engaging in dangerous activities like smoking. They have this belief that you’ve got to go somehow, and hitting your head on a hard surface when thrown from a horse is as good a way as any.

Do cowboy hats protect your head?

Be it an English rider or a Western rider, be you a beginner or a professional, be it a man or a woman, wearing a horseback riding helmet is very essential regardless your status.

You should always wear an equestrian helmet that meets ASTM standards and is SEI certified. A cowboy hat cannot help protect your head in case you fall.



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