Riding horses can be relaxing or exhilarating, depending on how you choose to ride. Horses are capable of amazing speeds, far faster than humans can achieve on our own. Thoroughbreds, for instance, can reach speeds of 44 miles per hour, and Quarter Horses are even faster, able to sprint at 55 miles per hour. But even if you’re moving much slower, a fall from a horse can have some dire consequences.
It’s well-known that helmets are essential, or at least recommended, for high-risk activities like skateboarding, bicycles, and motorcycles. But if you didn’t know, horses can stand over 6 feet tall. A fall from that height could crack your noggin open, which is why helmets are also made for equestrian use.
Equestrian helmets are quite different from helmets used in other sports, but how are you supposed to compare horse helmets to find the right fit and features? To help, we’ve written detailed reviews comparing eight of the best options on the market, so you can decide which one you’ll trust to keep your head intact should an accident happen.
Quick Glance at the Winners of 2023
|Best Overall||Ovation Schooler Deluxe Riding Helmet||
|Best Value||Troxel Sport Horseback Riding Helmet||
|Premium Choice||IRH 4G Helmet||
|Troxel Spirit Horseback Riding Helmet||
|IRH Equi-Lite Horse Riding Helmet||
The 8 Best Horse Riding Helmets
1. Ovation Schooler Deluxe Riding Helmet – Best Overall
For the best overall riding helmet, we recommend the Ovation Deluxe Schooler riding helmet. It offers ample protection with plenty of vents to keep your head cool. It’s very lightweight and has a low profile, so you won’t feel like you’re wearing a 10-gallon hat strapped to your head.
You get many options with this helmet. There are quite a few colors to pick from. We like the color choices, but we’re not as thrilled with the many size options. Each size is fully adjustable with the adjustment dial, making it easy to customize the fit to your head. However, there are seven different sizes to pick from, so you’ll need to measure your head to be certain you get the right size.
When it’s time to clean, you can remove the liner and machine wash it. The visor is also removable, in case you decide you’d rather ride without it. It’s even priced reasonably for the quality. Altogether, we think it’s the best riding helmet, and we feel confident recommending it to you.
2. Troxel Sport Horseback Riding Helmet – Best Value
Horses are an expensive hobby. Not only do the horses cost a ton themselves, but all of the gear is pricey, and there’s a lot of gear to get. If you’re looking to save yourself a bit of money on your helmet, then we suggest checking out the Troxel Sport riding helmet. It’s cheaper than most of the competition, though it still offers everything you need in a riding helmet, which is why we think it’s one of the best horse-riding helmets for the money.
Importantly, this helmet is both ASTM (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) and Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) certified, which means that Troxel didn’t cut any corners when it comes to safety. Even though it’s cheaper than other helmets, you’re not skimping on safety.
Other positive features include multiple vents that make this helmet very breathable. The headliner can also be removed and machine washed, making it easy to keep this helmet clean. You’re limited in color choice to only white or black, but it seems like that’s about the only thing you’re giving up with this helmet; that and a high price tag!
3. IRH 4G Helmet – Premium Choice
IRH stands for International Riding Helmets, and this brand is well-known and respected in the equine world for making high-quality riding helmets that can be relied upon. As our premium choice pick, you can expect excellent performance and features from this helmet, but they come at a very high cost, as this riding helmet is far pricier than alternatives.
You’ll need to get the exact right size if you order this helmet, as there’s no way to do major size adjustments. However, the moisture-wicking liners are interchangeable, which does allow you to create a custom fit, giving this helmet a more comfortable fit than others. Granted, you have to go through the work of creating that custom fit. And don’t forget where your liners were placed when you remove them for a cycle through the washing machine!
As you’d expect with such a pricey helmet, it’s approved by both the ASTM and the SEI. You’ll notice multiple ventilation ports as well, making it a very breathable design. If you can stomach the high cost of this helmet, you’ll be more than pleased with all the great features it provides.
4. Troxel Spirit Horseback Riding Helmet
The Spirit model from Troxel isn’t nearly as affordable as their Sport model that earned our recommendation for the best value. But where this helmet shines is in the impressive number of options it provides. Most riding helmets are rather boring. They tend to share similar designs and come mainly in plain, neutral colors like black, white, and grey. With the Troxel Spirit, you get tons of different color options.
Inside this helmet is a removable liner that can be machine washed to get rid of your sweat. That said, you won’t be sweating too much in this helmet as it provides ample ventilation. In fact, 20% of this helmet is mesh, so you’re getting loads of airflow. It also weighs just 1 pound, so it’s light on your head.
This helmet is equipped with a dial-fit system, making it easy to get that proper, snug fit. However, it can be hard to find the correct size helmet. Each size spans less than half of an inch, so make sure you measure well before ordering one.
5. IRH Equi-Lite Horse Riding Helmet
The Equi-Lite horse-riding helmet from IRH is far more affordable than some of their other models, including the very expensive 4G model that earned our premium pick recommendation. Part of the reason for the lower price on the Equi-Lite model is that it’s made for kids. It’s ideal for new riders who are young and not yet full-size, but that means that these helmets won’t fit adult riders.
Keeping things simple, this helmet is available in only three sizes; small, medium, and large. Each helmet has a dial-fit system that allows for easy size customization. There are five vents in the front and four in the rear to keep the rider’s head cool during use. Naturally, this helmet meets all necessary safety standards, including CE certification to European EN standards, plus, the standard ASTM and SEI certifications.
To keep your head safe, this helmet uses thick foam, just like most similar helmets. The only problem is that the foam sticks out under the bottom of the shell, making it rather easy to damage. Granted, the foam is pretty tough and resilient, but if you set the helmet down on the foam, it won’t take long to notice the accumulating damage.
6. TuffRider Starter Horse Riding Safety Helmet
With two large vents on the front of the TuffRider starter horse-riding helmet, you’ll be able to keep cool on long rides. Thankfully, the vents are covered with stainless steel mesh, ensuring that there’s no reduction in safety for the ample ventilation. Still, this helmet is not ASTM certified, though it is SEI certified.
Dialing in your perfect fit is as easy as turning a dial. You will need to be careful with your sizing though. This helmet comes in sizes for adults and children alike, but each size spans only about 0.25 inches. Luckily, you can wear this helmet with a ponytail, so it’s great for those with long hair.
7. Tipperary Sportage Western Riding Helmet
If you’re a fan of aggressive styling on your riding helmet, then you might be attracted to the Tipperary Sportage western riding helmet. The styling of this helmet is so aggressive that it looks more like an extreme sports helmet that you might see in skateboarding or BMX today. But this helmet is for horse riding, and it’s made of carbon for a lightweight helmet with plenty of protection. To that end, it’s both ASTM and SEI certified.
All of that aggressive styling makes plenty of pockets for vents, offering loads of ventilation. You’re giving up the comfort of fit to achieve this, though. While this helmet offers aesthetics, it doesn’t offer a great fit. There’s no adjustability, and the overall design doesn’t wear comfortably. Despite this, it’s pricier than many of the other helmets on this list.
We think you’re probably better off saving your money and getting something more comfortable. After all, you’ll be wearing it for many hours. If your helmet’s not comfortable, your rides won’t be as enjoyable.
8. One K Defender Suede Helmet
The One K Defender suede helmet is a premium product, there’s no doubt about it. It’s extremely expensive; one of the priciest options on this list. For the price, you’ll get some great features, such as an anti-microbial quick-dry liner or the ABS composite outer shell that protects your head. But in our minds, that doesn’t justify this outrageous price. You could have several helmets from other brands for the price of a single One K Defender.
But our qualms with this helmet don’t end at the exorbitant price. While many cheaper helmets offer some adjustability for a more comfortable fit, this very expensive helmet does not. You need to order the exact right size, which requires careful measurement and combing through size charts. The helmet has no adjustability, so even if you get the right size, you can’t tweak it to get a more comfortable fit. For the price, we think this helmet is a disappointment, and it’s not one we’d recommend.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Horse Riding Helmet
As you can see, there’s certainly no shortage of options when it comes to horse-riding helmets. There are plenty here to pick from. The question is, how do you compare them? What makes one helmet superior to another? Why would one helmet be a better choice than any other?
If you’re having trouble answering these questions, we aim to help clarify them in this buyer’s guide. We’re going to discuss the most important features and functions that you need to be considering when comparing different models. Hopefully, by the end of this buyer’s guide, you’ll feel better equipped to make the choice.
Sizing and Adjustability
No matter how great your helmet is, if it doesn’t fit you correctly, it won’t provide a good experience. Your helmet must fit snugly without being too tight. It shouldn’t move at any point, but it also shouldn’t be giving you a headache. While managing a tight fit, it must also be comfortable, or you won’t want to wear it.
Some helmets offer great adjustability; most commonly in the form of an adjustment dial that tightens or loosens the helmet when you turn it. Other helmets, even very pricey ones, don’t offer any adjustability. With these helmets, it’s vital that you order the right size, or you won’t get a good fit. Make sure to measure your head carefully before ordering. Even with the right size helmet, if you have no adjustability, you may never get that perfect fit.
Horse riding generally takes place outside. While you might have some cool months to ride, most of us will have to deal with riding in some rather warm weather eventually. The heat shouldn’t stop you from riding, but it can definitely make you uncomfortable. Proper ventilation in your helmet can go a long way towards improving your comfort on warm rides. Multiple vents will provide ample airflow to keep your head cool, so look for a helmet with plenty of ventilation.
At the end of the day, the most important factor for any helmet is safety since you’re wearing it to protect your head. Two main governing bodies oversee safety certifications, which are the ASTM and SEI. Great helmets are generally certified by both. If a helmet is only certified by one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a poor helmet, but we generally feel safer if both certifications are listed. Some of the best helmets even get certified by bodies overseas, such as CE certification to European EN standards.
Even though safety is of primary importance, you still don’t want to look foolish in your helmet! While most riding helmets look just fine, they’re usually pretty plain and boring. Still, some helmets come in multiple colors and designs, allowing you to express yourself in a different way. If that’s important to you, then you might look for a helmet that offers these extra design options.
Finding suitable riding helmets isn’t the hard part; there are many suitable candidates. The difficult thing is to sort through them and decide on one to purchase! Hopefully, our reviews have helped. To keep them fresh in your mind, we’re going to quickly summarize our recommendations once more.
The Ovation Schooler deluxe riding helmet is our top pick overall. It features a removable breakaway visor and a removable and washable liner in a lightweight, breathable design with a simple dial adjustment for a snug and comfortable fit.
If you’re searching for the best value, we think you’ll find it in the Troxel Sport horseback riding helmet. Despite its low price, it features a removable and washable headliner in a very breathable design that has earned both ASTM and SEI certifications.
And if you’re dead-serious about your riding and don’t mind shelling out the extra cash for a truly premium riding helmet, then we recommend the IRH 4G helmet. It features interchangeable liners that are moisture-wicking and machine washable. These liners allow you to create a custom fit, making this one of the most comfortable and form-fitting riding helmets you’ll find.
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Featured image credit: clarencealford, Pixabay