10 Tips on Purchasing the Right Horse Riding Helmet For Children
Your child has shown an interest in learning to ride horses. You have done some research and have found out that a riding helmet is mandatory at most barns for all riders under 18 years of age. So where do you get a helmet that is appropriate, what size do you need, and will your toddler / child happily wear their horse riding helmet every time they ride. Here are 10 helpful tips to help make the selection process of horse riding helmet for children easier.
1. What type of riding will your child be doing?
As a new student many lessons start the same. You may specify English or Western but either way the child will be learning the basics along with safety. For a helmet finding one your child, especially a toddler, likes is key. So, for now find an all-purpose helmet.
2. Why do certifications matter?
Before you try any helmet on your child make sure the helmet is ASTM/SEI certified. The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) makes testing standards that manufacturers must meet. The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) is a non-profit organization that works with independent companies/labs that certify safety and protective products in the US and Canada. So make sure the helmets you are considering carry these certifications.
3. Get the Correct Size.
Many times when parents purchase things for kids the like to buy it a bit bigger, so they have growing room, but this is not one of those times. Make sure the helmet is the right size. To measure your child's head take a cloth measuring tape and go all the way around the head. Make sure tape is one to two fingers space above the eyebrow while measuring. Also see if your child's head has a round or oval shape that will also help when you're looking as many helmets come in round or oval then the size.
4. Hair Styles
It may be an odd thing to think about, but how your child wears their hair will impact the fit of the helmet. Discuss with your child some options for how they would like their hair on riding days. Ideal hair styles would be a low ponytail at the base of the head and neck, you can also make that one into a single braid down the center of their back. Another option would be a side braid or two braids one on each side. Keep in mind if you do French braids or any hairstyle that creates bulk, that will change how the helmet fits after purchase.
5. Price Range
Helmets can cost as little as $25.00 dollars up to and over $300.00 dollars. At this point in time there is no reason to purchase a helmet that could possibly break the bank, so look around the $40.00 — $60.00 dollar price range. If you purchase a low end helmet you may be running into items with fake ASTM/SEI certifications and low quality craftsmanship. The mid range helmets are great for kids first horse riding helmet, they are certified, made with quality materials and craftsmanship, and they have a good variety of colors to choose from. Although it may sound tempting to buy a used helmet, try to avoid doing so unless you know without a doubt it's never been worn during a fall and has been stored properly.
6. Trying Helmets on
Now that you have an idea of what size your child's head is go try some riding helmets on, if you have a local tack store this is preferred to ordering on line. Select a few styles and have your child try them on. Try both round and oval as they both fit the head differently and one will be more comfortable than the other. Many helmets these days have a sliding adjuster in the back that can create a looser or snugger fit. This is great for growing kids because you will get a bit longer use out of your purchase.
7. Shake Test
Without tightening the chin strap have your child move their head from side to side and up a down to see if they move, if the helmets fitting properly it won't be sliding around as they move their head. Also remember the brim/visor of the helmet needs to remain flat when worn. The helmet should not be worn on the back of the child head with forehead exposed and brim/visor pointing towards the sky. After shaking adjust the chin strap. This should fit softly under child's chin area.
8. Hot or Cold?
Depending on the area you live you may have drastic weather changes. It's important to have a well ventilated helmet so your child's head stays cool and they do not get overheated. Some styles have vents that open and close so you can choose the air flow. Others remain open all the time while others don't have any at all. Purchasing a helmet with good airflow will keep your child happy and if you have extreme winters purchase a helmet cover that way it will keep some warmth in during the cold months.
9. Let Them Pick
Now you have narrowed it down to a few choices let your toddler/child have the final say in which helmet they want. This will keep them wanting to wear it because it was something they got to pick not something they are forced to wear. If the tack store doesn't have the exact color or design your child wants take down the brand, style name and or number and find it online. Now that you know the fit purchasing online is ok because you won't be guessing.
10. After Care / Maintenance
Lastly after your purchase make sure to take good care of your helmet. Try to keep your helmet out of fluctuating hot to cold temperatures. This can compromise the structural integrity of the helmet. Please also remember if your child falls and hits anything with the helmet, purchasing a new one is highly suggested because the inner materials may be damaged. Even if the outer shell still looks fine there can still be significant damage inside. One last thing, remember to replace your helmet every five years, due to the natural breakdown of materials, or at any other time you feel the helmet is no longer going to protect you during a fall.
If you have any further questions regarding to find horse riding helmet for children, seeking advice from your current instructor or other equine professionals is the best place to get information from reliable sources. By the way, do not forget to combine your kid's helmet with a pair of well selected horse riding boots for your child.
Please feel free to send in any horse related questions you would like more information or help with, one of our equine specialists will be happy to address it in a upcoming article. Enjoy the ride!