There's a few different brands of horse riding helmets available in Australia and their main purpose is to protect the everything inside (and including) your skull. But what else do these riding helmets have to offer? When selecting a helmet, it's important for each rider to understand the safety ratings, however, there are also other considerations that may affect your decisions when purchasing a new horse riding helmet.
Standard & Marks
All helmet manufacturers have to produce helmets to comply with at least one of three international standards or marks, primarily PAS015:2011 (BSI Kitemarked), VG1 01.040 2014-12 (with or without BSI Kitemark) and ASTM F1163:2015 (SEI marked).
What Do These "Standards" Mean?
In Australia, all equestrian helmets must conform with one or more of the approved safety standards, as advised by Equestrian Australia (in 2017).
If your helmet is approved EN1384 (which is an old standard no longer approved by Equestrian Australia), but is also approved under another standard, ie PAS015, ASTM F1163, VG1, etc. then your helmet is acceptable for competition.
Current and new standards acceptable in Australia as as follows:
- AS/NZS 3838 is an Australian standard, generally used for helmets manufactured by Australian companies.
- SNELL E2001 and ATSM F1163 are current American standards.
- PAS 015 and VG1 are respectively, British and European standards. Note: VG1 is currently an interim standard.
- ARB HS 2012 is a new Australian Racing Board standard which conforms to one or more of the above standards, and has also had a minor amendment to the anvil impact test in relation to the positioning of the helmet.
What Do These “Marks” Mean?
These "marks" indicate that the company complies with rigorous system of further regulation and testing. The Kitemark also requires an unrestricted access to the factories to allow for random testing and auditing. They represent voluntary safety certifications that are additional to the compulsory standards.
- SAI Global is a company that provides a ‘Five Ticks’ Standards Mark™ on a product and is an independent assurance to the customer that the organization has undergone a rigorous audit and testing program.
- SEI is an independent testing laboratory that tests the helmets to ensure that they meet the standard set forth by the ASTM.
- ATSM formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.
- BSI is the British Standards Institute and owner of BSI Kitemark certification which has one of the widest testing and certification capabilities in the world.
What Are The Best Horse Riding Helmet Brands Available In Australia?
In terms of safety, how do the safety ratings compare with the most popular helmet brands available in Australia, and what other considerations could be taken into account when purchasing a good helmet?
We've researched some of the top brands available on The Equestrian as follows.
Charles Owen are worn by Charlotte Dujardin, who is a fabulous ambassador for these horse riding helmets which are deeply ingrained within the global equestrian industry as a trusted brand known for safety, quality and prestige fashion.
Charles Owen's mission is to provide safety helmets with new cutting edge materials and technology.
The Charles Owen range offers classic high quality helmets specifically designed for relevant disciplines. For Showing and Dressage, the FIAN or the AYR8 (which is also customizable) are popular. If you're into Eventing or Horse Racing the AYR8 and 4Star are recommended, while the SP8 is a popular Show Jumping helmet. There are a few different designs available with leather look, suede and fancy highlights.
Nearly all of the Charles Owen helmets meet three of the international equestrian safety standards and offer a 12 month warranty.
All Gatehouse helmets meet at least one or more of the international equestrian safety standards. In addition, the HS1 and HS1-V helmets also meet the SNELL E2016 standard - which is a more extreme standard for riders looking for the upmost protection, which is why this model is so hugely popular in Eventing, horse racing and other similar disciplines.
The Gatehouse range offers metallic, suedette and matt options which are stylish, comfortable and suitable for both training and competition.
Based in Italy, KASK manufacture helmets for cycling, downhill skiing, ski touring, mountaineering, climbing, rescue or work safety and of course equestrian. KASK offers technological excellence, functionality, excellent safety, sheer quality of the materials and unique elegance in their presentation.
KASK helmets are passed through the most rigorous safety and quality tests of the KASK’s distinctive Comfort Safety Design Project.
All KASK’s exclusive designs and product features implemented in the helmet collections are absolutely innovative, proprietary and protected by numerous patents, as well as meeting the international VG1 01.040 2014-12 and ASTM F1163 with SEI mark standards.
KASK horse riding helmets have become very popular for both dressage riders and show jumpers. They offer ergonomic comfort and ventilation, combining the greatest level of protection with the lightest possible mass of the helmet. KASK also have a 2 year warranty.
Lami-Cell are based in Belgium and provide stylish riding helmets, with an adjustable head band and changeable comfort lining. The Aramis and Artemis helmets are both approved for the European standard VG1 label, and great for everyday training as well as pony club.
KEP Italia provide modern helmets designed with carefully selected materials to guarantee the highest quality standards.
KEP riding helmets provide maximum fit with maximum protection. With the internal padding and five anchor chin strap, your comfort and safety is assured. The flexible visor is one of the important safety features, as in the event of a fall, the elasticity of the visor limits the absorption of impact on the head.
KEP helmets meet the European Certification VG1 standard and the ASTM F1163 / 2015 and also complies with the requirements of the international ISO 9001:2015 standard.
KEP riding helmets are equipped with a removable and washable internal lining and are available with different Cromo finishes including shine, polish, smart, metal, textile and Grill highlights.
Samshield originates from France and has been born from a passion to always propose advanced products in terms of active and passive security, comfort, hygiene, material and finish quality as well as customization.
Samshield horse riding helmets are popular for dressage, show jumping, eventing and horse racing.
The Samshield helmet range offers the Shadowmatt, Premium, Miss Shield and XJ designs which meet the CE EN1384 (Europe) and ASTM/SEI F1163-15 (North and South America) standards. Samshield also works with the CRITT (a French certified laboratory renowned for being the most demanding in the world) to ensure that all its products respect these standards.
Samshield have a variety of finishes including matt, shiny, alcantara, chrome plus Swarovksi crystals highlights and other options available to create your own individual look.
The warranty period for Samshield is 1 year, and Samshield also offer helmet testing system if you are involved in a fall and are unsure if your helmet has been compromised.
When purchasing a new horse riding helmet, it is the rider’s responsibility to ensure that the helmet meets the approved safety standard. Before purchasing a helmet, you should also check the manufacture date of the helmet to ensure that it hasn't been sitting on the shelves for years. This information is usually displayed on the inside of the helmet.
If you are planning on competing at an EA event, Equestrian Australia have introduced a helmet tagging system whereby competitive riders must have their helmet inspected for compliance with the minimum safety standards rules.
Helmet tagging days are currently being organized by Equestrian Australia and helmet tagging will become mandatory for all EA Affiliated Jumping events from 1 January 2022.
It is generally recommended that you should replace your helmet every 5 years, due to general wear and tear, but also because the protective capacity diminishes over time due to the ageing of materials.
If you have a hard-blow impact accident while wearing your helmet, it is recommended to immediately replace it, as there may be damage to the helmet that is not visible to the naked eye.
Safety is first and foremost, but the preference for the "Best Horse Riding Helmet" will come down to each individual rider - consideration for their own budget, comfort (how the helmet sits on the head, ventilation, chin strap), the shape and presentation (classic designs vs extravagant highlights), and versatility eg the KASK, KEP, and Samshield helmets all have removable inner linings, while Gatehouse helmets have fun helmet covers.
There are many horse riding helmets available in Australia, so don't hesitate to contact your local saddlery shop to find your best horse riding helmet to suit your discipline!