Riding helmets are a super important piece of equipment for any equestrian. No matter your skill level or discipline, helmets help keep you safe. We are riding 1,000-pound animals that are unpredictable, we need to take every safety precaution possible!

Tali, whose story you can read below, said her helmet literally saved her life. 

So, what should you look for in a helmet? Typically, I like to look for these four certifications when it comes to equestrian helmets. To earn each certificate the helmet must meet certain criteria.

  • CE certification
  • ISO certification
  • ASTM certification
  • SEI certification

You may also want to see if the helmet has the MIPS safety system which helps prevent rotational force on your head in the event of a fall.

helmet types

There are tons of different helmet brands, looks, and accessories out there. The helmet you choose will probably depend mostly on what fits you the best, the discipline you usually ride in, and your preferences.

Outside of safety features of a helmet, you may also want to also consider if the helmet has a removable helmet liner, if the helmet liner is washable, the type of ventilation system, if the company has a replacement program, and whether the helmet has a regular or wide brim.

In terms of looks, there is a huge range when it comes to horseback riding helmets.

You can get:

  • A matte look which is more of a flat color appearance which is a popular look and usually easy to care for
  • A shiny/glossy helmet look where your helmet almost looks polished these are nice and usually safe in the rain
  • A leather-look which is just what it sounds like and while it looks nice you do have to be careful in the rain
  • Suede which has a soft fabric look/feel and while it can look pretty it can be hard to clean and lead to the fabric wrinkling if it gets wet
  • Or a combination of the materials

I would say that matte is the most common in the English world, while suede is most common in western.

Skull caps which you see frequently in eventing are typically a matte helmet with a silk helmet cover that has a brim in it.

Beyond the finish of a helmet, many brands also include designs in Swarovski crystals or can do custom piping colors on your helmet.

Plus helmets are no longer bound to just the black color. Many helmets come in navy blue or brown. Piping and design work comes in all different colors as well and some companies offer their helmets in different color hardware such as rose gold, gold, or silver.



Troxel helmets are good quality helmets at a great price and are often adjustable. The wide range of looks available combined with the price, quality, and adjustability makes these helmets popular with those that are new to riding or those that just need a helmet for the occasional ride. held a giveaway sponsored by Troxel and the winner, Heather, had this to say about the Troxel helmet: 

"This is probably one of the most comfortable helmets I have gotten from Troxel. It fits nicely and is super cool looking. I love how almost all of the Troxel helmets, if you put your hair in a low pony tail, let your hair fit through the slat in the back. The vents are evenly placed and work great. There is a reason Troxel is one of the number 1 helmet makers these people have it down to a T. Way to go Troxel on another great product!"

Charles Owen

Charles Owen helmets are very popular but more expensive than others. Besides the fact that they make good quality skull caps and helmets, they offer a wide range of looks/designs and have helmets made specifically for oval or round head shapes.


This brand seems to be very popular among hunter riders. These helmets come in a huge range of looks and colors, plus you can get a custom Swarvoski crystal design. Naturally, these helmets do tend to be on the expensive side.


International Riding Helmets are a great brand (this was my first show helmet growing up). Helmets from this company tend to be affordable (think in between Troxel and Charles Owen) while also looking nice enough for the show ring.

One K

A newer brand of helmet the One K is already pretty popular. Those I have talked to tend to like the fact that it looks like a higher-end helmet with a lower price tag. Plus they seem to do lot with rose gold chrome.


Another brand that is newer to the helmet scene is Kask. These helmets offer lots of design choices and a pretty good price tag.


It may just be me but for a long time I remember GPA and Charles Owen being the two big names when it came to high-end riding helmets. Today they both have a lot more competition, but you will still definitely see professional riders with their GPA helmets.

Trauma Void

Back On Track is the maker of the Trauma Void helmet. This was one of the first riding helmets to have MIPS technology. This helmet is very popular among the safety-conscious that don’t want to spend a small fortune on a riding helmet.


You'll find helmets in classic navy blue, UltraSuede finishes, blingy sparkle or bold colors in the Tipprerary line. It offers Mips in two of its helmet collections. 


A popular and affordable brand, Ovation offers a range of helmets in different colors and styles; some with Mips. I like the variety of colors in the schooler helmets. 


Made in Italy, KEP focuses heavily on safety and goes in depth into the safety measures behind their helmets. For example, they explain that they make the back of the helmet longer than most other riding helmets, to protect a wider portion of the nape and neck in the event of a fall. They have several safety certifications including ISO 9001, American and Canadian SEI certification, and European CE certification. 

Many of these brands fit differently and carry different looks and styles so it is a good idea to go to a retailer where you can try on a few different brands and sizes.


Once you get your new helmet you should read how to care for it on the manufacturer’s site. It could be as simply wiping it down with a wet rag or a more detailed explanation of how to brush it. You may want to consider getting a helmet cover, especially a waterproof one if you are worried about the material on your helmet getting sunbleached or wet. when riding and a helmet bag for storing your helmet. A helmet cover may impede airflow though so be careful.

Don’t forget about the inside of your helmet either. If your helmet liner isn’t removable or washable you may want to invest in a spray to clean your helmet liner.


Horseback riding helmets aren’t the only way to keep yourself safe when riding.

It is important to remember always to wear: appropriate footwear around horses, long pants, and your hair in hairnet tucked up into your helmet (as long as it doesn’t affect helmet fit). You can also wear a vest when you ride as well.

While it use to be that you only really saw cross-country riders sporting vests when they rode many riders now understand that vests can help keep them safer in any riding situation.

There are two main types of vests for equestrians.

The first is body protectors which usually have pockets of foam while the other are riding vests (also known as air vests) that have air canisters that inflate when you begin to fall from the horse. These vests can also be certified, similar to how helmets can be. If you want your vest to be ASTM or SEI certified it is important to look into which vests carry what certifications and the requirements.

HorseCrazyGirls Tell Us Why They Wear Helmets held a competition sponsored by Troxel, who donated a helmet. We asked riders why they wear a riding helmet. Here's what they told us. 

Helmets for Safety by: cherokee.rain04

I used to not care about wearing a helmet (sometimes still don't) but I fell off my horse named Blue and hit my head on the ground and got a really bad headache and a bruise. I started (mostly) wearing a helmet.

Troxel Helmet by: Anonymous

My friend fell off a horse and got dragged fifty feet. I did not personally see this, but that's what she told me.

Why I Wear a Riding Helmet by: Laura

I love horses with all my heart! I ride all the time. I wear a riding helmet for safety and protection. Also, they are very stylish and beautiful.

Why I Wear a Helmet When Riding by: Brandon

I always make sure that me and my daughter wear a helmet when riding so that we are safe in case we have a fall. It keeps us from getting any kind of head injury.

Why I Wear a Riding Helmet by: Laura

I wear a riding helmet because they protect your head while riding. They also look stylish.

Why I Wear a Helmet? by: Lindsey

I wear a helmet because I have seen too many people injured from lack of protection. I may be able to control where a horse goes but I cannot control their fear. Fear is a driving force for a horse that can cause great harm to the rider. By wearing a helmet I add another security blanket and peace of mind... Especially for my mother.

Love by: S grey

Wearing a helmet has just become a part of riding. I love my horse but I love myself too! Never know what could happen.

Why I Wear A Helmet by: Chloe

I wear a helmet because a long time ago I fell off my horse and the helmet basically saved my life!

Definitely by: Amazing Rider

I think everybody should wear a helmet when they ride horses, bikes, and skateboards because you never know you could fall down. For example: you're riding your horse and you accidentally fall over and you don't wear your helmet there is a possibility of getting a bad injury.

Always Wear a Helmet by: Liana T

Why not? It's not very hard! It can save your lives! I ALWAYS wear a helmet as you should too!

Helmets by: Morgan S

I wear a helmet because I feel it is a necessity in order for you to be at your safest. I have known a lot of people who have ridden without helmets and gotten in serious accidents that have led to concussions. To be honest, I am the kind of person who likes safety and doesn't really like living on the dangerous side of life. I also wear a helmet because when my younger sister was younger, she fell off of a fire truck (long story) and broke her sinuses and was told that if she had a fall like that again, she would most likely die. I wear a helmet to show her that it is never bad to live on the safer side. Also, I wear a helmet because it makes me feel more secure.

33 Years by: Tali

Been riding over 33yrs. Always wear my Troxel helmets. Saved my life. I was riding on a dirt road and passing a horse pasture when one of the horses in the pasture ran up to the fence, stopped suddenly and flung mud out and over myself and my horse’s head across the road and some hit us as well. My gelding reared up and flipped over onto me. I remember my head hitting twice dead center in the back of my skull. My Troxel helmet was shattered from the impact at that exact location. This all happened within 5 seconds. I am not a novice rider, used to show pleasure in breed shows, trail riding in numerous states, and riding endurance. I would not be here today if I had not had that helmet on.

Why I Wear A Helmet by: Penelope M

Wearing a riding helmet not only ensures my safety but the safety of my horse. Should I have a serious fall, helmet protection would prevent a serious injury that could prevent me from taking care of my horse and spending time together!

Why I Ride With A Helmet by: Anonymous

I ride with a helmet because I'm pretty sure it's a law not only can they be stylish but they protect you from when you do fall off. Troxel is a really good company. I have a velveteen one that I use when I do show and a schooling helmet for trail rides.

Safety First by: Anonymous

My mom had a brain injury and insists I wear a helmet for my protection. She doesn't want me or anyone else to go through what she has been through.

Helmets Are A Life Saver Literally! by: Anne

Helmets are so important. I had a really bad accident once, if I hadn't worn a helmet I could have had a major brain injury. Wear a helmet!

Every Ride, Every Time by: Linz

You should never get on a horse without a helmet. It's just not worth the risk! Sure, they get hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, but would you rather be uncomfortable in a wheelchair?

Never Without :) by: Ilonka/The Cre8ive Chick

Grew up with horses, had a 12-year "baby break" before getting back into it in my 30s. Haven't ridden without a helmet since. People always ask when I'm finally going to trust my horses enough to take it off. The answer is never. It has zero to do with trust but things happen, horses trip, spook reasons to keep it on! Just rode my Friesian bareback and Bitless this morning - but with a helmet on my head.

Helmets are Important! by: Maddie

I was sitting on my horse bareback in an arena and out of nowhere he bolted and threw me into a fence. My head hit the fence 3 times on the way down and if it weren't for my helmet I could've gotten hurt really badly. Helmets are a very important thing and I would love to have this new helmet for showing this fall!

Helmets Rock! by: eventinglover

A day before my first show, a stubborn little pony named Phantom went nuts and threw me off. My instructor's helper was dragging a hose across the arena right as I was headed toward a cross rail. She accidentally moved the hose quickly, and Phantom jumped, did a crazy circle, and started galloping. He was going for the wall and I was falling off of the side the wall was about to be on, so I bailed. I fell on the side of my head, bounced a few times and then skidded to a stop like nothing had ever happened. I was so glad I had my helmet, without it, I might have hurt something. Phantom was a naughty horse, but he taught me a great lesson. Always wear a helmet!

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