Riding helmets – necessary safety kit or a nuisance? A study carried out by nurse scientist Ansley Grimes Stanfill showed an alarming number of equestrians are happier going without


When was the last time you thought about replacing your riding hat? Following a recent survey, results concluded that one in four riders across the globe still don’t wear a riding hat while on a horse – and even those who do are failing to look after their hats properly and don’t replace them frequently enough either.


Ansley Grimes Stanfill, PhD, RN, a nurse scientist and professor from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, conducted the survey after witnessing a lack of correct helmet usage across the span of her lifelong riding career. Her online survey gathered 2,598 responses from anonymous adult riders around the world, but only 75% claimed to always wear a hat when riding.


Of the riders who didn’t wear helmets, 57% of them claimed they weren’t necessary and 49% found that they don’t fit well. Results also showed that too many riders wear helmets that are too old or damaged to offer adequate protection.


“Chin straps flapping, helmets tilted too far back or forward, or people dropping them and putting them back on are just some examples of ill practice,” says Ansley. She believes more riders could be encouraged to wear helmets more often through better communication about safety – and by professional riders setting an example by wearing theirs. 


“Helmets should be replaced every five years,” she says, though this is a helmet’s maximum useful lifespan. “It’s not just a marketing scheme. The outer shell might look pristine, but the inner shock absorbers break down over time, even though we can’t see the wear.” To help her remember when her riding hat needs replacing, Ansley writes the purchase date inside her helmets, and encourages other riders to do the same.


The study was first published in the 14 December 2020 edition of Concussion. Click here (link:  https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/10.2217/cnc-2020-0019) for more information

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