The debate about whether Barrel Racers and Western Style riders should wear helmets seems to be never ending. On one side people believe that helmets are not part of the culture of Western riding and that they do not need one. On the other side people feel that helmets are worthwhile as they are likely to save many riders lives.
A number of high profile fatalities in recent years have raised the profile of the debate even further. In 2016 the 27 year old Professional barrel racer Lara Dewees died in a tragic accident during a rodeo in Mississippi. Since then there have been a number of initiates to tackle the stigma of wearing helmets in Western Riding. There are also a number of events that require helmets for all or certain ages of riders.
Helmet company Troxel dominate the market with products designed for riders of all disciplines. In recent years they have collaborated with World Champion Barrel Racer, Fallon Taylor to design a fashionable riding helmet boasting bright western graphics. These helmets have become popular with many young female riders in particular.
Whatever your opinion on helmets there is no doubt that helmets are here to stay and that more and more riders are wearing them every year. Many parents also insist that their children wear helmets while riding. This means that there is a whole generation of riders coming up who have always worn a helmet and who would feel strange without one.
There are many different types of riding helmet depending on what type of riding you do. For example an experienced barrel racer has different requirements to someone looking for a helmet for trail riding or someone who is just starting out. To help youfind the best riding helmet we have selected the best helmet in each of the categories below.
Best Sport Riding Helmet
Equestrian sports can be very dangerous. Even the most experienced riders are guaranteed to fall at some stage. When you fall you hope to be able to tumble in a way that avoids any impact to your head but sometimes you cannot avoid it. Having a good sport helmet can help reduce the risk of serious head trauma. Tipperary Equestrian USA have been making protective equestrian equipment for over 30 years and their sport helmet is one of the most popular in the world.
The Sportage helmet is made from a tough hard plastic with a comfortable foam interior. Foam padding in helmets can sometimes make you very warm but thankfully the Tipperary Sport Helmet has top and rear vents for high temperature relief.
The helmet is a low profile design that has aerodynamic cuts in the hard exterior which distinguishes it as a sport helmet. It also has rear reflective strip and a flexible visor which can come in handy in many different equestrian sports. The low profile design protects the occipital bone which is just above the neck at the base of your skull. This extra protection is great as equestrian sports such as barell racing can be very high risk and we need more than the crown of the head protected.
The price of the helmet is reasonable considering that is extremely well made and durable and will likely last you a number of years.
Best Value Riding Helmet
Many riders who refuse to wear helmets do so because they are worried that they may negatively affect their performance. However this argument is silly as nearly all helmets are lightweight and are designed to be aerodynamic in shape.
The Spirit by Troxel Helmet is a perfect helmet for experienced and novice riders alike. It provides deep full coverage that is comfortable while still being secure. Troxel have a detailed sizing chart so that you can find the correct helmet for your head. The helmet also has an easy to use dial that makes it easy to secure the chinstrap. In terms of style this helmet comes in a range of colors that cater for all tastes.
From reading other reviews the helmet seems to be a very popular choice for young novice riders with the XS size. There choice of colors will also appeal to younger riders
The helmet is very competitively priced too which is great. This may appeal to people who occasionally wear a helmet and who are reluctant to spend a large amount on a high spec helmet from which they will not get much use.
Overall this is an excellent helmet that will meet most riders needs without breaking the bank.
Best for Trail Riding
Trail Riding is often done at a slower pace than many other equestrian activities. However, riders should always exercise the same degree of caution. Unfamiliar terrain, poor lighting, inexperienced riders, and poor weather are just some of the factors that can lead to a fall or injury. Trails are often undertaken on rocky and uneven terrain which further increase the risk of head injury.
Most of the other helmets on this list could be used for trail riding. However trail riding is also about have the look and the Troxel Sierra has captured this perfectly. It fits perfectly with other western tack and is also cool and comfortable to wear. It has a rugged nylon and leather finish with comfortable leather retention straps that hold the helmet in place. It is easy to clean thanks to the removal headliner.
The price is fair and is cheaper than most similar helmets in retail stores. The perfect helmet to keep you safe on the trail.
Best Cowboy Safety Helmet
Without a doubt the cowboy hat is a significant part of western riding culture. The hat is a symbol of western riding and is part of the cowboy lifestyle. This is one of the major reasons why so many riders are reluctant to ditch it in favor for a English style equestrian helmet. The Resistol Ridesafe hat is a compromise between the cowboy hat and the riding helmet associated with English style riding.
The best thing about this product is that it actually does provide real protection. It is ASTM/SEI certified and provides a similar level of protection to many popular English style equestrian helmets. In terms of fit the hat comes in sizes XXS to L so there should be a fit for everyone. The hat is secured to the head with a chin strap with a sizing dial that lets you adjust to your desired fit. The felt part of the hat has a nice feel and does a good job keeping the sun out of your eyes too!
The Resistol Ridesafe helmet is a relatively new arrival in the western horse world but has already become popular with some riders. World Champion Jake Barnes has been pictured wearing one after he suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling off a horse during practice.
Best Schooling Riding Helmet
A good helmet is essential if you are just starting out learning to ride. For many parents the wearing of a helmet is often non-negotiable when learning and may even be a requirement of the riding school. When it comes to kids the wearing of a helmet is hard to argue against and luckily for you there is lots of decent helmets at reasonable prices on the market.
The Ovation Schooler is one of the best. It is perfect for kids, teenagers, and adults alike and is approved to all ASTM or SEI ASTM standards. This helmet is popular with novice female riders but is suitable for both boys and girls. In terms of fitting the helmet is not sized by gender, instead offering a range of sizes from XXS to L to fit every head type. It also has an easy adjust dial to ensure a snug fit. It comes in a range of colors which is always a nice option to have.
I also like the fact that the helmet has a removable visor. This makes is much more versatile as it does not look out of place if used for biking, rollerblading, or skateboarding. This makes it good value. In terms of cleaning the helmet also has a removable washable liner which ensures it doesn’t get too stinky, especially in warm weather.
The helmet feels sturdy despite being quite lightweight. Crucially it has a low profile which ensures that the lower part of the back of the head is protected in case of a fall.
Overall an excellent helmet for novice riders that provides good value for money.