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We have a student who has a head size of 7 3/4 and I have not been able to find a helmet for him. Any ideas? Do you have a set of standards that a helmet should meet? If so, can you let me know? Maybe I can find a helmet for another sport that will work. Thank you.

Susan – Ojai, CA


CHA has been doing research to find the largest helmets. The largest we have discovered so far is the Lidlocker large, which goes up to 7 3/4. This seems to be the largest helmet on the market. I consulted with a large program member in Denver who serves a lot of African American children, who sometimes require large helmets due to their hairstyle, and the Lidlocker large is their helmet of choice. You can order them from CHA either on our website, www.CHA-ahse.org or by calling (800) 399-0138.

Any helmet used in an equestrian program must be an ASTM-SEI approved equestrian helmet. Other types of helmets are unacceptable as the SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) tests safety equipment specifically for the intended use and equestrian use has a higher standard than say, for instance, a bike helmet.

There are a few states and municipalities that legislate the use of helmets: New York, some localities in Florida and also in Ontario, Canada. It is important for you to know and abide by the laws in your area. CHA standards recommend the use of helmets for all riders, especially those under 18 years of age and anyone jumping. The only activity where helmets are discouraged is in vaulting, which is done in a controlled environment and it has been shown to pose a greater risk for vaulters to wear a helmet because the extra weight on the vaulter’s head may affect their balance and because of the propensity to get the helmet hung up on other equipment.

Furthermore, you have an obligation to make sure the helmet is properly fitted to the rider’s head, especially if you are providing the helmet. With the Lidlocker (the most popular helmet with group riding programs because they are easy to fit to a wide range of heads), you’ll need to unfasten the side cinch straps, and then place on the rider’s head. Make sure the brim is level with the ground and the helmet is not sitting back on the rider’s head; the helmet should be snug even before it is fastened. Fasten the chinstrap snugly and then tighten the side straps to get a snug fit.

You’ll know if a helmet is properly fitted to the rider if you put your hand on top of the helmet and rock it back and forth. This should move the rider’s entire scalp, lifting his eyebrows up and down, not sloshing around on the head. Also, make sure the slides on the chinstrap come up to the rider’s ears. In an equestrian helmet, there should be straps on both sides of the ears, coming together like a ‘V’ right at the bottom of the ear. This helps ensure the helmet stays on the head in the event of a fall. These adjustable slides frequently will slide down toward the buckle of the chinstrap and must be repositioned periodically. Finally, if the helmet has a tie in the back part of the harness, make sure the tie is there and fastened. Most new helmets no longer have a tie here, but instead have one solid piece that will not come untied.

It has been suggested by the helmet manufacturers that helmets should be replaced every five years. Inside the helmet there should be sticker that indicates the date of manufacture. Not all helmets receive enough use to require replacement every five years, especially if they are stored inside out of the elements. However, helmets should be inspected regularly and replaced when cracks appear in the protective outer shell or when the harness frays.