Having the right safety gear plays an important role in feeling confident around horses and when riding. Accidents can happen at any time and having the correctly fitted safety wear can help prevent or lessen injuries. The most important piece of safety kit advice is purchasing a correctly fitted riding hat that meets one of the current safety standards and which has undergone rigorous testing. With this is mind we spoke to our supporters Champion who offered us some excellent advice on ensuring your hat is the best and therefore safest possible fit which is applicable to almost all hat brands.
If you ever needed reminding of the importance of a correctly fitted, up to standard hat take a ready of our article ‘a boring post that might just save your life’
There are four main areas of testing for riding hats/skulls to ensure they meet the performance criteria laid down in current standards. These are penetration testing, crush testing, impact testing and harness strength and stability testing. In addition, a credited British Kitemark can be obtained through regular batch testing. A Champion hat is tested every day of the year by The British Standards Institute.
Guide to fitting your riding hat
First it is important to assess your riding hat requirements and when/where you will want to use it, as this will determine whether a skull hat or riding hat would be more suitable for you. In addition, consider which Standard of hat is accepted by any riding association which may govern any competition discipline or riding establishment with which you are involved.
Your trained fitter will measure the fullest part of your head with a tape measure and may refer to a size chart in order to get your converted hat/skull size. The hat/skull is then fitted by rolling it onto your head from the front to back, placing it in the correct position approximately 12-15mm above the eyebrows.
It is important to be aware that the hat/skull may feel more snug than your current hat because over time the foam may have compacted and made it looser than a brand new one.
You should be able to feel the top of the hat on the crown of your head. If not, then the hat/skull may be too small or an incorrect shape.
Hats are made in different shapes to fit all manner of shapes of head as not everyone has the same shaped head even though they may have the same raw head measurement.
It is equally important to assess head shape and select the correct shaped hat as it is the correct sized hat, when the hat shape matches the head shape perfectly a nice snug all round fit can be achieved without gaps occurring at either the back and front or at the sides. Only occasionally should it be necessary to use any additional fitting tape and when required should be used sparingly. Heavy usage would suggest a hat which is either too large or an incorrect shape for your head.
Champion have a range of hat shapes across their available models, if one Champion hat appears to be the wrong shaped hat for your head then do try another Champion style. It is no longer the case that “one is a Champion shape” we pride ourselves on providing a range of hats suitable for all rider’s head shapes!
Once you are satisfied with the size and shape of your hat fasten and adjust the harness under the chin as tightly as possible, (without causing too much discomfort)! this is to prevent any slackness in the harness which will ensure your hat remains stable on the head in an accident situation.
Finally try to nudge the hat from front to back and from back to front assuring that the hat does not tip one way or the other more than a few millimetres, if the hat comes down over your eyes the hat is either too big in size or the harness is too large for your face, recheck that it is fastened as tightly as possible to prevent this.
There are many different mould shapes used for producing riding hats and skull hats and if you are struggling to find one that fits comfortably try another style or alternative brand.
Caring for your Riding hat
It is very important to take care of your riding hat to ensure it can offer you the maximum level of protection over its lifetime. Dropping the hat, or allowing it to roll around in the car etc can cause damage. This damage may not be visible on the outside but could have caused damage to the shock absorbing polystyrene liner.
Your riding hat should be stored in a cool environment and not be exposed to direct heat for drying or placed in direct sunlight under glass such as the back shelf of the car. This is because heating your hat to 70 degrees centigrade and above will break down the protective materials used in construction of your riding hat, especially the polystyrene liner, this will gradually reduce the level of protection it offers. A protective hat bag is the ideal way to store your hat when not being used to ensure the right conditions are maintained and to provide cushioned protection.
Champion has a tremendous safety heritage and the brand has been a driving force in the design and development of protective riding hats for over three decades. Over this time, design and production technology has been refined, enhanced and perfected to ensure Champion products are based upon the most up-to-date, scientific safety research. To view the full range of Champion riding hats visit www.championhats.co.uk