We’ve put together this guide to help you find the best horse riding helmets for your type and style of riding.
Whether you are a happy hacker or a five-star eventer, buying your riding helmet is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you get it right, it could save your life.
While helmet safety should be your main concern, the type of riding you do is also a key consideration. High-risk sports, such as eventing, require the greatest level of protection and if you do compete, each governing body has its own riding hat rules.
Even within the disciplines, there are numerous competition rules and traditions to consider.
Note: riding hat competition rules tend to be reviewed annually. If in doubt, always opt for the safest helmet possible with multiple safety standards.
Riding hat competition rules
When jumping, including warming up, all competitors must wear a helmet that meets at least one of the following standards:
- British and European: PAS 015 or VG1, provided they are BSI Kitemarked
- American: SEI ASTM F116: 2004a onwards, or SNELL E2001, or SNELL E2016
- Australian and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2006
Best riding hats for showjumping
New for 2023, the Kylo is a pioneering helmet with dial-fit for adjustable precision sizing.
It’s available in navy and black with matte or gloss finish to really make you stand out in the ring.
Whilst being at an accessible price point, the Kylo is still incredibly safe and meets three international safety standards. MIPS can also be added.
Part of the new highly affordable EQx by Charles Owen range, the Kylo is worn by some of the most influential riders including Gemma Owen and Yasmin Ingham.
Kylo$145 – $185
One of the most stylish helmets in showjumping, the SP8 Plus is a favourite among many top and everyday riders, like YouTube star This Esme.
The specially designed peak doesn’t just flatter, it also shades the face, so no matter how bright the sun is, you always have a clear vision. Plus, it protects against harmful rays.
The SP8 will also help you keep a cool head thanks to its 10 (that’s right TEN!) ventilation slots and the Free Fit system, which increases airflow. The helmet can also be customised with trim or piping for that personal touch.
SP8 Plus$609 – $699
The halo Luxe (wide peak) is just as eye-catching as the standard peak, and provides great protection from the sun (and rain).
This style of peak is so hot right now in showjumping, but it also has safety benefits as its flexibility distributes energy on impact.
Another great safety feature when jumping is the option to add MIPS technology, an innovative liner than helps reduce injuries from rotational falls.
halo$549 – $629
When riding cross-country, you should wear a jockey skull with no peak or “peak type extensions”.
For dressage and showjumping phases you can wear a riding hat with a fixed peak or a skull hat with a hat cover, which should be in a “conservative colour”, such as black or navy.
Your helmet must comply with one of the following safety standards:
- British and European: PAS 015 or VG1, provided they carry the BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC mark
- American: ASTM F1163: 2004a onwards or SNELL E2001
- Australia and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2006, with the SAI Global mark
Best riding helmets for eventing
What better seal of approval for a cross-country helmet, than William Fox-Pitt and Boyd Martin?
The 4Star is the only helmet on the market to hold all four international safety certificates including SNELL, which is the highest performance standard.
Other features include a unique magnetic closure, so you can do the buckle up with one hand, the patented GRpx harness system for a secure fit, plus our Free Fit ventilation system and Coolmax mesh for the coolest ride yet.
MS1 Pro with MIPS
The MS1 Pro is our first jockey skull to incorporate MIPS technology (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), which protects the brain against rotational motion.
In addition, this helmet meets three international safety standards, so you know your head is fully protected when you set off from the start box.
The MS1 also features our generous ten ventilation slots and removable headband, so you can keep your helmet fresh and clean for the next event.
Overall, it offers great protection at an affordable price.
MS1 Pro with MIPS$249
Protective helmets for dressage must meet one of the following standards.
British and European: PAS 015 or VG1
European: VG1 or EN1384 -2017 (but only in conjunction with another standard from this list)
American: SNELL E2001 or E2016
Australian & New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2006
Hat covers must be in conservative colours and riding hats that are completely mirrored are not allowed.
Best riding hats for dressage
Bespoke My halo CX
Triple-gold Olympic medallist Charlotte Dujardin was one of the first dressage riders at the 2012 London Olympic Games to wear a helmet, rather than the traditional top hat.
Her helmet of choice is the elegant, My halo CX, which she has had customised to dazzle the dressage judges.
Fully customisable, this next-generation premium helmet is bespoke with multiple colour and texture combinations to match to your look.
Also available as the standard halo with stock colour combinations.
We also love halo’s slim low-profile styling, which gives the helmet a sleek, modern look.
However, halo isn’t all form and no function. It meets three safety standards (plus MIPS) and has 360 degree ventilation around the head, plus a removable and washable headband, so the helmet works as hard as you do.
My halo CX$599
Bespoke My Ayr8
Create a helmet as unique as you with the customisable My Ayr8.
The My Ayr8 offers hundreds of possible colour and material combinations.
So whether you want to stand out in the ring or match your tailcoat, there’s a design for everyone.
Loved for its protection, comfort and classic profile, the My Ayr8 meets three safety standards. The helmet is also fully ventilated and features a removable, washable headband.
The British Show Horse Association states riders must wear correctly secured helmets that meet one of the following safety standards:
- British and European: PAS 015 or VG1
- American: ASTM F1163: 2004a onwards or SNELL E2001
- Australia and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2003
Skullcaps must be worn with a dark coloured plain, peaked hat cover.
Best riding hats for showing
Looks matter in showing. This beautiful helmet is the closest thing you’ll get to the classic Patey, while meeting multiple safety standards.
The Fian is covered in luxurious velvet and trimmed to perfection, while its slim tan harness finishes off its elegant look.
Its traditional satin lining includes a draw lace, so you can ensure the helmet cradles your head.
Fian$399 – $420
This elegant helmet is perfect for showing, but it’s also one of the best helmets for hunting. It meets multiple safety standards, and ticks a number of boxes in the looks department, too.
Covered in plush velvet, the Hampton has a soft yet durable harness and a silky smooth satin lining. Its low profile means this hat won’t add extra unwanted height to young riders on small ponies!
The Hampton comes in a range of colours and is available in a round fit.
Hampton$399 – $420
While it’s not necessary to wear a ‘polo’ helmet, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) – the governing body for polo in the UK – states helmets must meet one of the following standards:
- British and European: PAS 015, or VG1, or EN1384: 2017
- American: SNELL E2001, or NOCSAE
Best riding helmets for polo
Polo is fast and furious, so you need to know you’ve got the best protection.
And they don’t come safer than the Sovereign Polo, which combines ground-breaking safety with traditional style.
Not only does it hold three international safety certificates, but it’s also one of only two polo helmets to meet America’s NOCSAE POLO safety standard. This independent, non-profit standards development body is the only organisation to have a certification specific to polo.
The Sovereign has a revolutionary Viconic Sporting impact liner, which absorbs energy from high and low-velocity impact, and a ‘spread tow’ carbon fibre outer shell, for increased crush and penetration resistance.
Under British Horse Racing rules, jockeys must wear a skull cap that complies with one of the following certified safety standards:
- British and European: PAS 015 or VG1
- American: SNELL E2001 or SNELL E2016
Best riding helmets for racing
The newest racing skull from Charles Owen has been designed by some of the biggest names in racing.
The strong fibreglass shell and padded harness have been adapted to ensure no interaction with the top of the body protector, a common issue in racing skull helmets.
New innovative fabrics have also been used along with a more ergonomic fit developed in the harness padding to give you the most comfortable ride yet.
MS1 Pro with MIPS
Another great jockey skull in the Charles Owen range, is the MS1 Pro. Its affordable price point belies its bevvy of safety features.
This triple-certified helmet also harnesses MIPS technology, which can reduce brain shear in riding accidents at speed.
When you fall and hit your head, you generally fall at an angle. This impact can transfer to your brain and causes severe injury. MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) can reduce the rotational motion and therefore reduce the risk of brain damage.
The MS1 also features a generous ten ventilation slots, as well as a removable headband, so you can keep your helmet fresh and clean.
This popular racing helmet available in regular and round fit to reduce pressure points and improve fit.
MS1 Pro with MIPS$249
The Pony Club have the same helmet rules as British Eventing. It’s also the same for the British Riding Club, which means one hat tag is accepted across all three organisations’ events.
The accepted helmet standards are:
- British and European: PAS 015 or VG1, both must have the BSI Kitemark
- American: ASTM F1163: 2004a onwards (with the SEI mark), or SNELL E2001 onwards
- Australia and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2006 onwards
For cross-country riding (over 80cm), pony racing and mounted games, a jockey skull cap must be worn with no fixed peak or peak type extensions. Noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front should not be greater than 5mm.
The Pony Club also “strongly recommends” that a jockey skull cap is worn for cross-country riding over fences less than 80cm.
Best riding helmets for kids
YR8 (jR8 in the USA)
The kids YR8 is the perfect riding helmet for a range of Pony Club activities. It meets multiple safety standards and is covered in a smart microfibre suede.
Its adjustable nylon harness ensures a secure fit, while its four discreet ventilation holes keep young heads cool and comfortable. It also comes with an SOS card for writing essential medical information.
The YR8 comes in a choice of colours and is also available as the YR8 Sparkly
Young Rider’s Jockey
This affordable helmet has been officially approved by the Pony Club, thanks to its triple-standard protection.
The Young Rider’s Jockey has a deep fit for added protection and is made from fibre glass, which has similar safety benefits to MIPS.
It features eight ventilation holes and comes with a free breathable silk.
There is an SOS card for all your medical info and it comes in regular or round fit.
Young Rider’s Jockey$120
Just because there isn’t a governing body checking your helmet before you hack out, doesn’t mean you should ignore safety standards.
There are three main international equestrian standards to look for:
- PAS 015:2011 with BSI Kitemark
- VG1 01.040 2014-12 with BSI Kitemark
- ASTM F1163-15 with SEI Kitemark
As a bare minimum you should have one of these, but always try and choose a helmet that meets multiple standards as they test and protect against very different accident scenarios.
Best riding hats for hacking
My PS with MIPS
The My PS is truly a modern, innovative riding helmet. It meets three international equestrian safety standards, plus MIPS technology which provides further protection to the brain.
Its outer shell is made of high impact ABS plastic, but it maintains the elegant look of a Charles Owen helmet.
As well as protection, we know you want comfort when hacking. The ten ventilation slots and six-point leather look harness with GRpx technology, ensures a cool, comfy head no matter how long you’re in the saddle.
What’s more, it’s available in regular and round fit to reduce pressure points and improve fit, so you can wear it for longer without those helmet headaches.
My PS with MIPS$319
We would never suggest choosing a helmet based on cost – after all, you can’t put a price on your safety. But we also understand that budget is often a consideration and you won’t find a safer helmet at a better price than the JS1 Pro.
For around £100 the JS1 Pro features three safety standards and an impact-resistant ABS outer shell, plus a leather harness and deep fit for added security.
You also need comfort when hacking, which is why we’ve put suede padding under the chin and ensured the helmet is lightweight and breathable, thanks to its ten ventilation slots.
It’s also available in a round or regular fit, to avoid pressure points, so you can relax and enjoy your riding.
Best selling riding hats
Riders choose Charles Owen for the highest safety standards, technological innovation, style and comfort.
These best selling riding helmets are worn for a variety of disciplines:
While certain helmets are designed with a specific discipline in mind, this doesn’t mean you can’t wear them for a different horse riding activity.
As long as they meet the required safety standard, you should wear the helmet that makes you feel safe and comfortable in the saddle.
You may be a happy hacker, who occasionally competes in dressage, but this doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the superior safety features of the 4Star.
Read more about choosing a riding helmet.
If you need more help and advice contact our friendly team to find the best helmet for your head and your discipline.