Safety Standards Explained

All riding helmet manufacturers have to produce helmets to meet one of three international safety standards or marks – the PAS015:2011, the VG1 01.040 2014-12 and ASTM F1163:04a – and some may even produce helmets to meet all of them.

When determining helmet safety and assessing if a helmet will pass, each of the individual standards have their own criteria and tests that place more or less emphasis on different helmets and various types of injuries. For example, they will examine how much of the head a helmet covers, how a rider falls and onto what type of surface, how a helmet moves, and how severe an injury riders can expect to receive from that fall. 

The SNELL E2001 has also become a popular standard for riders to look for when it comes to ensuring the safety of their helmets. The key differences in testing that set SNELL apart include a higher drop onto a flat surface, a drop onto a metal ball instead of a sharp metal edge, and a measure of crush resistance that uses greater force. 

While some standards look closely at preventing the most severe types of head injuries a rider may experience, others protect from the more commonplace. No one standard can accurately predict the specific type of accident or fall a rider may experience as there are too many variables to take into account: if the fall is on concrete, grass or in an arena, whether the rider is kicked when he or she falls, whether the horse is wearing studs/caulks, or if a horse falls on the rider, causing a crush injury. Therefore, a helmet that meets multiple standards has been proven to provide the most comprehensive protection and cover a wider range of the potential accident scenarios a rider might experience.