When Should You Replace a Horse Riding Helmet?

Wondering when to replace a riding helmet, or how long it lasts in the first place?

Below, I’ll how long helmets are good for, offer advice regarding when horse riding helmets should be replaced, and highlight some ways you can tell that your riding helmet needs to be replaced.

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Don’t forget to check our best equestrian helmet in-depth review!

When to Replace Riding Helmet?

Short and sweet answer: Most equestrians get a new helmet every five years. I replace my helmets regularly to make sure that my head is always protected. Now, let’s go over the longer answer!

pretty lady riding a horse and wearing a helmet

According to helmet company Troxel Helmets, riding helmets should be replaced at least five years from the date of purchase. Why?

See, protective materials in a horse riding helmet break down over time. So the longer you use one helmet, the less likely it is to keep you safe in a fall.

Related: Why is it Important to Wear a Helmet?

How Long Are Helmets Good for?

a girl wearing horse riding helmet

Helmets are good for five years because they go through wear and tear. I know I have scuffed the outer covering of my helmet due to dropping it on accident or leaving my helmet in the backseat of my car.

Let’s be honest, what equestrian hasn’t done something like this at least once? Anything to save time and get to our ponies faster!

These are just some of the ways that helmets can be damaged over time:

  • Sweat- over time, the sweat and moisture from your head that accumulates while wearing a helmet can weaken the effectiveness of the protective materials in your helmet as they lose strength. To control the moisture, remove the inner liner of the helmet and wipe down the inside. 
  • UV Rays– just like sweat, direct sunlight exposure can weaken the protective materials in your riding helmet. Horseback riding is often done outdoors, so depending on how much time you spend in the sun, your helmet may wear more quickly.
  • Temperature Fluctuations– if you keep your helmet in your car, the tack room, or the barn, it will be exposed to temperature fluctuations. Extreme heat and extreme cold will weaken the protection your helmet provides. Keep your helmet in a climate-controlled environment as much as possible
  • New Helmet Technologies– helmet manufacturers regularly develop new features to keep you safe while you ride, and helmet standards are updated regularly as well. So, if you have not purchased a new helmet in over five years, it would be worthwhile to invest in a new one

These are just some of the factors that define the answer to the question “how long does a helmet last?” A person that rides every day will need to get a new helmet more often than an equestrian that goes horseback riding once a month. 

How Often Should I Replace My Horse Riding Helmet?

a beautiful woman petting her horse

You should replace your riding helmet immediately after a fall, or after your helmet expires. 

The expiration date for most helmets is five to six years after the date of purchase. This can vary depending on how often you ride and whether or not your helmet was stored in a climate-controlled environment.

You should replace your helmet immediately after a fall because (read: you want to protect your precious noggin) and: 

  • The shock-absorbing foam inside the helmet becomes crushed or cracked when it hits the ground
  • The foam stays crushed after head impacts, giving you less protection the next time you fall
  • Even if your helmet looks fine, it is most likely damaged in some way.

This is why helmets should be replaced this often. Even with no visible damage, the materials slowly break down in helmets over time, impairing their ability to protect you from brain injuries. Plus, the fact that you need to replace your helmet is a great excuse to go shopping at your favorite tack store! 

How Do I Know If My Riding Helmet Needs Replacement?

The following are some signs of damage that signal that your current horseback riding helmet needs to be replaced (and you are that much closer to a tack store shopping spree):

  • The clips for the buckle on the chin strap are missing teeth, preventing the chin strap from buckling correctly and leaving the helmet loose on your head.
  • The mechanisms on the helmet used to adjust fit are malfunctioning, keeping the helmet from fitting correctly.
  • The retention harness is loose from the fasteners that keep it in place on the helmet shell
  • The inside lining of the helmet is missing chunks or pieces of it fall off at random times
  • The helmet has areas that appear compressed or melted, indicating chemical solvent exposure
  • The outer shell has clearly visible dents and cracks, is warped in places, and or has holes
  • The helmet’s color is changing or faded

This is not an exhaustive list, and if your helmet has one or more of these flaws, you should consider getting a new one.

FAQs

Is there a way to extend a riding helmet’s expiry?

A riding helmet’s expiration date can be extended by taking proper care of it and storing it in a cool, dry place so that exposure to chemicals and sunlight is limited

Should I replace my riding helmet?

Riding helmets should be replaced after a fall because they are only built to withstand one impact. The protective materials inside become and stay damaged after impact.

What to do with old riding helmets?

dirty horse riding helmets

Some options are recycling your helmets or donating gently used ones to local therapeutic riding centers.

Conclusion

Riding helmets last for five years and should be replaced immediately after a fall.

They face wear and tear from sun exposure and sweat, and the protective materials stay damaged after impact. You can extend the time your helmet lives n by taking good care of it and storing properly.

References

  • Equus. 2013. “Does My Helmet Need to Be Replaced?” The Horse Owner’s Resource. The Horse Owner’s Resource. October 7, 2013. https://equusmagazine.com/horse-care/does-my-helmet-need-to-be-replaced-8635.
  • “FAQ’s | Troxel Helmets.” 2020. Troxelhelmets.com. 2020. https://www.troxelhelmets.com/faqs.
  • “Snell Helmets Certification – FAQ.” 2020. Smf.org. 2020. https://smf.org/faq.
girl wearing a horse riding helmet with text, when to replace a riding helmet

When do you replace your horse riding helmet? Let us know in the comments below!

ARIHVOFW
ARIHVOFW

Ari is passionate about horses and loves sharing his experience with his readers. Find him on FACEBOOK.
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