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10 Best Horse Riding Helmets (Dressage, Jumping, etc.)

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Written by Mary Jenson

A beginner-friendly guide to the best horse riding helmets on the market

Finding and fitting a riding helmet is one of the more involved aspects of outfitting oneself for equestrianism. While helmets for jumping, dressage, or trail riding can differ slightly, there are a couple principles that hold true for every discipline. If you want to find a helmet quickly, inexpensively, and with minimum fuss is to locate a local tack shop and try on a couple of brands.

If online shopping is more your style, no worries. Simply measure the circumference of your head with a measuring tape first to ensure you find a helmet that fits you well.

Rookie Tip: When ordering a helmet online, get a couple different sizes and brands — then return those that don’t work once you try them on at home.

This article provides a quick overview of what to look for when buying a helmet, as well the best brands to consider.

How to Fit a Horse Riding Helmet

Finding a riding helmet that suits both your head and your riding style can be a challenging process, and it is important to consider both function and fit — not purely “fashion.”

When fitting a helmet there are a couple things to pay attention to:

  • A helmet should fit comfortably, but not too snugly.
  • It should not shift side to side or back and forth.
  • Put the helmet on and shake your head side to side — if the helmet shifts at all, it is probably too loose. 
  • Tip your head upside down until the crown of the helmet is pointed at the floor. If it fits correctly, your helmet should remain on your head and comfortably snug.

Photo Credit: Milan Berry

Best Horse Riding Helmet Brands

Differentiating by brand is another aspect of shopping for a helmet, and your choices vary largely on price and function. Really fancy dressage helmets, like Charles Owen, will be much more expensive than a schooling helmet like Tipperary or Ovation.

If you are competing at a higher level of any sport, though, a top-end helmet is certainly worth the extra expense.

For example, the brand One K caters specifically to riders with prior head trauma.

Ovation and Troxel are some of the most affordable brands, with products typically in the $50-$100 range. That said, there is an inevitable tradeoff between quality and cost. Ovation and Troxel helmets will neither hold up as well, nor as long, as some pricier brands.

If you are mostly trail riding or a beginner starting out and unsure how much money you would like to invest in equestrianism, there’s no shame in buying a more economical brand. They are still safety certified and offer plenty of size and design flexibility.

Top 5 riding helmet brands:

  1. One K
  2. Charles Owen
  3. Tipperary
  4. Ovation
  5. Troxel

No matter which brand you choose, you should replace your helmet every five years — or immediately if it’s involved in a fall.

Best Overall Horse Riding Helmet

Tipperary sells a nice affordable helmet called the Sportage 8500. Though not quite as complicated or customizable as some pricier helmets, it does a solid job of being both reliable and adaptable to any number of head shapes and disciplines.

tipperary sportage helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • It is truly all-purpose and can be used for any discipline.
  • This helmet keeps you cool in the summer thanks to generous vents. (Just add a helmet liner in the winter.)
  • It’s ASTM/SEI certified for safety.
  • Forget about clunky, heavy helmets — this one only weighs 17 ounces.
  • The Sportage is quite comfortable for all head shapes and is my overall favorite brand!

Chief Rookie Aside: I also ride in a Tipperary Sportage and love it!

See the Tipperary Sportage 8500 (State Line Tack)

Best Horse Riding Helmet for Safety

One K helmets

are a little pricier, but they allow for a much greater variation in fit and style than budget brands.

onek defender helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • One K especially caters to riders who have had past head trauma or are particularly concerned about falls.
  • Certified to ASTM and CE EN standards for safety.
  • The liner is washable, quick-dry, moisture wicking, and anti-microbial.
  • Two center stripe vents help keep you cool on the hottest days.
  • Available in a wide range of head shapes and sizes.
  • Comes in a variety of gorgeous colors like chocolate and navy.

Chief Rookie Aside: Looks aren’t everything, but this helmet design is truly lovely.

See the One K Defender Helmet (Amazon)

Check out our detailed review of the One K Defender Air helmet.

Best Horse Riding Helmet for Oval / Round Head

Most brands will have some variation in head shape, but One K, Tipperary, and Charles Owen all have an excellent selection of oval and round headed helmets. One K Defender Bling helmets, in particular, offer a large and adaptable selection of head shapes and sizes.

onek-helmets

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • This helmet comes in oval and round shapes, as well as XS through XL.
  • One K Defender Bling helmet features genuine Swarovski crystals for more sparkle.
  • Choose from half a dozen color options.
  • Certified to ASTM and CE EN standards for safety.
  • The liner is washable, quick-dry, moisture wicking, and anti-microbial.

Chief Rookie Aside: If you want to see bling helmets in real life, watch Olivia Towers’ dressage vlog.

See the One K Defender Bling Helmet (State Line Tack)

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Best Riding Helmet for Small Head

Tipperary helmets typically come with interchangeable foam padding which helps tremendously in fitting a helmet to a small head, as does the adjustable dial in most Ovation helmets.

ovation helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • This helmet includes an easy-adjust dial to allow for a snugger fit.
  • The Deluxe Schooler is lightweight at under 15 ounces.
  • Exclusive YKK® adjuster clip and buckle is designed to keep off the rider’s face for increased comfort.
  • The visor will safely break away in the event of impact.
  • ASTM F1163-04A/SEI Certified and CE certified to European EN 1384 Standards.

See the Ovation Deluxe Schooling Helmet (State Line Tack)

Best Riding Helmet for Dressage

Charles Owen helmets

are typically considered the best for dressage, both in appearance and function. Unlike all-purpose or jumping helmets like Tipperary or One K, Charles Owen helmets are more specifically designed for dressage and are already ‘velvet’ covered.

charles owen helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • Classic design fits in perfectly in any dressage arena.
  • 12 front and rear ventilation slots are covered in breathable mesh.
  • Removable and washable headband keeps your helmet looking clean and fresh.
  • Microfibre suede and leather-look coating combines design and practicality.
  • Available in regular and round fit options.
  • ASTM F1163-15, PAS015:2011, VG1 01-040 2014-12.

See the Charles Owen AYR8 Plus Helmet (State Line Tack)

Best MIPS Horse Riding Helmet

One K is one of the few brands that offers helmets with MIPS technology, a cutting-edge design that offers superior security to riders who have had past head trauma or are working with green or difficult horses.

onek mips helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helps protect against rotational motion that is transmitted to the brain from angled impacts to the head. It works by redirecting energies and forces that would otherwise be transmitted to the brain.
  • Comfort padded harness with synthetic suede lining make this helmet as comfortable under your chin as it is on your head.
  • Wide variety of sizes and head shapes available.
  • The two-part construction, with an inner layer that rotates with the head upon impact, makes it one of the safest helmets on the market.
  • The liner is washable, quick-dry, moisture wicking, and anti-microbial.
  • Certified to ASTM standards for safety.

Chief Rookie Aside: Learn more about MIPS technology here.

See the One K MIPS CCS Helmet (Amazon)

Best Riding Helmet for Jumping

Most helmets are reasonably adaptable to dressage or jumping, but Tipperary and One K are more commonly used in jumping and need to be cleaned less regularly than a microsuede Charles Owen.

tipperary mips helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • MIPS technology offers next-level protection by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies during a fall.
  • Comfort comes standard, as this helmet accommodates a variety of head shapes and hair styles.
  • The matte black finish is easy to clean and mark-resistant.
  • An adjustable 5-point harness includes a removable chin pad.
  • ASTM F1163-15 and SEI Certified for safety.

See the Tipperary Windsor MIPS Helmet (State Line Tack)

Best Riding Helmet for Eventing

Most helmets are reasonably adaptable to dressage or jumping, but Tipperary and One K are the most common brands you’ll see in most lower-level eventing competitions. If you have a bigger budget, though, the Charles Owen Pro II Plus Helmet is a great choice.

eventing helmet

Click to see it at SmartPak

Key Features:

  • This helmet is the only triple-standard, precision-fitting cross-country skull cap on the market.
  • The sized liner system allows for an adaptable fit, and it’s replaceable to extend the life of your helmet.
  • Front and rear ventilation offer superior cooling.
  • GRpx® technology harness provides unsurpassed stability.
  • Certified by SEI to ASTM F1163-15, VG1 01.040 2014-12, Kitemarked to PAS015:2011, Kitemarked to VG1 01.040 2014-12.

See the Charles Owen Pro II Plus Helmet (SmartPak)

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Best Riding Helmet for Trail and Western Riding

Ovation and Troxel both offer helmets specifically designed for trail riding and western pleasure, although pretty much any helmet can be used for Western or English riding, so long as it fits safely and comfortably.

troxel sierra helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • SureFit Pro fit system is more adaptable to different head shapes and sizes.
  • Self-locking buckle chin strap is easier to fasten with one hand.
  • Removable, washable line helps you keep your helmet fresh and clean.
  • ASTM/SEI-certified for safety.
  • Comes in four color variations, all of which have a rugged nylon and leather finish.

Chief Rookie Aside: Sadly, many Western riders still don’t wear helmets. Set a good example, and protect your brain!

See the Troxel Sierra Helmet (Amazon)

Best Riding Helmet on a Budget

Tipperary helmets

are relatively inexpensive, and they hold up longer and better than the very cheapest brands. This makes them the best deal for riders on a budget.

tipperary sportage helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Key Features:

  • This is an all-purpose helmet that’s appropriate for any discipline.
  • You won’t break the bank buying a Tipperary, but you’ll still “protect your melon.”
  • It’s ASTM/SEI certified for safety.

See the Tipperary Sportage 8500 (State Line Tack)

Frequently Asked Questions

What size helmet do I need?

The best way to find out what size helmet you are is by measuring the circumference of your head with a measuring tape. Most brands of helmets will either be measured by the circumference of the head, or they will have a chart designating what number of inches corresponds to which size.

This step-by-step video shows how it’s done:

What are helmets typically made of?

Riding helmets are usually a layer of impact absorbing foam, covered with a shell of plastic, resin (older helmets), or Kevlar.

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Should I buy a used helmet?

Definitely not!

Helmets need to be replaced every time a rider hits their head, or every five years. With a used helmet, there is simply no way to tell what stress it may have incurred. Even if cosmetic damage isn’t visible, it may be structurally unsound.

How should I care for my helmet?

Mostly helmets only need to be kept in a temperature regulated environment and dusted occasionally.

What makes a helmet suitable for year-round wear?

Most helmets are designed for all-weather use, but they can get a little chilly in the winter. Wearing a thin hat or scarf under your helmet can help to keep your ears warm in winter months.

Parting Thoughts

Finding a helmet that suits you and your riding style is incredibly important. It’s okay if it takes a little longer to compare your options until you find a helmet that is comfortable, durable, and affordable since you will be wearing it for several hours at a time. Plus, your safety depends on it!

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About the author

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Mary Jenson

Mary Jenson has lived and worked with horses all her life, though she only took up English riding several years ago and instantly fell in love! She currently manages a horse boarding and lesson facility in Montana and continues to enjoy (nearly) every aspect of horses and horse care.