For those of us who love horses, few things compare to getting up in the saddle. But despite being incredibly popular and a great deal of fun, horse riding is one of the more dangerous sports out there. Therefore, having a riding helmet and body protector that fit correctly is essential for staying safe and surviving a fall.
These days, more and more equestrians are buying their supplies online. But when it comes to helmets and body protectors, some are reluctant to buy without trying, as these items need to be properly fitted. A hat may claim to be the safest on the market, but if it doesn’t actually fit you, it isn’t safe at all. However, it is possible to measure yourself up before buying online and get the right product.
When measuring yourself for a riding helmet, follow these simple steps:
- You want to measure your head at the widest point with a fabric measuring tape, approximately 1cm above your eyebrows, round the back of the head on the widest part of the Parietal bone and above your ears. It is important to make sure the tape stays flat against the head and is level.
- Once you have a measurement, compare this with the manufacturer’s sizing guide on the website. You may also want to be sure that the hat you are choosing is the right shape - round, oval or in between. Don’t forget that you may measure 56cm but a circular 56cm will be different to an oval 56cm. Likewise, depending on the brand of helmet you choose, sizing will vary, so you might be a small for one type of hat, and an extra small for another.
- Some hats are specially designed to be adjustable for a more custom fit. They may have a dial, ratcheting mechanism or padded inserts that can be adjusted to suit you. This is particularly good if you wear your hair differently for riding and/or sometimes wear glasses.
- Once you are sure that you have selected the right shape of hat and placed your order, check the fit is right as soon as it arrives. A helmet that fits correctly should be equally snug all over but should not feel uncomfortable. It should be firm against your crown, and you should not have any gaps which you can push a finger into between your head and the hat. If it squeezes or there are pressure points in certain areas, the helmet is the wrong shape; if it squeezes in all areas it is too small. If it feels loose, rocks back and forth when the harness is fastened correctly, sits low on the eyebrows or pivots, it is too big.
- Check the fit of the chin strap. When correctly adjusted, it should fit comfortably underneath the chin and earlobes. It should be worn as tight as you can possibly bear it, however you should be able to just slide a finger between the strap and your chin. Once fully adjusted attempt to push the hat backwards and forwards by knocking the hat under the peak or bottom edge and under the back of the harness. You should not have more than a few millimetres of movement, if the hat comes down over your eyebrows and obscures your vision the harness is too big. Re-adjust it and try again; if you cannot move the hat back and forth, the harness is stable and the hat is correctly fitted.
VioVet sells a great range of quality riding helmets, which all come with a helpful sizing guide. Should you need any further help though, feel free to contact us! (01582) 842096.
When measuring yourself for a body protector:
- Bear in mind what you will be wearing to ride in. Remember that for body protectors to be effective, they need to sit close to the torso so that your body heat penetrates the foam and makes it softer to wear. This means fitting it over lightweight clothing such as a t-shirt and layering up over the body protector if it’s cold. If you intend to wear over a jacket, all body protectors on the market have a minimum and maximum amount of adjustability which is more than enough for this. Do NOT allow growing room for children for this reason.
- You need to take a few measurements before ordering your body protector. Use a flexible, fabric tape for a more accurate reading. First, take your height measurement, and then measure your waist, chest and, sitting on a flat chair, take back length from the C7 vertebrae (knobbly bone at back of neck) down to the seat, (then deduct 4 inches from this measurement for saddle clearance). Finally measure waist to waist over the shoulder (waist is at your bending point).
- Some body protectors are adjustable at the shoulders with hook and loop fastenings and through webbing straps at the waist; some have elastic cords or ties at the waist. When fitting your protector, adjust these areas for a snug fit. Once your body protector is on make sure that all red markers are covered when fitted. If they cannot be covered, the body protector is too small for you. Check it is the correct length at the front and back. The protector should extend from your breastbone down to at least your bottom rib and beyond for maximum coverage protection. It should lie flat against your body and not pull away. If this happens, it is too loose, so adjust tighter if possible. The protector should not be any longer than your waistline bending point – if this occurs the body protector is too long for you at the front and will push up on your shoulders when riding. Check that the back of the protector is off the saddle by roughly 3-5 inches.
- If you are selecting a larger size because the red markers cannot be covered, make sure that the size up you are selecting is not getting larger in body and back length as well as width. Many protectors have several different width measurements in the same body length and if it is only too small for you in width you will need the next size up. If the body length is also larger in the next size up then this will not be suitable for you and you will need to select another model/brand or one with a short back for example.
Written by: Hannah Dyball