How to Choose a Riding Hat

Choosing a riding hat
"It is essential that when purchasing a riding hat or skull, that a qualified person fits it."

Choosing a riding hat

Buying a riding hat is probably the first thing you would do when wanting to take up horse riding. Riding hats and skulls are a crucial and necessary part of every rider’s safety and should always be worn when riding a horse to protect your head.

It is essential that when purchasing a riding hat or skull, that a qualified person fits it.

Countrywide have qualified hat fitters in every store, available seven days a week. We recommend that hats and skulls are always fitted by a trained member of staff to ensure you are purchasing the hat most suited to your head shape and requirement. Because hats and skulls are a safety item that can be damaged when dropped they are non-refundable once purchased. When buying a hat it is important to understand the safety testing that they go through.

Protective headwear must meet one of the following standards:

British – All PAS 015, VG1 - provided they are BSI Kitemarked

European – VG1 - provided they are BSI Kitemarked

PAS 015

A safety standard for riding hats managed by the British Standards Institute (BSI). This standard is reviewed every two years and this is the highest safety standard for riding hats in terms of shock absorbency, penetration and retention.

VG1

This European Standard was adopted for all the equestrian hats and Jockey helmets according to the British Standards. This Standard represents a forward step with respect to the previous standards issued by British Certification Bodies. It is recognised on a European level and by many Countries with the exception of some Countries that adopted Standards with even stricter parameters. One particular new detail: the use of a chin-rest is no longer permitted because in the event of falls it could cause damage to the jawbone.

Kitemark

BSI Kitemark

When you see a product with a Kitemark this means the BSI has independently tested it and has confirmed that the product conforms to the relevant British Standard, and has issued a BSI license to the company to use the Kitemark. The manufacturer pays for this service and their product is tested, and the manufacturing process is assessed, at regular intervals.

The Kitemark is the symbol that gives consumers the assurance that the product they have bought really does conform to the appropriate British Standard and should therefore be safe and reliable.

All hats which have suffered a severe impact, including being dropped onto a hard surface, should be replaced immediately as their protective capacity will have been impaired, even if there is no visible sign of damage.

For further information please read through the BSi website.

How to fit a riding hat

The head should firstly be measured, to get an idea of the size of hat to begin with. The measurement should be taken just above the ears, around the fullest part of the head and just over the eyebrows. This should give a measurement in centimetres, which can be converted using the table below:

Jockey Size 00 0 1 2 3 4 5
English 6 1/8 6 3/8 - 6 1/2 6 5/8 - 6 3/4 6 7/8 - 7 7 1/8 - 7 1/4 7 3/8 - 7 1/2 7 5/8 - 7 3/4
cm 50-51 52-53 54-55 56-57 58-59 60-61 62-63

Points To Remember When Choosing A Riding Hat

When choosing a riding hat, remember these following five points to ensure you find the right hat for you:

  • The hat or skull should be rolled on to the head from the correct position at the front of the head, which is about half an inch above the eyebrows.
  • The hat should be a very snug fit but with no undue pressure at the temples, which may cause headaches.
  • There may also be space at the back of the hat to insert the top of the index finger, however this is not always the case and is not as critical as expansion space at the temple area.
  • The straps should be adjusted so that they feel comfortable to the wearer. They are there to ensure that the hat does not fall off and stays in the correct position on the head whilst riding.
  • When removing the hat, there should be a feeling of suction, as it is lifted off, also a lifting of the eyebrows as the skin above them moves.

Care and Maintenance

Do

  • Clean the hat or skull.
  • Use a soft brush with a little warm water and soft soap.
  • Allow to dry naturally.
  • Store the hat or skull in a cool dry place and out of direct sunlight.
  • Ensure that the hat or skull has some protection during transportation.

Do not

  • Dry in front of a fire, or on top of a radiator.
  • Dry clean or expose to solvents.
  • Expose to petroleum, petroleum products, cleaning agents, paints, adhesives etc.
  • Leave in direct sunlight.
  • Leave under glass, such as on the rear shelf of a car.

Please talk to a member of our trained staff before purchasing your hat to ensure that you buy a hat that conforms to the standard it will be required for dependant on the discipline you want to participate in.

At Countrywide we offer the following brands of hats in our stores:

Important note: We recommend that if buying online you already know your exact head size and the brands that fit you head the best because hats cannot be refunded if they do not fit.

Permitted Hat Standards