Protective Headgear – Helmet Use Saves Lives
From an insurance standpoint, company underwriters may decline an application for commercial equine liability insurance if instructors do not require students under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding (or driving) a horse.
To help in reducing the chance of injury, helmets must meet ASTM/SEI safety standards and in order to provide protection, they must fit properly and be fastened securely. A new helmet should fit snugly as it is designed to mold to the shape of one’s head. Proper care of helmets is essential to maintaining their effectiveness.
Furthermore, if you crash and hit your head, or you drop the helmet on a hard surface replace it. You may not see the damage but the helmet foam has been crushed and is no longer as protective according to the experts. Rule of thumb – care for it as you would a child. That translates for example, to not storing it any place where the temperature is too hot, such as inside a vehicle, or to cold. If able to speak, the helmet would say that it prefers to live in your house.
Since bicycle helmets and equestrian helmets use the same type of liner foam you will find this website, www.helmets.org to contain useful information. For example, did you know that hairspray can cause damage? Helmet safety is also addressed by the Center for Disease Control, visit https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/helmets/headsup_helmetfactsheet_equestrian_508.pdf. And finally, pay close attention to the information furnished by the manufacturer and follow their advice.
Different disciplines have taken a stronger stance over the years on protective headgear requirements during competitions. The United States Equestrian Federation first addressed this safety issue in 1964 when the Rule book included language for helmet use for jumping. “Jump” forward and you will see how USEF General Rules have expanded the helmet requirements over the years as well as adopting specific rules governing jumpers, hunters, driving, combined driving and dressage.
Regardless of the discipline, all participants in equestrian sports are warned about the inherent dangers of being on or around horses. As insurance agents, we caution the equine business owner of their liability with respect to any negligence in implementing and observing prudent safety rules. Avoid increasing the risk – play it safe! And remember, the equine insurance company underwriter is taking a close look at your helmet requirements.